A pictorial delightThis has all the makings of a picture-perfect dream. Punj Lloyd’s Chairman Atul Punj has launched the group’s Photographic Foundation and its first limited edition calendar for the year 2008. To mark the beginning of the venture, an exhibition aptly called ‘Wanderlust’ was presented in association with former JWT India Creative Director Rohit Chawla. The opening theme: the Gujarati nomadic community of Rabaris in a studio set-up. Punj, 47, draws an analogy: “True to the wandering nature of our business crossing many boundaries, selection of Rabaris as a subject for the calendar came naturally to us.” The launch is only a precursor to the setting up of Punj Lloyd Photographic Foundation to promote and celebrate photographic art. “In times to come, we will actively support upcoming artists through the foundation,” adds the new champion of diversity. Punj seems to be on the right track, one frame at a time.
The homecomingJust a day into the new year, it was time for a homecoming of sorts for R. SANKAR. Sankar, 48, recently quit as head of Mercer in India to join PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as Executive Director, People & Change Consulting. While he has had two earlier stints spanning 10 years at PWC, his mandate this time around is to take PWC’s people practice to the next level of growth. Talk of his achievements at Mercer and a modest Sankar says: “I am happy that we were able to put in practice (at Mercer) what we tell our clients.” He is credited with shaping the Mercer brand and HR consulting practice in India. For this cricket buff and classical music aficionado, success is a way of life and life’s philosophy, a Chinese maxim that says: “Every day is a little life and life is but a day repeated.”
First among equalsAfter all the hard work, comes the reward. Three months before he could complete his second year in the company, Raghu Pillai, Chief Executive of Operations and Strategy, Reliance Retail, got inducted onto the company’s board with effect from December 2007. What makes this induction exceptional is that Pillai is the first Reliance Retail executive to be given a board position. However, it’s business as usual for the 50-year-old Pillai, who maintains that “there is absolutely no change in my workload and schedule” post his elevation.
That might just change with the company undergoing restructuring to break down the different retail arms into around 30 subsidiaries. During the last year, Reliance Retail had to shut shop in several states and could not meet its target of 550 stores by 2007-end. With the industry abuzz with talks of a possible deal with French retail major Carrefour, Pillai surely has his hands full.
Weathering a stormBy all accounts, the odds were in favour of banker Puranam Hayagreeva Ravikumar when he stepped into the corner office of the newly set-up national level commodity exchange ‘NCDEX’ in 2003. His close competitor was Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX)—promoted by an unknown first generation entrepreneur Jignesh Shah. Ravikumar, 56, won the battle of turnover hands down in the initial years, but soon the spiraling commodity prices had put the NCDEX’s Ravikumar at the centre of UPA policymakers’ ire. This was followed by a ban on futures trading in wheat, rice, urad and chana. That spelt trouble and as a result, Ravikumar’s NCDEX market share plummeted to below 25 per cent in the last one year. He is now toeing the MCX line by shifting focus to metals. The ray of hope for the seasoned banker is that the commodities market is attracting huge volumes. That’s the reason he has already put his ‘quit’ rumours to rest. Ravikumar, with over three decades of banking experience, seems certainly set for a fightback.
A job well done
This is an enormous setback for Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. A couple of months before the Union Budget, his key aide and advisor Parthasarathy Shome, 57, has put in his papers. Shome was reportedly not getting along with his peers in the ministry. Part of one of the strongest teams of economists at the finance ministry, Shome has had an eventful stint that started in October 2004, initially for three years. His tenure was recently extended till October 2009. Shome is a taxation expert and last year was the architect of the tax policy in the Budget—the fringe benefit tax and the cash withdrawal tax were believed to be his brainchild. Clearly, the FM is going to miss the presence of his pointperson on important policy matters. Shome was not available for comment but is believed to be headed for a new assignment abroad.
The Adroit strategistJust around the time rumours are thick that Wipro is eyeing Capgemini, The behemoth’s M&A strategist Sudip Nandy has moved up one notch on the corporate new CEO of Wipro’s telecom and product engineering solutions. Nandy, 49, hasn’t The acquisitions he handled since Vivek Paul’s exit in July 2005 were not all smooth. strategist has since come a long way. Since Paul’s exit, Wipro has snapped up the largest being Infocrossing for $600 million (Rs 2,400 crore). Bangalore as Chief Strategy Officer four years ago, the deft strategist European business and took it from an annual $55 million to $240 evidently, continues to be the turnaround man for Wipro.
— contributed by Manu Kaushik, Saumya Bhattacharya, Rishi Joshi, Pallavi Srivastava, Anand Adhikari and K R Balasubramanyam