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People business

Leaders who consistently think ahead of their time are a rare breed. A list of global Indians who put the country on the world map.

THE GURU
C.K. Prahalad
C.K. Prahalad
C.K. Prahalad (1941 - 2010)
Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Thought leaders who consistently think ahead of their time are a rare breed. So it was with deep sorrow that the world of business mourned the passing away of Professor C.K. Prahalad in April 2010. His breadth of expertise made him the foremost management thinker of his generation.

From managing multinationals to core competence, from the bottom of the pyramid market to innovation, Prahalad's range was exceptional. In 1960, at the age of 19, as a young physics graduate, Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad began working at the Union Carbide plant in Chennai. For many of his peers, getting a steady job was the pinnacle of achievement.

Not for Prahalad who four years later went to the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, for his postgraduate degree. By the time he was 34, he had a doctorate from Harvard Business School, having completed his thesis in a record 30 months. Prahalad always pushed the envelope on creativity and innovation.

His prognosis for India's growth was that by 2022 there will be 30 Indian companies among the top 100 corporations in the world, with the country accounting for 10 per cent of world trade and boasting the largest pool of trained manpower. "It will be a developed nation by many, many standards," he had said. "But I prefer that we still think of ourselves as emerging. If you already think you have arrived, then there is no need to experiment any more; no need to innovate."

A fitting tribute, then, that the country of his birth is being increasingly seen as the innovation hub for the developing world.

Ram Charan
Ram Charan
Ram Charan
Management Guru
How many management consultants engaged by the top 20 global corporations have gathered their insights at roadside markets from Managua to Varanasi? Just one, really. Ram Charan, a consultant who CEOs ranging from General Electric's Jeff Immelt to Coca-Cola's Muhtar Kent turn to for business fixes. Most of his learnings, the Hapur, Uttar Pradeshborn Charan says, came at his family's Bata footwear shop he helped run with 11 siblings and cousins.

Nitin Nohria
Nitin Nohria
Nitin Nohria
Dean, Harvard Business School
"Generosity has been the most important life lesson for me. If you are generous, life gives you back," Nitin Nohria had said when taking over as the 10th dean of Harvard Business School in the summer of 2010. And gives back in abundance, it seems.

The first foreign-born dean of HBS is an expert on leadership and sustainable performance. Nohria received his BTech in chemical engineering in 1984 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

"It prepared me for what I am today," he said of his days at IIT. At Harvard, he is focused on making his term a period of innovation and he sees HBS taking some lessons from enterprises in India.

Sunil Kumar
Sunil Kumar
Sunil Kumar
Dean, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Sunil Kumar was one of the stars in education as an expert in operations research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. But in July, his orbit changed trajectory when he was named the dean of the secondoldest business school in the United States: the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. For Kumar, who will take up his new job from January 1, it has been a long road since graduating in engineering from Mangalore University and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

THE RICH AND THE POWERFUL
Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi
Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
Indra Krishnamurthy is a name which is taken very proudly on the Joka campus of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. After all, her rise - she took on the Nooyi surname after marriage - to the top seat at PepsiCo is one of the most uplifting stories for any Indian migr to the United States. The past year has been a busy one for Nooyi, as she merged two of PepsiCo's largest bottlers in North America with it and set up a new company, the Pepsi Beverages Company, and also unveiled a new logo. Nooyi's emphasis on PepsiCo's foods business, with the focus on healthier snacks, is playing out well in India. On the personal front, the year ended on a cheery note for the Chennai girl with news of her sister Chandrika Tandon being tipped to win a Grammy.

Vinod Khosla
Vinod Khosla
Vinod Khosla
Founder, Khosla Ventures
If there is one Indian name all of Silicon Valley knows, it is probably Vinod Khosla. He made his first few millions as Cofounder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, after which he joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of America's top venture capital firms. When he left KPCB, he was said to be worth $5 billion.

With Khosla Ventures, he established one of the leading funds for environmentally-friendly start-ups, particularly in energy. Some of his investee companies are far from going commercial, but if any of them hit the jackpot it will not only make Khosla a richer man, it could substantially solve the global energy crisis.

And earlier this year, Khosla brought former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on board as an advisor.

Nikesh Arora
Nikesh Arora
Nikesh Arora
President, Global Sales Operations and Business Development, Google
When Nikesh Arora gave his first interview to Business Today in 2009, he could not have imagined that he would become a media superstar in India. Every visit the fourth-most powerful man at Google makes to India these days is tracked by the media. But more importantly, Arora's constant globe-hopping is helping the Internet behemoth he works for become even larger. In India, Google declared revenues of `779 crore between January 2009 and March 2010, with exceptional profit margins. No wonder he is smiling.

Vikram Pandit
Vikram Pandit
Vikram Pandit
CEO, Citigroup
"Torrid" would be a very mild term to describe Vikram Pandit's first two years in the hot seat of one of America's most storied financial institutions, Citigroup. But 2010 has been kinder to Citigroup and has allowed Pandit to come into his own, a far cry from the time he was described as the "Most Powerless Powerful Man on Wall Street" by New York magazine. Recently, when the US government sold off the last tranche of its holding in Citigroup, the financial conglomerate announced it had made US taxpayers a slight profit. Guess why Pandit is heard these days talking up Citigroup's massive global opportunities, not least in the country of his birth.

Lakshmi Narayan Mittal
Lakshmi Narayan Mittal
Lakshmi Narayan Mittal
Chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal
Thirty-four years after he split from his family at the age of 26, L.N. Mittal is among the five richest people in the world. But 2010 was a relatively quiet year for the man. He enhanced his stake to a majority in English football club Queens Park Rangers, but his Indian ventures have not fared well. Several projects have been held up for lack of environmental clearances and red-tape. The way out may be a buyout of brother Pramod Mittal-run Ispat Industries, as rumoured. That would be some homecoming.

Padmasree Warrior
Padmasree Warrior
Padmasree Warrior
Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Systems
Undoubtedly the most famous female alum of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, she is currently guiding Cisco Systems through one of the most interesting phases in its history. As more and more devices connect to the Internet - Warrior estimates such devices to number one trillion by 2013 - her role is to oversee the creation of equipment and technology at Cisco that will support this. And as more Indians will go online for the first time, it is likely that there will be a bit of Warrior in their lives.

Anshu Jain
Anshu Jain
Anshu Jain
Head, Corporate & Investment Banking, Deutsche Bank
Jaipur-born Anshu Jain's candidature for the top job at Deutsche Bank received a further leg-up after he was appointed head of its investment banking division in July. Jain has been a front-runner for the CEO's position for some time now. But the fact that he does not speak German is said to be a handicap. Some of Germany's biggest companies are led by non-German heads, but many in the bank believe it is simply inconceivable for Deutsche Bank to do the same. Ducking the succession issue in 2009, the bank board awarded CEO Josef Ackermann a three-year extension - and perhaps Jain a chance to learn German.

Sanjay Jha
Sanjay Jha
Sanjay Jha
CEO, Motorola Mobile Devices
If you use a smartphone with a Qualcomm chipset inside, it is likely that Sanjay Jha's fingerprints are all over it. But when he left Qualcomm to join Motorola in late 2008, people wondered what he was up to. Early this year they got their answer as Motorola launched a slew of devices running Google's Android operating system that has helped the company return to significance. Jha, however, still has quite a task cut out for him, as the Motorola Mobile Devices division spins off from the mother company in early 2011.

DIRTY LAUNDRY
Swraj Paul
Swraj Paul
Swraj Paul
British Businessman and Politician
In late 2009 and early 2010 British politics was rocked by the parliamentary expenses scam. Members of the British parliament were accused of having made expense claims on false grounds. Swraj Paul, the founder of auto component maker Caparo Group, a longtime Labour Party supporter and a member of the House of Lords since 1996, was one of those sullied. Paul was accused of falsely claiming a seemingly inconsequential 41,982 (Rs 3 lakh), bizarre for a founder of a group worth over i1 billion. Along with two other peers of South Asian extraction, Paul was suspended from the House for four months.

Rajat Gupta
Rajat Gupta
Rajat Gupta
Management Consultant
To be fair to Rajat Gupta, the former managing director of McKinsey & Company worldwide, investigations by US prosecutors that he provided insider information to Raj Rajaratnam of the discredited Galleon Group hedge fund have so far proved inconclusive. But, Gupta's spotless reputation was muddied, as the American media railed against 'Wall Street Fat Cats'.

He decided not to stand for reelection to the Goldman Sachs board of directors. But Gupta has been busy in other ways. In July he took over as the Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce and in November he was roped in to advise a grouping of large corporations fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. But until US prosecutors drop his name from the probe, Gupta will find it hard to clear the Galleon stain.

By Kushan Mitra, Rajiv Bhuva, Saumya Bhattacharya and Puja Mehra

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