IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Developing Global Asian Leaders with Varun Bhatia
Kingsley Gate’s Global Asian Leaders program is a capability-building and networking initiative aimed at helping to develop the next generation of Asian leaders on a global scale. With this unique and exclusive, members-only program, we aim to play a part in advancing the development of Asian leaders globally.
This In The Spotlight features Varun Bhatia, Chief People Officer at Reali.
Varun is passionate about giving back and helping others grow. In this leadership conversation, Varun shares with us the lessons he has learned along the course of his global career and shares practical tips for our Global Asian Leaders community.
About Varun Bhatia
Varun Bhatia is an accomplished senior human resources executive and seasoned change leader who leverages a broad and deep strategic and operational human resources and business background in North America, Europe and Asia to help organizations achieve their business objectives. He is known for his ability to inspire others to challenge the status quo, providing leadership that enacts and champions the ‘hard right’ over the ‘soft wrong’ in decision-making. He has a strong and proven expertise in building successful, systemic and sustainable talent and organizations. Recently, his interest and focus has been on integrating Ikigai and the Blue Zones, bringing them together to help individuals find meaningful purpose and leading fulfilled healthy lives.
Truly a global Leader, he has lived and worked in six countries (India, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and USA) gaining extensive international experience across the U.S., Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia, Singapore, China, India, Indonesia, ASEAN, Eastern Europe and Latin America. He has over a decade of experience working with high growth economies such as China, India & Indonesia.
As a recognized human resources thought leader, he has published various articles and been referenced in numerous publications, including Contact Singapore, an alliance of the Singapore Economic Development Board and Ministry of Manpower. Additionally, he has participated as a speaker for multiple events in the U.S, Europe and Asia Pacific, including presenting “Managing Global HR in the Age of Big Data” at the Global Human Resources Leaders Series in New York.
Varun obtained his Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources (equivalent to MBA degree) at India XLRI (Xaviers) and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from SRCC in Delhi, India. He studied Organizational Behavior at Harvard University, Extension School in Cambridge, MA, and Corporate Finance at the London Business School in London, UK. He also has taken entrepreneurship and Board effectiveness programs at Stanford Continuing studies.
He has been recognized for his leadership, receiving the Global Human Resources Excellence Award, World HRD Congress, India, and nomination for the HR Management, Robert Walters Award for Best Human Resources Leader, Singapore. Starting his career with Tata Consultancy Services, he joined The Gillette Company, and progressed rapidly to higher levels of responsibility and scope, including post the P&G’s acquisition of the company in 2005. He was repeatedly chosen for critical leadership roles within the U.S. and abroad as the company moved through major brand and operational transformation.
Following this success in Gillette and P&G, he was recruited to join Kraft Foods in 2008 based in Singapore, where as Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Singapore, he provided strategic leadership for the Asia Pacific region serving 15,000+ employees across 14 countries. During this time, the region grew organically and through acquisitions from less than $1B to a $5B business within four years following the acquisition of Danone Lu and Cadbury, with tremendous focus on Talent and Leadership development.
In 2012, he joined Levi Strauss & Co. as Chief Human Resources Officer in San Francisco. Here, he provided strategic leadership for the human resources function serving 18,000+ employees across 40 countries, reporting to the CEO.
In 2017, Varun moved to Malaysia/Thailand, as the Chief People & Culture Officer for AirAsia Group, where he led the HR function for 24,000 AllStars.
Varun is currently Chief People Officer at Reali, an early stage proptech company in the Bay Area. He also continues as the President of Growth Outcomes LLC, a Global HR Consulting firm, which he co-founded in 2014, which is building a platform to help people find their true calling in life, using ikigai.
Watch the full conversation between Arnaud and Varun here!