March 2018 | 

Advancing as a Leader: Rethinking Negotiation and Persuasion

Advancing as a Leader

Pankaj Shah thrives at uncovering operational breakthroughs and streamlining processes with an eye toward efficiency and increasing his company’s share value. As a leader of industry strategy development at Greenville, North Carolina-based Hyster-Yale Group, Shah heads corporate initiatives for the global manufacturer of materials-handling equipment for the distribution and retail industry.

Responsible for executing on a global scale, Shah has had to learn how to effectively implement change with many busy stakeholders. That’s where Wharton’s Strategic Persuasion Workshop: The Art and Science of Selling Ideas and Executive Negotiation Workshop: Negotiate with Confidence come in, offering hands-on, practical insights on the art of persuasion and influence.

“Wharton has taught me the importance of relationships, understanding the other side of the coin and building collaboration the right way,” says Shah. “The programs emphasized the need to socialize things before you drop a bomb. I need to do better at bringing people along and building supporters within the organization earlier in the process,” he says.

Strategic Persuasion Workshop introduced the 4Cs Process and PCAN++, step-by-step methodologies that define the problem, identify the cause, present an answer, and demonstrate net benefit in a vivid, compelling presentation.

One of Shah’s current initiatives is a global aftermarket parts system that is expected to improve efficiency, increase synergy, save costs and boost shareholder value, along with integrating with the global supplier-procurement system leveraging the company’s global purchasing power.

“We want to get everyone on one system with one global way to manage customers, especially global accounts. But it’s not as easy as a flip of a switch as each region is likely to have different resources available to achieve this goal,” he explains. “Understanding what those barriers are and working around those proactively is key — I’m spending a lot more time on these issues.”

Appreciating the transformative power of what he learned at Wharton, Shah is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience. He recently presented some key tenets of strategic persuasion at a company lunch-and-learn session attended by 35 employees in Greenville. “It was very well received and was kind of an eye opener for them as well as for me,” Shah says. He will present another session to about 50 Hyster-Yale women leaders in early 2018.

Shah says Wharton’s learnings also have benefited him in his community life, helping to get consensus to build a larger temple for Greenville’s growing Indian community. The effort to secure buy-in had stalled after 10 years. “The temple has been in place at its current location for the last 30 years. We had about 25 families at that time, but the Indian community has grown over the years to over 100 families, and we were constantly running out of room [in our current building],” recalls Shah.

He joined the executive committee and was invited to present the merits of moving forward with expansion plans. “I followed Wharton’s process — it took me about a month to set the stage. I was given 30 minutes to present and ended up speaking for two hours. At the end of the two hours, the committee said, ‘Yes, we are ready to go.’ Now we are proceeding with fundraising activities.”

Shah says he plans to return to Wharton in the future to enhance his skills in finance and sales. “Wharton is a tremendous asset for someone like me as I seek to become a more well-rounded leader. I wish I’d known about the Strategic Persuasion and Executive Negotiation programs sooner — I would have taken them 10 years ago.”