Personal Development

Vipon Kumar: Guiding CEOs to success beyond their expectations

Vipon Kumar fascinated by chess

“Life’s first act was about succeeding as a global executive and helping scale my firm’s revenue beyond $1B. My second act is about significance.”

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage Chairs — executive coaches who help guide CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses to make better decisions for their companies, families and communities. If that interests you, you can learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.

Vipon Kumar has had an illustrious career spanning six global industries across three different countries: India, Thailand, and the United States. His work required him to travel to 35 countries before he even turned 30, and he has since visited a total of 50 countries for work. During his career, he worked with customers, suppliers, and partners, and led four turnaround assignments with annual revenue ranging from $40 million to $100 million. Additionally, he played a key role in scaling businesses with annual revenue of $250 million to 1 billion and more as an executive leadership team member.

Vipon earned his MBA in India in 1987 and worked in international B2B sales, selling OEM bicycle parts to 35 countries. By 1993, he was the general manager of a medical device company in Bangkok, Thailand, which he turned around, but lost his savings during the devaluation of the country’s currency.

“If the global commerce is run by the mighty U.S. dollar, we need to be in the USA,” Vipon then quipped to his wife, Renu, a cancer geneticist.

Vipon Kumar featured image

Vistage Chair Vipon Kumar

Vipon and his family moved to the United States, where he completed an MBA program at Arizona State’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and pivoted to global sourcing. He spent nearly 100 days each year traveling from one country to the next, building a “jet-set global executive career” and facilitating more than $10 billion in annual sourcing spend of retailer-partners. All the while, Vipon continued to feed his love for learning through executive education courses at Harvard Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Columbia Business School.

In many ways, Vipon’s career prepared him for his next chapter without realizing it. Traveling the world and executing multimillion- and multibillion-dollar deals was exciting but tiring and stressful. And the pressure took its toll. In 2018, Vipon underwent triple bypass heart surgery. The health scare made him realize he needed to reset his lifestyle.

“Vistage is the second act of my life,” he says. “Vistage is my way to give forward by creating an ecosystem of growth-oriented, compassionate, intellectually humble and nimble leaders.”

“After my heart surgery, I took 18 months off, reset my life,” he says. “After surgery, I thought, ‘What would I do with the gift of life? Do I do one more turnaround and make a couple million dollars in bonuses or recognize that the whole world conspired to help me and consider what I do now?’”

‘The second act of my life’

This question coincided with Vistage contacting Vipon to ask if he had ever considered becoming a Chair (CEO coach) in the Greater Philadelphia area. At the time, he didn’t know what a Chair was, but he quickly decided it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

Vipon Kumar and Vistage speaker Dan Miller

Vipon with Vistage speaker Dan Miller

“Vistage is the second act of my life,” he says. “Vistage is my way to give forward by creating an ecosystem of growth-oriented, compassionate, intellectually humble and nimble leaders.”

In March 2020 — just weeks into the pandemic and with in-person meetings prohibited — Vipon held his first group meeting (via Zoom, of course).

He opened the meeting with three simple slides that read:

  • Nobody goes down on our watch
  • Crisis is a terrible thing to waste
  • War room to beat COVID-19

“During the pandemic, all of the members that I worked with saw their businesses grow, and not a single one went down,” he says.

Today, Vipon Chairs four groups that collectively represent business leaders from organizations generating more than $3.5 billion in annual revenue.

“Being a Vistage Chair lets me help many entrepreneurs and business leaders in the trenches. Connecting with more than 50 leaders every month is a great way to impact society,” he says. “I fully relate to them as I was there myself.”

In forming that first group, Vipon quickly learned that diverse perspectives — and personalities — were a key ingredient.

“You need to have the right blend of personalities to foster a spirit of ‘enlightened self-interest,’” he says. “A common thread among Vistage members is a focus on growth, accountability and personal development, and they have a passion for helping everyone become better versions of themselves.”

‘I am here to serve’

Vipon credits the opportunities he’s capitalized on from those who surrounded him, offering positions he did not ask for or fight for. These positions were offered, he says, because others trusted him and knew he made fair deals. Vipon recalled once telling his supplier partners: “I’ll outbid you and outsell you. But I’ll never cheat you, and I’ll also never let you cheat me, so let’s do a fair deal.”

“I am here to serve because so many people helped me in life,” he says. “It is just paying it forward and creating another group of leaders who will do the same.”

Vipon Kumar and wife Renu in Udaipur India

Vipon with wife Renu at a hotel in Udaipur, India

“Life is fully balanced, and there is never a dull day,” he says. “This a great opportunity to help my members grow beyond theirs and my expectations.” And, at the same time, enjoy a good time and good wines with my wife and visit our now-married children in the New York City area.

Explore more coaching journeys

If this coaching story interests you and you’d like to see more, learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.

Category : Personal Development

Topics :  , , , , , , , ,

About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

Learn More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *