Tetra Pak Vice President of External Communications Sumit Khatter’s passion lies in the value that communications can bring to businesses and brands, emphasizing its role in strengthening reputation and contributing to sales growth.
We caught up with Khatter to get his take on the future of comms pros and the evolving communications industry.
What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?
To be 100% candid, the ever-increasing work demands have often squeezed my reading time, which I have been consciously protecting for a couple of years now. ‘Contagious – Why Things Catch On’ by Wharton professor Jonah Berger is one book I would strongly recommend. He provides brilliant insights into how to create ideas and make them go viral without spending large amounts of money. His six-step program is extremely practical and actionable, and I have referred to his book on several occasions.
What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?
There are at least a dozen, but I would call out two that are most handy.
With a global role that encompasses managing work across multiple countries and disciplines, I need meticulous organization to ensure I stay on top of everything. That’s where the Outlook calendar is a lifesaver. I use it to block time – both for business and select personal engagements – to give ample time to my priorities. And if my wife is reading this, no I do not use it to remind my wedding anniversary!
I’m also an e-post-It fanatic and use electronic sticky notes to jot down key tasks as well as spontaneous ideas that I need to build further.
What excites you most about the future of communications?
I am most passionate about the value that communications can deliver to the business – today and tomorrow. Using our expertise and insights, we can help the business and leadership with cutting-edge positioning and differentiation, giving voice to all the fantastic things about the company.
We can strengthen the reputation of the company to build the value of the brand and hold it in good stead, in good times and bad. We can also contribute to sales growth through our digital communication efforts and marketing automation programs, demonstrating tangible value.
With forward-thinking businesses like Tetra Pak, we are blending purpose, brand building and sustainability with strategic B2B sales support across all communications – something that my team tirelessly aims to achieve day in, and day out.
What communications challenge keeps you up at night?
We’re operating in an unprecedented and fast-changing landscape, so, for me, it’s all about staying ahead of the curve. That means keeping abreast of the latest trends, regulations and stakeholder expectations so that we are first in the queue to ride the next disruptive wave in our industry. If we do that then we can deliver real value to our organization.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
I have been fortunate to have various stints across communications, marketing, research, sales and customer management across B2B and B2C companies, at the global, regional and local levels. Along the way, I have had many roles and many bosses. Making sure that I was able to deliver on all these jobs with short settling periods, and quickly synthesizing these experiences to add greater value has been a constant challenge and kept me on my toes.
Being able to do so has helped me in my entire career, and especially now in my role as global vice president for external communications, where I need to bring a wide-ranging perspective to my job.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Successful leaders need to have a clear line of thinking, from 30,000 feet to 30 feet, from vision to action. Equally so, they need to be able to mobilize people around them in pursuit of a common vision; and have the stamina and the resilience to stay on track, despite the challenges. It’s something I’ve worked on all my career and, while I know I still have room for development, I like to think I do it well.
My favorite quote is from the business leadership writer, John. C. Maxwell, sums up this philosophy nicely, “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.