ALIGN'S GP BUSINESS IN CORE EUROPE
Abhishek Ganguly, Vice President GP Channel of Core Europe joined Align Technology in May 2015 and shares his knowledge on the GP business, needs and strategy of the core European market.
How would you describe your career path at Align?
The past years at Align have been extremely enriching and rewarding for me. There is never a dull moment at Align; there is always plenty to do and lots to learn. That is what I look for when I choose a role or a company. We should never stop learning and joining Align has helped me fulfil that.
I’ve never managed a sales organization before. Align gave me the opportunity to lead an entire business unit for EMEA without having prior sales experience because it valued the other abilities that I brought to the table vs just focusing on the relevant experience. This shows the development and career opportunities that are available at Align if you’re up for it; if you have the right skills and abilities to support that and the passion to try new and different things. Align is an exceptionally fast growing business and with this business growth comes many opportunities for personal advancement.
Why a specific focus on the GP channel in Core Europe?
In our main European markets, which are similar to many country markets across the world, GP and Ortho customers are different, their needs are different and hence the solutions we need to create for them should be different. Straightening teeth is the daily job for orthodontists while this is not the case for GP’s. In an established channel like Ortho, we have to facilitate the choice of the product between wire and brackets and aligners. In newer channels like the GP channel, we have to introduce a new therapy to the doctors. These require fundamentally different approaches and as a result, it makes sense to split these channels in core European markets to accord due focus to this very important nuance. Moreover, both channels have massive potential, which requires us to dedicate focus so we can maximize realization of the opportunities.
How do we build our presence in the GP Channel in Europe?
Laying a strong foundation is critical. Any strategy is built on a strong foundation and to me this means having a dedicated team in place as a first. The next step is to have efficiency in the processes we employ. We have to cover lot more customers, across many countries with different cultures which means we need to be much more efficient. Building efficiency is crucial and you do this successfully by leveraging digital technologies and by having an efficient selling process that the Europe region can leverage.
How do you lead in a new role?
“Passion for Results, Compassion for People”. This is what I tell my team regularly. My biggest emphasis with my team is on personal accountability. We are leaders of our own functions, while our scopes might be different, we are still all leaders. We need to be accountable for our deliverables and take ownership every day.
Furthermore, it’s important to build trust by empowering people to take action. You give them the responsibility, you trust them with this responsibility and then you let them run with it but you hold them accountable. I strongly believe that this creates a culture of accountability, self-motivation and trust.
Can you share lessons learned from leadership approaches you used in the past? From what I’ve seen and learned in the past, it doesn’t work when leaders don’t make the distinction between delegation and simply offloading work. Delegation is about development, about giving your team something that they can learn from. Leaders can go wrong when they confuse delegation with offloading.
Another lesson learned is the importance of empathy and compassion. If you treat people with respect, things become easier, and difficult conversations occur less often. No matter what the situation is, never lose sight of the fact that you need to treat people with empathy, compassion and respect.
Any last recommendations for other leaders?
Firstly, stay honest and humble and be there for your team when they need your guidance and support. You should make an effort to listen to your team’s genuine concerns and strive hard to have them addressed.
Secondly, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes of Stephen Covey: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”. I think this is very relevant for all leaders. Leadership is about empowering people and giving them the support to achieve bigger and greater things.
From an Align perspective, we are demonstrating exceptional performance. If you’d like to think differently, if you are willing to push yourself and you’re not afraid of stretching above and beyond then Align may be the right place for you.
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