To celebrate TPCL’s 20th anniversary, we’re catching up with colleagues around the world. In this blog, we reach out to TPCL managing partners in Asia.

In Southeast Asia, executive coaching hasn’t yet swept the leadership scene. That’s something TPCL’s Malaysia managing partner Deva Param is determined to change.

“Everybody knows about leadership training in this part of the world, but there is limited understanding of what executive coaching is in this market. Joining TPCL has given me an edge in terms of bringing that niche to Southeast Asia.”

International collaboration

That’s only part of the reason Deva was drawn to TPCL. Having always had a global outlook, he was keen to work with a group that valued international collaboration. When he met the wider TPCL family in India in 2018, he knew he had found precisely that.

“After seeing the way they supported each other and welcomed a newcomer like me, I really felt that this is the place I want to be,” Deva recalls fondly.

Deep Ahuja Sharma, the managing partner in India, has similarly happy memories. For years she worked in the L&D sector, developing leaders from the hospitality, e-commerce, travel, aviation and automotive sectors. Then, out of the blue one day, she received a message from TPCL founder Charles Brook.

“He somehow found my profile and found it intriguing enough to reach out. I asked him why, out of the thousands of leadership development coaches, are you selecting me?”

From selling cookware to selling coaching

At the very start of her career, Deep had been a door-to-door cookware salesperson. She later moved to develop a family business with her sister, which helped to fund her higher education as a journalist and mass media personality, with enough profits to support other expenses.

Though the team she supervised was small — no more than five people — it sparked in her a life-long love of leadership. “Charles said: ‘there’s something unique about your profile. I found spirituality in it. I found that connection in it for human beings’,” Deep recalls.

Charles was equally impressed by the breadth of her experience. After earning enough from her sales & leadership development role, Deep studied for a masters in business, before moving into the world of HR. Having shone as an entrepreneur, mentor and coach she was, in Charles’ mind, the very best person to establish TPCL in India.

Though she didn’t accept the position right off, it kept “ringing in my heart and soul,” Deep says, so she decided to cast aside a successful corporate career, and seize the chance to introduce a new form of leadership coaching to her home country.

Local advantage

Deva is driven by a similar desire. In Malaysia, he says, while the big multinational corporations have embraced leadership development, local companies are too focused on their revenues and bottom line — and not so much employee development.

“There’s a lot of space for us to enlighten them of the need to improve the capabilities of their people, as we believe that people are the only competitive advantage in an organisation. And there is still a lot of ground for us to ensure that organizational leaders are supported in bringing up the capability of their people.”

With Deva heading up its Kuala Lumpur office, TPCL has seized on these local opportunities — despite competition from at least 4,000 low-cost training companies in the region. How? “The quality of our delivery,” he says.

Deva’s confidence isn’t misplaced, as demonstrated by what happened in 2019: “It was my best moment since joining the company,” Deva says. “I was not able to go to the partners conference in Italy because of a personal family issue. But that week, when the other partners were at the meeting, I won the biggest contract so far for TPCL-SEA.”

The challenges of the times

“In these current unprecedented times, leaders need to know how to lead through these challenges, and build that resilience,” says Deva. “The challenges leaders face today were not heard a decade ago, or even five years ago.”

“The next turbulence or another crisis will come, whether it’s financial, political or otherwise. Probably every other year or in every three years, we will get another challenge that tests our leadership capability.”

If you’d like to hear more from Deep and Deva on how businesses are adapting to the pandemic and future-proofing against other unforeseen shocks, stay tuned to catch part two of their discussion.

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