Amandeep Kochar

Amandeep Kochar

A man joined Baker & Taylor, Baker & Taylor – the world’s premier distributor of physical and digital books and services to public and academic libraries – as Executive Vice President Software Products, Services, and PK12 EdTech in June 2014. He was EVP-Sales, Product Management, Services, and Technology Operations from December 2017 to May 2019. From June 2019 to November 2021, he served as Executive Vice President and General Manager. Eventually, in November 2021, Aman purchased Baker & Taylor from Follett Corporation. Currently, he is serving as the President and CEO of the company. Under his stewardship, Baker & Taylor launched its own Paw Prints Publishing in 2022, bringing physical and ebooks to its youngest readers.

Speaking about his mission, Aman says, “My mission is to share inspirational and enlightening stories with children and teens from all walks of life, with a particular emphasis on work featuring underrepresented children.”

He also penned the first book in the series, titled Jeet and Fudge – the story of a young Sikh boy named Jeet and his adorable side-kick chocolate labradoodle. The book is about a young Sikh boy and his dog. For Aman, it is reminiscent of his childhood and his pet dog.

A goal-driven leader, Aman aims to transform the company selling books since 1828 into a genuine community outcomes provider. His short-term goal is to enhance Baker & Taylor’s operational efficiency in the post-pandemic era.

His long-term vision is to become the leader in library innovation. Besides physical book distribution, which is his company’s core business, he plans to introduce complementary services such as digital content distribution, predictive analytics and software, and sustainable supply chains in the long run.

Facing Challenges Head On

In the wake of COVID-19, many businesses worldwide faced unprecedented challenges. With 95% of libraries closed nationwide, Baker & Taylor, too, had to face a challenging situation.

As book orders remained stagnant, Aman remained optimistic and faced the situation boldly. He realised this was not an opportunity for innovation. Engaging the staff in creating DEI was the next step in his plan. It allowed employees to remain engaged and enabled librarians to enhance engagement by adding diverse books efficiently.

A Thought Leader

Aman takes a proactive role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in libraries and at work. As a thought leader, he focuses a lot on representation and intersectionality. He is not someone who simply talks about diversity; he develops technology that allows cities worldwide to provide adults and children with education, knowledge, and hope. Furthermore, Aman provides programming to librarians worldwide and spearheads the formation of internal committees such as the Diversity Council and author webinars.

As a result of the industry veteran’s leadership, Baker & Taylor launched a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion solution in 2021 that offers public libraries a way to discover, archive, and manage diversity related books across print and digital formats. Using this technology, librarians can scan library catalogues and identify gaps in representation.

The solution also allows them to order titles that address overlooked topics. Among Aman’s favourite books is Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, which encourages you to grow as an individual, build a cohesive, kick-ass team and achieve exceptional results. The principles mentioned in the book serve as a guide to his leadership, and he encourages his team to do the same.

In addition, the leader promotes a culture of innovation where everyone in the organisation feels comfortable failing forward. Finally, he approaches everything with kindness and grit.

An Advocate of Reading

Aman aspires to transform lives and society by encouraging the habit of reading. Besides championing reading, the visionary promotes diversity, especially in children’s books. He firmly believes that variety, especially in children’s books, can transform our communities for the better.

He says, “Young readers can more easily identify with the characters in their stories because of the diversity in the library’s shelf.” He adds, “Reading also enables us to gain insight into the lives of people we may not fully understand, thus fostering empathy and kindness.” Aman promotes these ideas in his weekly LinkedIn videos, at speaking engagements, and on the boards on which he sits.

Racking Up Accolades

Aman’s leadership skills have earned him several awards and accolades, including EdTech Digest 2021 Global Leader Award; Charlotte Business Journal 40 under 40 Award; Publishers Weekly Notable People 2021; and Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 leaders under 50.

Reinventing Baker & Taylor as the owner operator has been Aman’s career high point. Taking a 194-year-old company and building on the culture so it thrives for the next 200 years is a commendable task.

Additionally, he credits his success to his team members as a team player. He claims, “It is an incredible accomplishment to have our entire company of more than 1,400 team members focused on assisting our library partners in improving outcomes in their communities. We did it by fostering innovation, refusing to recognise the status quo, and disrupting the way libraries have traditionally been served.”

A Benevolent Leader

Aman’s roles in life revolve around serving those around him in the best capacity possible. He never hesitates to fight for the marginalised sections. Fighting for others’ rights gives him the purpose to live. As he puts it, having a clear goal to focus on and a set of priorities to guide your activities makes you successful.

Under Aman’s leadership, the company focuses on corporate social responsibility initiatives ranging from internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives to ecologically sustainable practices.

He directed the Baker & Taylor’s launch of the Sustainable Shelves Program during the COVID-19 outbreak. He and his team knew that when libraries reopened, they would have to deal with older volumes that needed to be eliminated to create room for new books. He devised an automated approach that allowed libraries to return their used materials to the company so that the latter could either resell the books to another library or dispose of them sustainably.

The business leader also developed an award-winning, industry-leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Analysis programme that allows a library to assess where its existing collection stands with industry accepted topics. The programme also evaluates the representation of diverse communities in its print and digital collections and helps make material recommendations to build a diverse selection.