Campaign guruHe has created one of the top campaign and election technology companies in the US and “couldn’t have ignored the world’s biggest democracy any longer”. Ravi Singh, CEO, Founder of Election Mall Technologies Inc., recently visited India to set up R&D facilities in New Delhi and Bangalore. Singh’s company is a non-partisan technology solutions firm providing political parties and candidates with the necessary online tools and services to target their voters via the internet. But will such a set-up work in India? Singh, 35, says: “I am looking forward to a day when people can log on to a rahulgandhi.com.” Mum’s the word though on the US Presidential elections. “It’s neck and neck… can’t afford to lose revenues by naming one candidate, can I?” he laughs. He is sure of one thing though—the business of democracy is “lucrative”.
The homecomingGopal Vittal, 41, was selected by Business Today as one of its Hot Young Executives back in 2006. Little wonder then, the Hindustan Unilever’s man and IIM Calcutta alum was subsequently poached by telecom giant Airtel. As Director (Marketing and Communication), he helped position Airtel brand in virtually every part of the country. But as the adage goes, ‘home is where the heart is’—Vittal is now travelling back to Hindustan Unilever to head the Home and Personal Care (HPC) category that was until recently headed by HUL’s new MD Nitin Paranjpe. The consumer goods company rarely hires back executives, but Vittal, who refused to comment on the move, is possibly too good a talent to let go of, or that is what Paranjpe seems to think.
Beyond cyclesSome big dreams start young—as in the case of Ashwin Kapur, Executive Director, Atlas Laboratories and Pharmaceuticals (ALP). The third-generation entrepreneur of the Gwalior-based cycle manufacturer Atlas Group, Kapur, 23, has steered the company to foray into the $48-billion (Rs 1,92,000 crore) domestic pharma industry. Was it Kapur’s entrepreneurial ambitions or Atlas’ inclination towards the health business that prompted the move? “It was a combination of both. We are already running a couple of hospitals. Also, in the last three years, the growth rate of the domestic pharma industry has been impressive,” says an enthusiastic Kapur. In the next 4-5 years, ALP aims to have about 100-150 products (from 15 now) with a turnover of Rs 500 crore. Kapur, who joined the family business last year, hopes to have a shot at early success.
Small car, big dreamAsk Michael Boneham, 51, about india and he answers simply, “It’s hot, both the weather and the food. But so is the car market.” The Australian, who will take over as Ford India’s new Managing Director from June, is looking forward to his stint in India. As the company’s head of production for Asia-Pacific, he oversaw the company’s expansion at the Chennai plant and is now gearing up for the world’s #3 car maker’s foray into the small car market. “What I can tell you is that the product we are planning will take the market by storm,” declares a confident Boneham. Even though consumers will have to wait a while before the small car sees the light of day, Boneham hopes it will increase the company’s presence on the roads.
Tryst with marketsNational Commodity and Derivatives Exchange’s (NCDEX) new CEO and MD R Ramaseshan, 51, would have been a market veteran had he had his way five years back. His plans to quit IAS and join an exchange came a cropper in 2003 when the then Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna got him to stay back. He was sent to head the Karnataka State Beverages Corporation, a new entity set up to take over the wholesale distribution of liquor and plug leaks in revenue. To his credit, Ramaseshan took liquor tax revenues to dizzying heights from Rs 600 crore in 2003 to Rs 2,400 crore in 2006. Ramaseshan’s ex-colleagues speak of his work in awe; so will probably the new ones, thanks to his deep knowledge of markets. An engineer qualified in cost accountancy with an MBA, he headed the North India region of National Stock Exchange in 1996-98. Ramaseshan seems determined to script a whole new success story. “I want to see NCDEX become a premier exchange of Aisa,” he signs off.
Videocon’s leading manLG’S erstwhile whizkid K.R. Kim, 60, is set to wear a new hat after retiring from the Korean giant in December last year. Durable major Videocon has successfully wooed Kim to lead its ambitious growth plans for the global consumer electronics operations. Videocon Industries’ officials were not willing to comment on the issue, at the time BT went to press. A law graduate from Seoul National University, Kim has had an experience of over 30 years with the Korean durable heavyweight. His philosophy of innovation, openness and partnership are often cited as prime factors in taking the LG brand to such a height. The aggressive marketer has an ability to diagnose current trends in the market, products, people and internal processes. Will Kim, as the Chairman and Managing Director, repeat the magic for Videocon? Wait, and watch this space.
—Contributed by K.R. Balasubramanyam, Anumeha Chaturvedi, Kushan Mitra, Manu Kaushik and Anusha Subramanian