In conversation with Tanuushka K Lal- Chief Operating Officer, Kosmoderma Clinics

Featured among the Top 30 Dynamic Business Leaders in India, Tanuushka is a progressive, self-driven, ambitious professional with excellent people management skills, coaching, and leadership traits. A Hotel Management graduate from the Netherlands with an impressive 20+ years track record in international and domestic markets with demonstrated success in varied classifications of hotels & resorts in India and abroad. 

Tanuushka is a firm believer in people development and is keen on nurturing leadership skills. Harbors a crystal clear foresight on revenue and ROI with being prudent in cost management, remaining in harmony, and control with operations at all levels of the organization.

Where/How do you get your best ideas?

I believe the best ideas are those that come organically and not mechanically, mainly from real-life experiences. Never stop your venture for the best in your career or life. It is the key to discovering innovative ideas. 

What’s something they don’t teach you in University that you should probably know?

Curiosity hitting the roof, those adrenaline rushes, plenty of time and energy to explore life on own terms- that’s my idea of college life. Universities do open up a whole new world for students. But one thing neither college nor any syllabus can prepare for their students is that practical ground reality. Real-life experiences and knowing other person’s struggles for earning their living teach us the ways of the world. And I believe many of us are still learning it at our own pace. 

First thing you do as soon as you wake up?

Drinking a glass full of water is the first thing I do after waking up in the morning – a habit since childhood.  

What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses in the country?

I believe there won’t be a categorization of small businesses at all in the future. With digitalization and online e-commerce as our new post-pandemic buzzwords, the reach for any new venture is the whole internet.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a bootstrap organization or just an individual. By taking the brand online, they have billions of internet users waiting to become their customers worldwide. Possibilities are infinite! 

What was your biggest stroke of luck since the time you have taken over operations for Kosmoderma?

Recently, we had signed the contract for opening another clinic in Bangalore, and discussions to open franchises in major Tier 3 & Tier cities are going on. 

What do you typically read?/ Favourite book?

I am more of a selective reader. I prefer Zen philosophy, especially writings related to the Buddhist way of living and autobiography genres. Out of the handful of books, I had read, Let Go by Martine Batchelor is my favorite book to date. 

One thing you learned about yourself.

Being simple, straightforward, and compassionate has made things better for me. Also, I am a good listener, and it helped me a lot to become the successful businesswoman you see today. 

How do you keep your team motivated & engaged?

Identify individual performances, appreciate, and incentivize accordingly is my gospel. Also, I am keen on maintaining heterogeneity within the team.  

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Break the bubble and come out of your comfort zone – that’s my advice to anyone.  Success comes from hard work and determination. Maintaining your success level is more challenging than becoming successful. Always be smart and think ahead of time so that you can be the best version of yourself. Change the plans, but never the goal if something is not working for you. Never give up! Keep pushing your limits. 

Best boss you had and what did you learn from them?

The question takes me back to the Netherlands and Mr.Hanke – my reporting head when I worked as an operational manager in one of the top resort chains. He was in his sixties and a professional to the core. Words need to be priced out of him – talks only to point, just what the situation demand. 

Hanke taught me how to handle crises, time management, and punctuality. The lesson of punctuality still spreads a smile on my face and about how I tried to be at the meetings earlier than him. I tried to impress him by reaching 5, 10, and 15 mins early. But he would still be there before me, working over his system. Giving up, I asked when he usually comes every day to the meeting. A half-hour before the meet starts, he replied. Even today, I follow it without fail.  I reach half an hour at the venue for meetings. 

He never criticizes but says what needs to be said relating to the work. The technique is saying the right things an employee did first before pointing out the areas to be improved.  Something I still follow in every day of my leadership journey. Attention to detail – the necessary skill a leader should have, he nurtured it in me.

One fine day, he invited me coffee shop nearby our office. That was very unusual for a reserved person like him. Our stride to the cafe was a walk of glory for me – I still feel how my colleague envied it back then. We became close on that day, and from conversations that I had with him later, I learned how to stay young and be a person of date. I even went for morning jogs with him, and I struggled to keep up with him as he was faster in his sixties than I was in my twenties. I follow his diet, his lifestyle even today, and I believe it keeps me strong, youthful, and energetic. 

Hanke carries a Holland-Dutch Wood Shoe Keychain with him always. It’s his lucky charm. I remember him telling to one of his colleagues when asked about it. He announced that he would give it to his favorite person when he retires. I still carry Hanke’s key chain with me, and whenever I see it,  I remember him and how he presented it to me on the day he retired. Hanke is the best boss I had and will ever have. He made me the person I am today. 

What questions do you ask at interviews?

In an interview, the first thing I notice is a person’s attitude. The questions arising depend on it. Because we cannot relate or teach ‘attitude’ to someone.  Those values are within an individual and earned from life experiences. Training only improves a person’s professional expertise and knowledge. 

How do you maintain work/life balance?

I am a Kathak dancer, a form of Indian Classical Dance. Dancing helps me relax a lot. Art is a wonder, no doubt in that! Another recreational activity I love to have every now and then is traveling. It’s hard to put into words how travel and being in nature help us all unwind. 

A childhood memory that shaped something you do in your business today?

I don’t seem to remember a particular event in my childhood that shaped my business career. But one person means childhood to me – my elder sister. Behind every accolade, I bought home,  and every stage that clapped for my excellence, her inspiration was there. She is the one person who identified my talent from childhood. Strangely, she only motivates me and never saw herself participating in any extracurricular activities.  

I still remember her anxiety more than mine while I was about to perform on any stage. And that joy and excitement she felt back then when those audiences applauded for me are still fresh in her heart. It comes back to her whenever someone says good about me.

Even today, she motivates me to pursue greater heights in my business career with the same alacrity and her support is one of my greatest strengths.