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Sanjiv Anand, MBA '85

Chairman, Cedar Management Consulting International, LLC

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1. Describe your current role as Chairman at Cedar Management Consulting. What’s an average day like for you? 
I started my career as a young consultant in Chicago in 1985. In the ‘90’s, I began travelling to Asia to set up our offices in India, Singapore and the Middle East. Before then, the focus had traditionally been on what the consulting partners do: build client relationships and create client impact. I had an opportunity in 2005 to buy out part of the firm, and 10 years later we have our own offices in the US, London, Dubai and Mumbai. My role has shifted from being purely client focused to managing and growing a boutique - but global - consulting firm. An average day could include a couple of client conversations, reviewing new areas of thought leadership in development, a review of office or practice plans for the month, and most importantly ensuring the ship stays stable in a world that has become increasingly difficult and complex.
2. Having worked on strategies for companies around the world, is there a common roadblock or struggle that you’ve seen at both large and small companies? 
As Tom Friedman said, “the world is flat”. That means that everybody can access any market, anytime, and the competition is local, regional and global. A company doesn’t even need to be on the ground to be a competitor – the internet has instantly added a hundred competitors to every business. In light of this, the roadblocks are almost the same for large and small companies: the ability to rapidly read market trends, position oneself in those markets for very short market cycles, and have a people and process framework that allow for focus and execution speed. Long term planning is nearly dead. If you can’t survive the short term, what’s the point?
3. Tell us about your latest book, “Execution Excellence: Making Strategy Work Using the Balanced Scorecard”, and why it’s so useful in today’s business environment. 
Strategy execution is the holy grail of business. As a general once said, “don’t fight a battle you can’t win”. Similarly, don’t formulate a strategy you can’t execute. Unfortunately, even today, 50% of firms can’t execute. So I’ve focused my book on strategy execution, which I have done for the last 30 years. Successful strategy execution is about the ability to map your strategy and focus on it. It’s about your ability to develop ownership within the firm, identify a great set of lead and lag measures, and lastly set targets right – pushing only the right buttons harder. The Balanced Scorecard, or BSC, was developed by Prof. Kaplan of Harvard Business School, whom I worked with at the same firm. I believe the BSC is the most appropriate framework to successfully execute strategy. For more about the book, here's a short clip of me discussing the content:
4. What are your favorite memories, or lessons, from your time at Stern? 
I left the US when I was five years old, and came back many years later to attend Stern. In those days, we lived in Washington Square Village and took the subway downtown to the World Trade Center, where Stern used to be. Even in 1983, New York and Stern were a life changing experience. I learned about Wall Street and engaged in a competitive classroom. I learned how to analyze and rapidly synthesize my thoughts. I also made great friends, and we have watched our kids grow up together. NYU Stern really made me a global citizen (even before the world was flat!).
5. Do you have advice for current Stern students interested in pursuing a career in consulting? 
Consulting is among the top 3 careers. But it’s not for the faint hearted. It is an apprenticeship profession – you start at the bottom and you work your way to the top. The hours are long, the travel is intense, and the mental fatigue is significant because you are always in problem-solving mode. But, what a rush! I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and I haven’t regretted a single day. From the rust belts of the US, to the diversity of the Middle East, to the emerging markets of India and China, I have seen it all. More stories than can last a life time. If you love adventure, and don’t want to go to the same office every morning and deal with the same people, this one’s for you.
6. Having spent time working in both India and the US, what are the key cultural differences between the two that affect the way people do business? 
There are more similarities than people realize. This is reflected by the great success of Indians who have settled in the US. We value human rights and are democratic. We value education. We value hard work and entrepreneurship. Our cultures are diverse, forcing us to integrate. One trades products globally and the other provides intellectual capital globally. Most US CEO’s will tell you that from an office environment standpoint, India is one of the easiest places to work and relate to. The challenge simply comes with the fact that one is the richest country on the planet, and the other is an emerging one. A large part of society needs to be lifted in terms of income levels, and that brings its own challenges on the society and the environment.
7. You’ve been involved as an alumnus of Stern and currently serve as the regional leader for the India group. What are the benefits and what do you gain from staying involved with Stern? 
NYU and Stern are my home. I have been a regional leader for many years, even before my hair went grey. My bonds have deepened, with both of my boys studying at NYU. Sahil, my older son, graduated from Stern with a BS, and after three years in private equity, will be attending London Business School for his MBA. My younger son, Jai, graduated from NYU CAS and will soon be attending the Berklee School of Music for a Masters. NYU and Stern have not only built my future, but the future of my next generation.
The India Alumni group is a great group. We meet often. We help Indians coming back to India look for opportunities. We helped create an undergraduate exchange program for NYU Stern. Last year we ran a conference with 15 CEO’s speaking. We do our best to keep the NYU and Stern family vibrant, though we’re a long way from New York City.
8. What do you like to do in your free time? 
That’s the hardest question for a consultant! I play the guitar (on & off), yoga (more nowadays), and travel for leisure (a lot). If I get a bit more time, it would be time to hit the golf course.