How Sawan Kapoor is using the prowess of his masterclasses to re-shape the career of working professionals
Sawan Kapoor, known as The Career Guy, is India’s leading career coach. Growing his career at an accelerated pace, Sawan rapidly moved through roles of progressive responsibility and was appointed the CEO of Sutton & Maxwell (A Palm Bay International Investment) within just 8 years of starting his career.
He now dedicates his time to helping working professionals build exceptional careers and is on a mission to empower India’s most important asset, its diverse and talented workforce.
His goal is to help 1 million working professionals find their dream job while making significant and rapid gains in their financial remunerations. And his vision for the industry is to double the number of Indian CEO’s leading global firms.
Sawan is the founder of TruNorth Solutions — a job search, job application, and career management firm.
He is a certified career coach with Success Gyan and has trained with Jack Canfield, Byron Katie, T. Harv Eker, Blair Singer, and many more esteemed global giants in the personal development & coaching industry.
Known for his flagship course “The A.P.E.X. Program”, the term APEX stands for Accelerated Professional Excellence in “X”, where “X” is any industry, job or sector of the economy.
Kapoor’s system is the only service that works for the jobseeker, the candidate. His “Power Up Your Career” masterclass on understanding how to build your career has benefitted over one lakh people in wave I & II of the lockdown.
He is also the Managing Director of India’s largest decorative & architectural project lighting firm, Kapoor Lamp Shade Company.
“Everything is ultimately on the way, and not in the way”
A mediocre student all through school, with him even failing his final year of high school, Kapoor describes his young self as a rebellious kid with little direction in life.
After high school, he joined an undergraduate twinning program at Christ College, Bangalore, where he spent two years and then finished his degree at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Calling those his defining years, Kapoor feels that going out into the world on his own was liberating and it brought about a profound sense of responsibility in him. He thrust headfirst into a competitive college
environment, and also stepped up his efforts to prepare for entering the business world. By the end of it, Kapoor received eight job offers and was very optimistic about his post graduation future.
Soaring professionally, working with multi-million dollar companies such as Daymon Worldwide at Meijer Stores, Wegmans Food Markets, and Safeway Stores, Kapoor became the CEO of Palm Bay International’s Private Label Division known as Sutton & Maxwell even before he turned 30.
He ran the company as its first CEO for 4 years in which time he grew it to a quarter billion dollar business, with multiple times the profitability of the industry.
He was awarded with the Industry highest Outstanding Achievement Award for his contributions in 2011 when the company crossed its first 100 million in sales.
After highly successful runs both in the United States and then at the helm of his family business, Sawan decided to pursue his lifelong passion and started his career coaching services company, TruNorth Solutions in 2012.
In 2020, he extended the one-on-one coaching model to a digital coaching program that allows more people to benefit under his guidance.
The organisation only works with highly driven individuals who are serious and committed to building exceptional careers, helping them secure extraordinary opportunities and accelerating their professional success manifold.
Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey
I have learnt far more from failure than I have from the successes that came my way. And I suppose, that is one quality leaders and entrepreneurs must develop to be able to service their efforts successfully.
While my entrepreneurial journey started many moons ago, this current effort of coaching in the online space began right as a pandemic lockdown was announced.
I had wanted to do this (career coaching) for a long time, but was busy with other ventures and businesses so was unable to breakaway.
Having successfully scaled a startup before, I knew that such an effort takes everything. You live, eat, breathe, think, talk and engulf yourself with improving your offering.
Finally in April 2020 the stars aligned and I was able to begin operations for this new venture. The last two and half years have been full of the ups and downs that go with the territory but have been so satisfyinggiven the outcomes we are able to produce and the manner in which the lives of working professionals are impacted.
We have been able to touch over 1,50,000 working professionals and career aspirants with this methodology that puts the job seeker in a position of much greater control with regard to achieving their dream role.
What made you choose this type of business?
Choosing this field was a culmination of my entire career story. I started working in 2001 and joined Daymon Worldwide, the largest private label consumer products broking firm in the world.
Moving quickly through roles of progressive responsibility I was consulting with leading supermarket chains in the United States such as Wegmans Food Markets, Meijer Stores, and Safeway.
In my last stint with Daymon in California while managing the beverages portfolio, the wine business caught my eye and I become fully engrossed in learning about this industry.
I loved it so much that I decided to move to the wine industry full time and soon found a job at Total Wine & More, the largest retailer of fine wines and spirits in America.
It was only after I joined them that I realised that I am a misfit in this organisation. And it was not the company’s fault, I had joined them and it was my responsibility to fit into their mission, but this company was very hierarchical in how they operated and I was unable to change my hands on way of working.
In less than 6 months of being on the job I was fired. I felt helpless and was upset that I did not truly understand the culture of the company prior to making the decision to join them.
I also had 30 days to get another job or I would have to leave the country. This is what many of the H1B work visa holders are also facing right now asMeta and Twitter and other such companies have laid off their workforce.
It was then that I built and put to use my process of targeting companies. I realised that the traditional job search and application journey is one that is built by employers for employers, and candidates have very little control in the process.
Essentially, candidates compete to the advantage of the employer. The process that I designed – I first used on my own self and within 30 days I was able to generate 4 offers in the wine industry and each was a minimum of a 3X of my last salary.
Then I started helping friends and people in my network who were looking for jobs. And when the process produced repeatable and exceptional results, I knew I had something.
This works for both situations, whether you are looking for a new opportunity, looking to move companies, or switch careers to a new industry or function, or whether you love the company you work for but your career has slowed down and you are looking to secure a promotion.
The process allows you to understand an organisation’s extraordinary needs, these are problems or opportunities they are facing that go beyond the job description.
They exist in every industry, in every function at every level of experience. Aligning yourself with being able to solve these needs and also uncovering the true ground reality of the culture of the organisation prior to accepting the offer is what has resulted in success that this venture has obtained.
What was your mission at the outset?
My mission is simple and it is to reach 1 million working professionals find their dream job where they can multiply their remuneration by making extraordinary contributions and feeling that superior professional fulfilment while putting in the foundation to improve their work-life balance.
The criteria to work with me is also straight forward. You cannot just be interested, you have to be committed.
The learning comes before the earning. Today over 20,000 working professionals have enrolled in our advanced courses and we receive multiple success stories every day.
Our students have generated offers from over 27 countries across 60 plus industries. Having impacted over 1,50,000 working professionals with this knowledge we are well on our way towards our mission.
How does your masterclasses helping working professionals in achieving their goals
The masterclass helps job seekers and working professionals seeking growth understand the framework of how wework with them.
It shows them the complete system and the step by step process to increase their salary in multiples in less than 90 days by creating irresistible value for their employers or their target employers.
It helps them understand how to target any company they want to work for and secure the job offer, and critically it helps them understand that this is not something you will use just once, but in fact this is a system you use repeatedly to create true acceleration in your career.
So what takes others 3 years to achieve, you achieve in 1 year, what others take 3 months to make possible you get done in a month.
And lastly it shows the workforce how to differentiate themselves as they walk this job search and application journey, making the competition irrelevant.
Mention few tips for working professionals to be successful at work
The two factors I will mention here will create greater advancement in your career than anything else. No MBA nor certification has the power to create such an acceleration in your work life.
The first one is understanding that we do not do anything alone. Our ability to get great work out of other people is one of the defining characteristics of leadership.
For example, writing great software and managing team of other people who write software and getting great results from them – these are two entirely different skills.
No senior level positions are positions of individual performance. Learning how to identify the right talent, hire them, train them for the job, groom them into the culture of the company, help them grow their careers and retain them, this is the job of what senior leaders do.
And many working professionals keep living in this bubble where they do not work on the personal development required to earn this rite of passage where they know how to lead people and teams.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges India Incfaces especially as it works its way towards a 10 Trillin dollar economy is that people who do not have the skills to lead are put into leadership positions where they have to get great work out of others.
The second factor is applying the 20/80 rule. Understanding that core 20% of your responsibilities that you cannot outsource or delegate.
This core 20% is responsible for 80% of the results and it is these projects, tasks and activities that are most deeply connected to the financial statements of the company.
This can be done for each and every function, whether you are a sales or marketing professional or whether you work in information technology, operations or supply chain.
And if you are responsible for a team then you have to help and guide the team to apply this 20/80 rule as well.
When everyone works on what creates the most impact with regard to the financial performance of the organisation, then the momentum of results that an ecosystem experiences is what successful stories are made of.
As we grow we are looking to expand our reach. We are working with technologies that allow us to translate our services into the regional languages in our country, so we can go deeper into our primary market.
Our goal is to provide a platform for Indian aspirants as we believe our country’s greatest asset is its hard working, young and vibrant population.
The global stage has already seen that Indian managers are some of the finest in the world. I often joke with my team that a founder’s ultimate goal must be to appoint a CEO of Indian origin as the head of their company.
And while we say it half in jest, we believe there is strong substance to this statement. Indian leaders have done well with global organisations, from the Indira Nooyis to the Leena Nairs, to the Sundar Pichais and the many other names that come to mind when looking at the landscape of how Indian management has emerged on the global stage.
I am very bullish on India and I feel that all the factors are coming into place for us to have a phenomenal couple decades ahead.
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