As a first year student at Delhi University's law faculty, Aditya Ghosh once grilled a friend's father about the legal profession (Ghosh was then still thinking of joining a B-school). That gentleman, legal eagle Jyoti Sagar, was impressed by Ghosh's demeanour and invited him to be his executive assistant. He later took him on as his only junior lawyer in the landmark basmati and turmeric patent cases.
At 28, Ghosh bagged the job of General Counsel for InterGlobe Enterprises, a travel services company that was a client of J. Sagar Associates. He worked on the IndiGo airline's 100-aircraft deal. When the three-year term of IndiGo's first CEO, Bruce Ashby, ended in 2008, IndiGo's promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwar had no doubt Ghosh was the ideal person to succeed him.
Ghosh's lack of a B-school qualification did not matter: they liked his ability to connect with employees and his inherent leadership qualities. Employees of most airlines typically never get to see the head office or any office if they are pilots or stewardesses, but even today Ghosh ensures he is accessible to IndiGo's 4,000 employees spread over 26 cities. A senior executive says Ghosh has met most of them. The self-deprecating Ghosh ("I am talentless and lazy") gives all credit to Team IndiGo. "I simply happened to be at the right place at the right time," he says.
His regular office wear: T-shirt, jeans, fleets and his IndiGo I-card lanyard. Work-life balance is an alien concept for him. While his phone is never switched off, unless he is on a flight, he told BT that his biggest victory the day we met him had been getting his three-year-old daughter to wear the correct pair of shoes to school. "She thinks she is 18... getting her ready for school every morning is an achievement," says Ghosh.
Ghosh has lived up to Bhatia and Gangwar's expectations, taking IndiGo to within kissing distance of the No. 1 spot in Indian skies, in just three years.
36, President, IndiGo
Been there: Was General Counsel of InterGlobe Group at 28, President of IndiGo at 32. IndiGo has zoomed past heavyweights like Jet Airways, Kingfisher
Done that: While studying law, he worked with legal eagle Jyoti Sagar
A-ha moment: When IndiGo's first flight took off in 2005-06; and last year, when IndiGo was named the travel industry's best employer
Formula for success: Be accessible to employees