Business Today

Think change

Amar Babu seems to relish the heat and dust of the fast-growing Indian market. Just months after moving to the US as MD, South Asia (Sales and Marketing Group), Intel, Babu finds himself back home.

     Print Edition: December 30, 2007

Think change

AMAR BABU seems to relish the heat and dust of the fast-growing Indian market. Just months after moving to the US as MD, South Asia (Sales and Marketing Group), Intel, Babu finds himself back home: this time as the Managing Director of Lenovo India. From trying to sell chips to computer makers, Babu, 40, will now focus on trying to ramp up the firm’s share in a market growing by around 20 per cent annually. “Lenovo is a growing force in the global PC market and has achieved impressive traction in India, in a short span of time,” Babu says. The electrical and electronics engineer and management grad from XLRI who has worked in companies as diverse as HCL and Citibank earlier, will have to use all his local knowledge to boost Lenovo’s profile in India. Running a PC business, however, won’t be entirely new to him, since Babu played a key role in re-establishing the HCL-Toshiba relationship in India. That sure gives him a headstart.

Technology transfer

Twenty-Three years after she joined telecom equipment giant Motorola, PADMASREE WARRIOR, 47, has moved on from the company she helped re-define. She has joined networking equipment major Cisco as its Chief Technology Officer. Warrior, who was instrumental in redefining Motorola from a stodgy and slow-to-react company, into a cutting-edge firm (thanks primarily to its Moto Razr handset), is betting on an entirely different market. The chemical engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, wrote in her first post on The Platform, Cisco’s official blog: “I enjoy envisioning and creating the future, and leveraging technology leadership for business growth.” Time for Warrior to recreate the Razr magic at Cisco.

Going whole hog

She’s put in 25 years in IT, including her stint with IBM and Citibank. VANAJA ARVIND, 59, Executive Director, Thinksoft Global, is now set to show her prowess with culinary skills by dishing out some of her yummy ‘Wholistic Breads’, that her family and friends swear by, to Chennaites at large. “I am really inspired by the Grand Sweets (a popular sweet/savoury outlet in Chennai), which has generated tremendous employment for women in a different socio-economic strata,” she says. Arvind has set up a baking unit and she’s organising a displaycounter at her home, from where she will initially operate. She intends to follow up her range of wholegrain breads that use honey, unbleached sugar and olive oil, with soups later. Though right now she’s taking it slow as December is turning out to be unusually hectic for IT and also because she is yet to find a manager for her new enterprise. Wearing dual hats does require some assistance.

Trailblazer, uninterrupted

You have got to hand it to SUNIL MITTAL. The first generation entrepreneur, who commands India’s largest telecom company, with 50 million customers, has now been ranked third in Forbes magazine’s 20 self-made Asian billionaires list. And with good reason as his captivating journey to a net worth of $12.5 billion illustrates. Mittal, 50, started his first business in 1976 with a capital investment of Rs 20,000 (borrowed from his father) and started manufacturing crankshafts for local bicycle manufacturers. He’s come a long way since then to build the Bharti Group into India’s largest mobile phone operator. Even now when it came to fighting for the rights of his firm Bharti Airtel or the cellular operators in India, the hands-on Mittal makes sure to take up the job himself. Next on his ambition list: he now plans to play the retail game in India in a big way. Others beware; Mittal has been there, done that, after all.

Better late than never

Call it a volte face. Nearly nine months after the police firing at Nandigram, West Bengal Chief Minister BUDDHADEB BHATTACHARJEE, 63, has finally admitted that the incident was a political and administrative failure. That’s not all. Bhattacharjee even regretted his vexed comments after the November carnage that the Opposition in Nandigram was paid back in its own coin by the CPM cadre. What has brought about this change in his stance? The troubled CM perhaps gave in to the pressure from all quarters. Bhattacharjee’s government got a drubbing from the Calcutta High Court, the state Governor and the intelligentsia over the issue. With panchayat polls too round the corner, he has chosen to shift his stance. But much to his discomfort, his party continues to speak in a different voice on the issue.

Joining the ranks

This is yet another feather in the seasoned banker SANJAY NAYAR’S cap. The prestigious US-India Business Council (USIBC) has roped in Citi India’s Chief Executive Officer Nayar to its Board of Directors. Nayar, who joined Citibank way back in 1985 and has been the CEO of the bank since October 2002, will have the company of the likes of PepsiCo’s Chairman and CEO Indra K. Nooyi, President of Boeing India Ian Thomas and Chairman of Merrill Lynch International James Quigley at USIBC. On his appointment, Nayar recently said: “The experience gained at Citi has resulted in unique insights, which I think will benefit both the US and the Indian companies keen to expand their businesses.” By all accounts, USIBC can bank on his solid track record and vast experience.

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