Thirty years ago, Ashok Chawla stepped into the Ministry of Finance as a Deputy Secretary. On January 31, 2011, Chawla, 60, retired as Finance Secretary. "In one economic ministry after another over the last 30 years, I was witness to the evolution of the government from one of controls to one of deregulation," says Chawla, a key player to have managed that transition. The story of his career is the story of India changing. He was Managing Director of the agitation-hit Sardar Sarovar Dam Project. The softspoken and low-profile product of Delhi School of Economics was Chairman and MD of IPCL when it was privatised in 2002, and subsequently sat on board meetings with the new owners Mukesh and Anil Ambani. As Finance Secretary, he was a key player on the strategy team that worked on cushioning the economy against the global financial meltdown of 2008. Immediately after retirement, he was appointed Chairman of a committee to examine the allocation and pricing of scarce natural resources. True to character, Chawla has proposed market-linked answers to most of the problems the committee examined. He is now in the race for the top post at the Competition Commission of India.
High on energy
Girish S. Paranjpe, MD, Bloom Energy
After 20 years with Wipro Technologies, Girish S. Paranjpe will now head the international operation of Silicon Valley-based Bloom Energy. He will commission units, which will produce clean electricity for his clients, powered by Bloom's path-breaking solid oxide fuel cell technology. "Developed and emerging countries are looking for breakthrough alternatives to fulfil (their)growing electricity needs. There is an opportunity for me to do something significant, similar to what I did as part of the IT industry,'' says Paranjpe.
Jerome Favier, International Sales Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre
Jerome Favier is excited about being in India, a historical market for Jaeger-LeCoultre, the haute Swiss watchmaker. "It was in 1931 when we created a special watch called the Reverso for British polo players in India. Today, Reverso is an iconic watch brand and celebrates its 80th anniversary this year," he says. Jaeger-LeCoultre is also setting up its India office in New Delhi. With Bollywood stars like Saif Ali Khan and Ranbir Kapoor among its clients, it does make sense for it to be here. Like most international brands, Jaeger-LeCoultre also views India as a market that cannot be ignored. "We believe a lot in our future in this country. We would like to be a part of the India growth story. We do not want to just sell watches but also entertain people with fine watchmaking, which is an art in itself," says Favier.
Manu Sawhney, MD, ESPN STAR Sports
It is not easy managing a joint venture between two rival media conglomerates. But Manu Sawhney, who takes care of ESPN STAR Sports, Asia's largest sports broadcast network, does it with aplomb. ESPN STAR is a JV between fierce rivals News Corp. and Disney. So it is not surprising that Sawhney, who first came into the limelight when he headed the Indian arm of the sports broadcaster, made it to the Top 10 list of Sportcal.com's listing of the most influential people in sports broadcasting. This, following the massive ratings during the 2011 ICC World Cup where ESPN STAR was the host broadcaster, has made the year a great one for Sawhney. But he now faces a new challenge - that of getting sports fans to start watching ESPN on other media, including attracting online fans to ESPN Player, an on-demand online platform.
'Tiger' Tyagarajan, COO, Genpact
If you work in the business process outsourcing industry and the name Nallicheri Vaidyanathan Tyagarajan sounds a tongue-twister, it may be a good career move to start rolling your Rs. For, 'Tiger' Tyagarajan, as he is better known, takes over the top job at Genpact on June 17 from Pramod Bhasin, who built the BPO firm into a $1.25 billion, 41,000-strong business. "I have been closely involved with all strategic decisions of the last few years and so few changes on that front," says Tyagarajan, 50. What he will do differently is travel a lot more - nearly 200 days a year - meeting customers. "You determine your future a little more that way," he says. Other immediate targets: deeper domain expertise in teams and dispersing of Genpact's "centre of universe" so that 60 to 70 per cent of senior leaders are located close to customers, about double that of the numbers today.-Josey Puliyenthuruthel
Attilio Capuano, Director, Asia-Pacific, Lavazza
"We are not a coffee shop," says Attilio Capuano. He's been fielding questions on why his company's Indian operations, under the Barista Lavazza umbrella, are in second place, behind home-grown Café Coffee Day. Lavazza, set up sometime in 1895 in the heart of Turin, calls itself Italy's favourite coffee. But the London-born Capuano, 48, is going against the grain. His plans for Barista mean the chain will have a broad-brush approach - with a presence in the retail, branded coffee segment, in cafe products, as well as in the coffee machines segment. During his 14-year stint with the Italian confectionary giant Ferrero, Capuano managed the Indian subcontinent between 2004 and 2008. "India is one of the most dynamic markets I've ever worked in," he says. "You open one outlet, the market dynamics change, so there is no point in just opening outlets."-Geetanjali Shukla