General Counsel, United Phosphorus
GOAL IN LIFE: Lead a meaningful life with a purpose of positively impacting organisations I work for and people I interact with.
BEST LEADERSHIP LESSON: Set goals in life and work hard to achieve them.
Rohit Kumar admires Charles Thomas Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, more than the company's billionaire CEO and legendary investor Warren Buffett. One reason is Munger's legal background. The second is that Kumar - inspired by Munger, who feels that while working with a law firm, you don't control your time, but the clients do - built a career as a corporate lawyer at United Phosphorus. Kumar's other role model is Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US. Kumar feels Franklin lived a contented life and was useful to the people around him.
An avid reader and a nature lover, Kumar opted for the legal career as a natural choice since his father, Rabindra Prasad, practices at the Patna High Court. After graduating from Symbiosis Law School in Pune in 2002, Kumar took up his first job in Jaipur to get experience of the court room. Soon, however, his boss told him to join academics saying he was not good enough to be a lawyer.
He took it with a pinch of salt. Shortly thereafter, in 2004, he found a job in Delhi with J. Sagar Associates where he was mentored by the law firm's founder Jyoti Sagar. After two and a half years, Kumar scouted for jobs outside India. In one of his backpacking trips to Australia, he found a job at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney. While working with Freehills, Kumar had been selected for Asialink Leaders Program 2009 by the University of Melbourne. Kumar says he learned the importance of understanding the commercial aspects and processes during his stint at Freehill. "Their emphasis on perfection and time utilisation are the other lessons I learnt."
Kumar says his varied experience has helped him standardise the processes at United Phosphorus, where he will complete five years in July. R.D. Shroff, Chairman and Managing Director, and Rajendra Darak, Group CFO are his mentors at United Phosphorus. "An in-house job is different from legal firms. Here the scope for engagement with legal subjects will be broader," says Kumar, who devotes most of his time outside office to his family that includes wife Neha and their 15-month-old daughter, Milonee.