Akhil Gupta, vice chairman, Bharti Enterprises took two-and-a-half years to write his first book 'Some Sizes Fit All'. Much of the book was written in longhand with pen and paper on long international flights. That's not something that he can do today with flights grounded. Like a professional writer, Gupta had the title of the book clearly in mind before he put pen to paper.
Akhil who has been part of the top management of Bharti Enterprises is the best bet on anything to do with numbers. Here Gupta draws the reader through three sections in the book at a managerial level. In a way, it is a grounds up view from someone who has seen the Indian mobile telecom sector evolve over the past 25 years. While there are many managerial learnings, Gupta has woven in his skills as a chartered accountant to maintain continuity and explains issues that most businesses tackle daily.
The first section on "Fundamental Pillars of Management", he tackles issues such as outsourcing operations (IT); what the DNA of a company is and organisational structure (OS). As Gupta points out: "A common mistake observed over the years is the tendency to change the OS based on favourite individuals. To my mind, a successful human resources function must fit the right persons into the OS and not the other way around."
Gupta's advice to start-ups is self-explanatory. "I would recommend to all businesses in the early stages to first focus on getting a commitment for equity (even if it is subject to requisite debt-raising) rather than vice versa, that is, first getting debt tied up and then looking for equity." He also suggests that for following high standards of corporate governance, listing is the best way forward for a company.
In the second section, he tackles issues faced by various disciplines in an organization. That includes human resources, finance, IT and legal among others. "A good organization must have it deeply ingrained in its DNA that as an employer, it is part of its duty to develop its people and help them grow and not destroy their careers. At Bharti, we take enormous pride that our former colleagues are in leadership positions in different organizations across industries and geographies."
In the last section, Activities and norms that comprise the "Way of Working" of an organization, is full of learnings. Gupta starts off mentioning that companies should keep communication lines open with competition. Secondly, it is important to get vendors to trust the company. Only then will they deliver the best. And on meetings, Gupta is clear - no meeting should exceed two hours and people have to come in prepared.
All told, Gupta has used his vast experience in telecom to bring out to the reader what one needs to do in managing a large enterprise that has to deal with intense competition and handle regulatory issues together. Management must-read.