President, Pandora Americas
As president of the Americas region, Sid Keswani is responsible for PANDORA’s markets in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America. The region encompasses more than 2,300 points of sale, including more than 700 concept stores, with more than 200 being owned and operated by PANDORA. Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, PANDORA designs, manufactures and markets hand-finished and contemporary jewelry made from high-quality materials at affordable prices. PANDORA now is known globally for its customizable charm bracelets, designer rings and necklaces. Keswani, who completed his Executive MBA at Jindal School, previously was president and CEO of Fiesta Mart, based in Houston.
How has your MBA impacted your career?
Earning a degree from UT Dallas was the best thing I ever did. It gave me exposure to different companies and I learned there are different ways to achieve success, both as a business and as an individual. It also allowed me to interact with diverse people. My degree provided a different perspective on how an organization functions. There was also a huge financial component that I did not have much experience with. Having an Executive MBA from UT Dallas has opened doors for career opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
What do you enjoy about your current position/profession?
In general, I’m a retail nut. I enjoy the consumer-facing side of the business, but I also love the team aspect. There are broad responsibilities with my current position, and that keeps it rather interesting.
How do you see your profession changing in the next five or 10 years?
Everyone is thinking about the “retail apocalypse.” I believe that retail is changing. Technology and data will play a bigger part in the future of retail. The customer expects the same experience online and in the store and it is up to us to provide that experience.
What unexpected experience or event has shaped and/or influenced your current professional life?
One event had a personal and professional impact on my career. The experience of being in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina showed me what’s important in life. I gained an appreciation for what I have and the people important in my life. From a leadership perspective, it changed the way I lead with a “people first” mentality.
What is a professional highlight of your career, either where you currently work or in the past?
The opportunity to take the CEO role of a small company and the ability to take it to sale with a private equity group was a highlight of my business career. From a people perspective, the opportunity to promote people within an organization has always been rewarding.
What characteristics do you look for when hiring people into your workplace?
Highly motivated and a cultural fit for the organization. Someone who will challenge me and have a different thought process. We can always teach technical aspects if the candidate has the right core values and characteristics.
Why did you come to UT Dallas?
My decision was driven by Jasper Arnold. [The late Dr. Jasper H. Arnold III was the Executive MBA program director while Keswani was enrolled.] He was the turning point in my decision to come to UT Dallas. We had a philosophical discussion of what I wanted to achieve from the Executive MBA program, and the Jindal School of Management was the best fit.
What is your favorite UT Dallas memory?
Our Executive MBA cohort trip to Latin America was amazing! We went to Chile and Argentina, and while there, visited Cisco. That has certainly helped me in my current role of working in Latin America. The knowledge gained and experiences from that trip come back to me every day.
Did a UT Dallas professor inspire you?
Dr. David Springate is an incredible coach and mentor. I am still connected to him today, almost 10 years after graduating from the program.
Has something about your UT Dallas education surprised you since graduating?
The number of doors that have opened. People everywhere, especially in Texas, know of UT Dallas. Having an Executive MBA opens doors that wouldn’t have otherwise been open before.
What advice do you have for college students hoping to succeed professionally?
You get out of it what you put into it. Professors merely open the door. It is up to you to walk through it. It is up to you how positive and impactful that experience will be.
What makes an effective leader?
I am still learning. I believe in the servant leadership model. There are also three books I have drawn heavily from: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” by Marshall Goldsmith (2007, Hachette Books); “Good to Great,” by James C. Collins (2001, HarperBusiness); and “The Servant,” by James C. Hunter (1998, Prima).
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family. I believe in maintaining good health, both physically and mentally, so I go to the gym three to four times per week. As time permits, I enjoy traveling with my wife.