Neha Kumar: Head of Product Partnerships, Stitch
Building authentic relationships with business partners, the shift from time-based to outcome-based work, and how the process of hiring a team can lead to valuable reflection
The Everyday Leader podcast features inspiring individuals building and leading teams across Africa. Listen to episodes on your preferred podcast platform here.
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Neha Kumar based in South Africa. Neha is passionate about growing with intention and scaling for impact. This drives her philosophy for building products and partnerships. She is currently the Head of Product Partnerships at Stitch. Previously, Neha worked at Vera Solutions as Director of Product for Amp Impact, at B Lab creating ESG standards and building platforms for impact investors and at Goldman Sachs in the investment banking group.
Neha has also engaged as an independent consultant with organisations focused on creating change through engaging entrepreneurs, building programs for female small business owners and global change actors such as UN ECOSOC, Endeavor, TechnoServe and Voxtra. She has a Masters in International Development from Columbia University and a BSc Economics from the University of London.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Neha:
Recruiting for a team is an opportunity to look within your personal and team’s soft skills: While working in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs in London, Neha found herself for the first time needing to hire others. In order to hire a cohort of interns, she found herself needing to screen specifically for soft skills as all of the finalists were extremely well qualified. This process made her realize that how you show up and behave on the job is so much more important than your past extracurricular and academic achievements.
Building authentic relationships will consistently produce value throughout your leadership journey: Neha has held several different types of roles, some requiring that she manage large teams while her most recent role is mostly focused on building external partners. She noted that the theme across all these roles has been the ability to establish and maintain authentic relationships with people that result in open lines of communication and mutual benefit. In a remote work setting, achieving this with new partners has been more challenging but still achievable through increased efforts in upfront alignment around shared goals and making sure to document conversations well.
Remote work has rewarded managers who are efficient at producing results: Neha has noticed more broadly and personally preferred the shift from performance management being less about “time at the office” and more about tracking output and outcomes. She says this has also shifted management styles towards empowering individuals and teams to be accountable towards goals with less day-to-day micromanagement.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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