Sannam S4 Group, a leading global education services provider and international market entry firm, today announced the appointment of former banking executive Ashok Swarup to the company’s Board of Directors. Ashok brings with him significant senior management experience in sales, marketing and government relations across a broad swath of commercial industries both in India and overseas.
Ashok recently finished his role at the multinational bank Citi, where he was Managing Director for Corporate Affairs & Business Development. Prior to that, he was Country Manager for Pepsico Sri Lanka and President at Seagram India. In his new role at Sannam S4 Group, he will help guide the company’s newly-launched Seamless, a global business and expansion solutions service that helps businesses and organisations expand across a wide variety of sectors.
“Ashok is a one-of-a-kind asset for both our business and our partners,” said Adrian Mutton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sannam S4 Group. “His storied career spanning trade and investment, fast-moving consumer goods and government relations will add considerable experience and expertise to our business.”
Experience in what Ashok describes as “shoe leather” marketing in the beverage sector has driven his professional trajectory. However, his career took an unexpected turn when he began public policy work on behalf of Pepsico when contending with pesticide issues with an environmental group. Swarup was then able to apply those finely-honed negotiating skills to the financial services industry in his nearly 15 years at Citi.
“The role I will play at Sannam S4 Group is to highlight the India story,” said Ashok. “It’s about helping clients navigate India’s complexities. The big Fortune 500 companies come into India with huge teams. But for those who don’t have that degree of investment or human capital, they need to understand India, where they need to go, what the systems are, and what they should do. That will be where I will place my focus.”
Ashok, a graduate of the prestigious St. Stephens College in New Delhi and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in Gujarat, believes that as complicated as India may appear from the outside, the value is obvious for those who take a step inside.
“Once you enter India, you’ll find rule of law and an environment that is very positive,” Ashok said. “Yes, there’s bureaucracy and constantly changing taxation laws. But, increasingly, doing business in India is becoming easier. The government is concentrating a great deal on improving the process of doing business.”
While the country has, to a degree, recovered from a severe COVID outbreak this past spring, Ashok believes some of the changes India made to adapt to the pandemic’s disruption will remain.
“India is a digitised marvel, one of the most connected countries in the world,” he said. “I believe the hybrid system of flexibility of working both at home and the office is here to stay. For some companies, they’ve had the best two years in terms of profitability, so this obviously hasn’t been a problem. And India is now slated to get to 7.8 to 8 percent growth.”
“Ashok’s valuable appointment is well-timed as Sannam S4 Group doubles down on its commitment to support the evolving needs of our clients eager to explore opportunities in the world’s second-most populated country,” said Kapil Dua, Managing Director APAC at Sannam S4 Group. “After nearly two years of stalled or slowed global growth and mobility due to COVID-19, the appetite of corporates and non-profits to internationalise is greater than ever.”
In his role as India Chair, Ashok will also join fellow Non-Executive Directors Mark Stanton, Hongxia Liu, Rodney Hornstein and Steve Harvey, and Executive Directors Adrian Mutton, Kapil Dua, Lakshmi Iyer, and Edward Dixon on Sannam S4 Group’s Board as Advisor to the Group.