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People, places and products

Here is our take on people, places and products doing the rounds these days.

Print Edition: October 17, 2010

Rajiv Kaul, CEO, CMS Infosystems

Can't Help Being a CEO

After 10 years at Microsoft India, the last few at the helm, Rajiv Kaul, 41, had just been getting into the groove of a private equity, or PE, investor when the CEO bug bit him again. Leaving Microsoft India in 2006, he had joined PE firm Actis in London. But this stint ended when an attempt to buy Patni Computer Systems fell through. Kaul then joined Blackstone, another PE firm, and played a key role in buying out the family-run CMS Computers (now CMS Infosystems) in early 2009. While looking for a CEO to run it, Kaul realised that he fit the bill. "I saw potential and, like it or not, I did tick all the boxes as a potential CEO, so I took it on." CMS's largest business today has nothing to do with computers: it is India's largest cash delivery company. "We (also) have a massive printing services division which printed a billion and a half bills last year and we are the oldest credit and debit card personalisation press," he says. Kaul is extremely optimistic about taking revenues from Rs 670 crore last year to Rs 2,000 crore by 2014-15, with margins growing 50 per cent. "There are massive opportunities across India. What CMS lacked was vision and aggression, which I believe I bring in." It appears that Kaul wants to make CMS his legacy, his achievement. You can't fault a gold medallist from XLRI Jamshedpur for dreaming big. But, by his own admission, you could possibly fault his golf game.

-Kushan Mitra

Paul Drummond, Co-founder and Group Commercial Director, Quintessentially

Concierge to the Super Rich

After qualifying as a solicitor in 1997, PAUL DRUMMOND worked at law firm Norton Rose for three years. He was beginning to get bored when he met Ben Elliot, a nightclub owner and nephew of Camilla Parker Bowles (wife of Prince Charles, duh!). "We became good friends and realised that we were often approached by the rich and connected for restaurant reservations and club bookings," says Drummond, 38. Thus was born Quintessentially, a private members's club and concierge service. Be it arranging passes for a post-Oscar ceremony, or sending pork bellies from London to Thailand for a member, they have done it all, with offices and agents in 52 cities. It entered India in March this year, and has already tied up with a few Indian brands. With a members list that includes the likes of Lakshmi Mittal and Mick Jagger, getting high net worth Indians to register should not be a tough task.

-Anumeha Chaturvedi

Arjun Baljee Founder and Director, Peppermint Hotels

Five-star, but affordable

He has worked extensively at his family's Royal Orchid Group and also at hotel chains such as Four Seasons, The Oberoi Group and ITC Hotels. So, it is hardly surprising when Arjun Baljee, a hospitality graduate from Cornell University with an executive MBA from IIM Bangalore, says that setting up hotels is the only thing he knows. Addressing a gap in mid-priced stylish accommodation, Baljee has founded the Peppermint brand. "I'd call Peppermint a budget boutique brand... the design sensibility and amenities are at par with any other five-star," says Baljee, 30. The first property came up in Gurgaon in July this year. "The properties will be high on design and we've had a lot of fun with the brand," he says. Here's hoping guests agree.

-Anumeha Chaturvedi

R. Mathiseelan, MD, Image Ventures

Animation for the World

This plastics engineer was hooked by animation when his brother was working on a movie project. R. MATHISEELAN, 38, learnt the technology and set off on his own. Today, as Managing Director of Image Ventures, he is out to conquer the hearts of children with Bommi and Friends, the first Indian animated movie for global audiences that does not have mythical characters. KidsCo, among the largest players in distributing children's content, has acquired the licence to distribute the serial in some foreign territories. Though venture capitalists are expressing interest in the company, for now Mathiseelan has managed with his own funds and debt.

-Nitya Varadarajan

D. Chandrasekharam Professor, IIT Bombay

Blow Hot, Never Cold

India uses electricity from a host of sources - mostly dirty, some clean. Now, D. CHANDRASEKHARAM of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, who has been studying geothermal energy for decades, has decided to put the theory into practice. Geosyndicate Power, incubated under him, has signed a power purchase deal with Andhra Pradesh for a 25 MW plant in Khammam district. Such plants use steam from a water table that lies above hot rocks to run turbines. Chandrasekharam, 61, says: "This is new only to India. Elsewhere, there is already 10,000-MW-plus of capacity. These units are very efficient, continuously yielding up to 97 per cent of their rated capacity.''

-K.R.Balasubramanyam

HTC Desire Z

Good, Better, Best

Many consider the HTC Desire the best Android device available now but HTC wants to change that perception with its Desire Z. The device gains a slide out keypad, and while it uses a slightly slower Qualcomm 7320 processor (the Desire has the Snapdragon), the Desire Z will be coming with HTCSense.com services, which include a 'Find Your Phone' feature to remotely lock and wipe your data in case the phone is lost.

Price: Around Rs 25,000
Availability: October 2010.

-Kushan Mitra

The Next C'Wealth Games

For a quick contrast with the mismanagement at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, check out Glasgow, Scotland's largest city and the venue of the 2014 Games. Don't expect to catch much construction work in progress: 70 per cent of the venues are already in place. Glasgow also has an excellent transport system, and will be spending �2 billion to upgrade what it has. The hotels are the cheapest from January to March. Take in the river front, which showcases its maritime history (it was the second city of the British Empire).

-Somnath Dasgupta

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