Monday Mentor: Atul Ahuja, Softline Asia Pacific

Atul Ahuja, Managing Director – Softline Asia Pacific

Atul A 2

If you are ever in search of a mentor, Atul is the person to go to. I knew Atul for a little more than 4 years that we worked together in Citrix. Not only is Atul one of the best sales people and managers that I knew, he would take time out to mentor, guide and give relevant advice to whoever sought him out.

Here her shares some of his secrets on his success mantra.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your current role and what are your responsibilities in the current role?

At present I am responsible of the ASIA business for Softline International, growing the business in the geographies we are present and setting up new subsidiaries in the growing economies in the ASIA region

How did you get here? Tell us a little bit about your past history that led up to this role.

The journey started way back in early 1994. I guess having worked in the OEMs like Citrix & Microsoft for close to 15 years and having worked in System Integrator companies like Tata Infotech, Softcell led me into taking this role at Softline about 1 ½ years back.

The journey of life is a series of events and activities, some of which make a lasting impression on us – we remember them and try to imbibe those characteristics. Across your journey, what the three key things that you have learnt and imbibed.

One learns and unlearn every now and then, what was the most relevant thing in 2010 may have been submerged 6 feet under now 🙂 . Guess such is the pace at which the market place is evolving.

However, few things seldom change

  • People do business with People
  • Hard work and Sincerity, doesn’t have any alternatives
  • Passion is the only true motivator / driver for one to keep going

What do you think is the role of a manager or leader in today’s world? What makes a good manager or leader?

It’s quite interesting that you ask this in today’s era. A Good manager or leader has gone through a paradigm shift. When I started the career, a manager (by default was GOOD) and probably towards the end of his career (retirement, I guess was the word those days 🙂 ). Seldom would we go to the manager seeking help, guidance etc. Guess it was a one-way street (you pretty much guessed the direction).

Today the manger

  • is on the floor
  • with the team
  • probably just started his career
  • parties with his team
  • is savvy not just for his role, but also on almost all aspects of life / business
  • & is interested in success of the TEAM, and focused on the GOAL given

If I flip the above question around now, when you are hiring for your team or your organisation, what are some of the key traits that you look for, irrespective of the role for which you are hiring? What traits should today’s young professionals have?

  • No 1 on the list for me is PASSION
  • Risk taking capabilities / Entrepreneurship skills
  • Quick Learner

Life is a series of ups and downs. Can you share with us some of your biggest UP and DOWN moments and what did you learn from them?

Life is full of them. In my career, I had to restart myself a couple of times from scratch in the early days. The learning of starting all over again a few times gave me strength. I remember, when my father decided to wind up the SME business he had and I had to think what should I do as a next step.

Probably that was the defining moment for me when I had to say NO (at a very early stage of my career) against the guidance and wishes of the family and start my professional career in SALES.

How important do you think is the function of Marketing to your organisation’s success? As a leader, what do you look towards marketing to deliver?

  • Marketing is a redefined function now, especially in the digital world. For us it’s the CORE and central function of DemandGEN, New Business Initiatives, Customer Centricity, Brand Value…I can go on and on..
  • Marketing for me is to deliver on all of the above

On a lighter note, what are you passionate about? How do you de-stress?

  • Bollywood, Bollywood and Bollywood. Now that Kapil Sharma off air for some time, there is no real de-stress alternates.
  • & of course spending time with family is a BIG de-stress(er)

And on a parting note, what advice would you give to our readers?

  • Enjoy life to the fullest, it’s a very very short one

Let’s do a quick rapid fire round.

  • Your most prized possession?
    • My Family
  • Your favourite food?
    • Paneer Tikka – when I am veggie
    • Golden Fried prawns – when I go back to non veg 🙂
  • Your favourite holiday destination?
    • Goa
  • Your comfort movie and/or book?
    • Mr. India, 3 Idiots, Hera Pheri…I can go on and on this one.
    • Books, what books…Kotler was the last I was forced to read 🙂
  • The most adventurous thing you have done?
    • During a short trip to Lonavala in the monsoons, I jumped into small water pond (looked like a 4ft x 4ft), and I turned out to be 100 ft deep and I didn’t know to swim. Luck was by my side that I was with all doctors in that trip, and they somehow pulled me up.
  • A word or a phrase that defines your core life philosophy?
    • Hard work is always rewarded, Genuinety gets you the right team and being truthful makes you fearless and strong

One response to “Monday Mentor: Atul Ahuja, Softline Asia Pacific”

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