A Great People Manager and Leader

Published on November 23, 2020

It was a phenomenal achievement for Arpit Jain, Practice Leader, International Tax & Transfer Pricing of KC Mehta & Co, when he landed a spot in the Top 100 List of Great People Managers & Leaders 2020, a collaboration between Great Manager Institute and Forbes India,  He has been selected through a rigorous process involving 1100+ organizations, 6300+ managers/leaders and multi-layered evaluation (Great People Manager Study 2020).

Tracing back his roots, Arpit joined KC Mehta & Co. right after graduating in 2003, “Working with the Managing Partner, Milin Mehta was pretty fantastic, we were matching, we understand each other’s thoughts” Arpit recalls .But after about four years, he moved to another city that prompted him to leave the company. A few years after, he encountered Milin again and the former offered him to join back KCM and start an office in Ahmedabad, Since he felt that he is ready that time, he readily accepted. And the rest is history.

Arpit, who successfully demonstrates the traits of a Great People Leader, shares his thoughts on leadership:

What does this achievement mean to you?

“The validation and recognition by the team members are the things I consider that matter the most. I can also say that this is great achievement internally.”

What makes a great leader?

“A great leader is one who knows how to form a vision and knows how to lead his team to achieve that vision. Has thoughts and knows how to articulate these thoughts or invibe them as part of the team.

We are in a profession. A great leader is one that understands business and emotions in the most optimal manner. He knows how to balance them together.”

How do you handle conflicts and carry the team when facing difficulties?

“Being open or approachable or give your team freedom. It is also important having fun with your team. You can be senior or strict when it needs to be but when you are out with your team, they should feel equal and let them express their thoughts or opinions. During difficulties, the leader should be the last one to go. It’s a team call.”

What value do you consider the most important?

“INTEGRITY. This is non-negotiable and that we always have to carry and literally live with. I always instill this value with my team, even the new ones who come onboard. I will never, even for a moment, give up integrity. Not even compromise . A team member has the right to say no to a client if that client wants you to compromise integrity.”

What kind of leader are you?

“I’m always vocal in appreciating my team, making it clear and explicit, If you openly appreciate a person, the others would also try to give their best and they would want to be appreciated as well. This will make them feel valued. It doesn’t cost you anything. Your words would matter. Also, I open myself to the opinion of others. I allow my team to express their own interpretations and the team can come up with a good idea or solution with these different options. You would not learn something new if you won’t do this and you are not creating capabilities.”

Do you have a person that you look up to?

“When it comes to leadership roles and style, I look up to Mr. Milin Mehta, the Managing Partner. Even at the beginning, he told me to make myself redundant, let yourself grow together with the team. I cannot forget when he told me that I have to understand that nobody is perfect.  Everyone has their own specialties, and that I have to determine what these specialties are, and try to utilize them. This helped my team a lot.”

How do you deal with changes or crisis?

“Nobody could have foreseen what happened but I think we are prepared to face crisis like this. We closed office and started working from home even before the official lockdown in India . We did not have work-from- home policy before but we had a very good output. There was no micro management. You should show your trust and confidence to your team. Naturally, you have to ask for output or deliverables, but everyone worked joyfully and accomplish projects successfully. The team utilized their time constructively and efficiently.

My realizations? You cannot isolate yourself from the world. You cannot say that what is happening could not impact you. Milin said you should not show panic and we’ll see how things will move forward. KCM did what they promised to their employees and they appreciated this very much. It boosted the confidence and trust of the employees and created a good amount of positivity and it certainly helped."

KCM has been hiring in the past six months and business is getting better, even in the middle of the pandemic. The crisis did not help the firm but it did not have a weakening impact. We are getting new businesses as usual.”

How do you see yourself 5 years from now?

“One of the great things I learned from my leader is to make yourself redundant. I lead the Tax and Transfer Pricing that used to be led by Milin. You create capabilities within your team. Actually train people, who will someday can replace you, or substitute you. This way you can rely on them fully and you will have the opportunity to focus on something else.

In 5 years, if permitted, I want to retire. I want to find something else to focus on. O probably shift to valuations and  mergers or time will tell where I am going to end up with.”

What are your interests?

I like reading books with context that are non-technical. I don’t like fiction but I like to read materials that provoke my mind. I tell my team whenever we have luncheon to give themselves hard process, and cultivate it. They should have their opinion. I like authors who have something for the mankind, and live their lives in entirely different way. I isolate myself to do these things or play with my kids.”

Arpit Jain is a Partner with K C Mehta & Co (KCM) and he leads International Tax & Transfer Pricing practice of the Firm. He is also Office Managing Partner of Ahmedabad office of the Firm.

Arpit has been involved in advising a number of Corporates on the matters relating to International Tax and Transfer Pricing. His specialties include tax and regulatory implications of cross-border transactions covering exchange control regulations, tax treaties and transfer pricing. He does advise Corporations on corporate tax issues as well. He has professional experience of about 18 years including 11 years with KCM.

He is currently Worldwide Chair of International Tax Committee of BKR International, one of the top 10 accounting association worldwide