It’s been a little over a year since Peyush Bansal—chief executive of Lenskart—also took over as its chief people officer. But attracting and retaining talent remains as hard as ever for the $4.5 billion-worth eyewear retailer.
Critical positions, including that of the chief marketing officer (CMO), have gone unfilled for years. After Pankaj Kankar’s departure in 2019, co-founder Ramneek Khurana has taken on additional responsibilities as the chief technology officer (CTO). The departure of chief financial officer (CFO) Smeer Chopra to join smart wearables brand Noise in December 2022 has left the company in search of a replacement.
“Such roles being vacant for 2-3 months amidst a transition is common, but not for long periods of time,” said an investment professional.
Additionally, former employees report that key positions, including heads of revenue, online business, content, and others, have remained unfilled for more than two years. The hiring problems have extended to Lenskart’s global aspirations as the company has struggled to find leaders for international operations, marketing, and other departments throughout much of 2022.
However, none of this has stopped the company’s impressive growth, with revenue rising ~65% to Rs 1,500 crore (US$182 million) in the year ended March 2022. The popularity of the reality television series Shark Tank—on which Bansal assesses pitches from new businesses as a “shark” investor—has also helped the recognition of the Lenskart brand. But its financial prowess only makes its inability to fill critical positions seem more perplexing.
“People are skeptical of joining the company,” according to a former senior employee, who said that a vast majority of the CXOs CXOs Stands for Chief X Officer, a generic term for a senior job title where X represents the specific position. at Lenskart have left the company in just 12-18 months of joining. “Their experience with the founder has not been pleasant, to say the least, and few would recommend others to work for the company.”
Many of the current and former employees The Ken spoke with credited Bansal with strengths, such as sales acumen, brand-building, and a knack for data analysis. But they also pointed out that under Bansal’s tenure, the company’s senior leadership has suffered from a lack of autonomy, outsized influence of his family, arbitrary modification of targets, and non-payment of bonuses and incentives. Some have even attributed recent investor exits to the company’s people problems, construed as the biggest challenge to its growth.