Competitive Intelligence Strategic Foresight
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Member Intel Q&A - Prasanna Appu

Prasanna Appu

SCIP member Prasanna Appu is Strategy Manager at Corning, one of the world's leading innovators in materials science. A few of Corning's innovations are optical fiber, Gorilla glass, light bulb glass, and cathode ray tubes. We recently spoke with Prasanna about dealing with ambiguity, keeping it simple, and what our profession can learn about data visualization from a Swedish physician.



"In CI, there is no specific skill or tool that will work for you every time. So be prepared to think outside the box."

Tell us about yourself.

I work as a Strategy Manager at Corning Inc. in their Optical Communications division. I am responsible for providing Competitive Insights, and am currently leading an effort to understand the competitive environment in the wireless space to position ourselves well for the 5G and IoT era.


What advice do you have for someone starting off in strategic, market or competitive intelligence? What skills should they hone, and what technologies should they be comfortable with?

Be prepared to deal with ambiguity. In CI there is no specific skill or tool that will work for you every time. So be prepared to think outside the box. 


What approaches have you found effective in ensuring that insights drive action, rather than just sitting on the shelf?

I believe that for insights to drive actions there must a consistent method to communicate those insights with the senior leaders in a manner that drive conversations. This enables us to create an environment to gather feedback on the insights as well get the visibility necessary to drive actions.


What’s one thing you’ve done in your current role (or a prior one) that you’re particularly proud of?

I am most proud about the times when I swam against the tide to drive tough decisions. One specific instance that comes to my mind is when I was able to influence our senior leaders to make a strategic price increase on one of the key product lines in our business. When I first pitched the idea, I met with a lot of resistance from almost all the stakeholders involved. Backed by analytics, persuasiveness and persistence I was able to get everyone on board and implement the change. What makes it something I am particularly proud of is that this was one of my first projects right out of business school, and I was able to demonstrate leadership skills and drive to accomplish something never done before for that product line. The financial success of the project has helped me gain the trust of our leaders.



What's been the best piece of career advice that you've received? 
My father always tells me “do your job well.
He says as simple as it may sound, if you do your every day job well, your long-term career will take of itself. Too often we look too far ahead without living in the present.


What are some great tools and resources that you've found helpful in your career?
I'm an avid reader and read a lot of biographies and autobiographies. One book that I read recently that I loved to the core was Nike’s founder Phil Knight’s book Shoe Dog. It's a fascinating tale about Nike as a startup and all the challenges and chaos that it went through. It's an inspirational story that helps me believe that there is no clear path to the top and you must persist and be ready to fight it out. Analytics is also an area of interest and have been fascinated by Swedish Physician Hans Rosling on how he uses analytics to explain complex concepts in simple charts and videos. I thoroughly enjoyed his book Factfulness where he uses analytics to talk about global health in a fun and interesting way.


What's a productivity tip or lifehack that you use often?

I believe in keeping things simple. We all live in a complex world and the problems we are trying to solve can seem overwhelming. Being able to simplify things by breaking it down to it basic elements has always enabled me to make better decisions.



Tell us about an interesting, off-the-wall, or particularly fun job that you had earlier in your career.
I used to work part-time as a math teacher for preparing students for GMAT while I myself was preparing to take the test. Mathematics is something I'm passionate about, and this experience is something that I'll always cherish.


How has SCIP helped your career?

Our CI organization is not a big one. SCIP has provided a great platform to network with other professionals dealing with similar challenges. This has enabled me to get back to the office with renewed energy and enthusiasm to solve problems.


Get involved 

One of greatest values of SCIP is the power of our member community. The experience, knowledge, and intellect of our members are unparalleled. To build off these strengths, SCIP is launching a program to highlight our members and the great work that they do. Are you interested in sharing your story? Please contact us to nominate yourself or a colleague.





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