Creating a Collaborative Culture
Bhupesh Arora, Eller MBA ’98
Senior Director, New Technologies and IT Effectiveness, Avery Dennison
By Liz Warren-Pederson
“Global businesses like ours increasingly leverage technology to maintain competitiveness and create new products and services,” Arora said. Among the initiatives that the Computerworld honor recognized was an internal social media platform to connect Avery Dennison employees worldwide. “We’re strengthening our capabilities with leaders in internal collaboration and social media. This solution is empowering our employees, unleashing their creativity, and supporting their desire to make a difference for our customers,” Arora explained.
But IT services were not his initial focus when he arrived in Tucson for the MBA program. After completing his undergraduate degree in production engineering in his native India, Arora worked for a couple of global manufacturing companies, initially in a Six Sigma role, then later in procurement management for a leading appliance company. “Working on the business side opened me up to all the possibilities in the world,” he said. This burgeoning passion for global business led him to apply to several U.S. MBA programs.
“I looked at a number of factors in choosing a school,” he said, noting that Eller offered the right combination of value, corporate connections, and — of course — weather.
Arora graduated into the dot-com boom. “I didn’t have a tech background; I wasn’t a programmer,” he said. “But the dot-com boom opened a whole array of paths.” He joined Ernst & Young’s management consulting practice. “I worked in a variety of industries, first as a business analyst, then in project management,” he said.
He focused on strategy development and system implementations to improve growth and efficiency for companies in the automotive, finance, high tech, and insurance industries. It gave him the opportunity to be part of teams leading large e-business transformations in the global automotive industry and strategizing a product roadmap for a major supply-chain software product. But after four years with Ernst & Young, and continuous travel — his assignments took him around the world — “I wanted to focus on a career path locally,” he said.
Arora leveraged his automotive industry expertise for the next phase of his career, first with Nissan USA, for which he managed the eBusiness and service parts application portfolio, with responsibility for supply chain, logistics, and service marketing applications. “During that time, I strategized and managed a large-scale IT implementation to transform the supply chain processes for growth and efficiency,” he said.
After four years with Nissan, he joined Hyundai Information Service North America, where he managed e-business, with responsibility for consumer, employee, and dealer portals, strategy, and operations across Hyundai Companies. One of his key accomplishments was the launch of Kia.com website which was awarded #1 automotive website by J.D. Power (the premier market research firm in the automotive industry).
In 2009, he joined Avery Dennison, where the challenges of working for a global business appealed to him. It was there that he launched an internal social network that employees worldwide use to collaborate. “Employees are much faster to adopt social media tools in the workplace when they see their leaders using them,” he said. “My teams manage our workflow, communications, and program content via online communities.” He also blogs about new technologies and coaches senior leaders to do the same.
The success of Avery Dennison’s new communication channels is featured in a recent book, Get Bold! Using Social Media to Create a New Type of Social Business, by Sandy Carter, and also caught the eye of Computerworld.
For the moment, Arora said, he’s where he wants to be. “I tell people to get out of their comfort zones,” he said. “It can be chaotic and stressful, but you need to open your mind to what is going on out there.” Looking back to his MBA days, he credits the program with helping him develop presentation skills, critical thinking on case studies, and team work and collaboration: “These skills position you with a springboard for career progress.”