Business Today's hottest young executives neither burn out nor do they fade away. They just keep shining on—at least most of them do. Like R. Balakrishnan, aka Balki, who featured in our 2004 list at age 40. Or Santrupt Misra, who vaulted in at age 37 in 2002. Balki, Executive Creative Director of Lowe six years ago, has gone on to become Chairman of the agency, and also holds the title of Chief Creative Officer (along the way he also found time to make hit films Paa and Cheeni Kum).
Misra, Director, Corporate HR, at the Aditya Birla Group in 2002, has since gone on to become a Director on the board of Aditya Birla Management Corporation, the apex decision-making body of the group. He also heads its global carbon black operations besides being on the board of Aditya Birla Science & Technology Co., which does R&D for the group.
Such trail-blazing career paths are doubtless inspirational stories for those striving for the big cheese. But then again, designations, added responsibilities, fatter pay-packets and column centimeter of media coverage aren't the only barometers of success. Cut to Nachiket Mor, famously known as one of those tipped to succeed K.V. Kamath as MD & CEO at ICICI. Instead, Mor today is far away from the hustle of corporate and retail banking: he heads the ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth. Mor clearly has moved away from the corporate highlife to blaze his own trail, quietly and off the beaten track.
BT HYE IN: 2004, as Executive Creative Director/ Lowe
NOW: Chairman & Chief Creative Officer/ Lowe
HIS ADVICE: "I believe that focus, ability etc. are all hygiene factors. It is finally a lot of luck involved in success…I still don't have an idea how and why the right idea comes, so it is about having the patience and resilience to hang in there till you get lucky."
BT HYE IN: 2004, as National Creative Director/McCann
NOW: Executive Chairman/ McCann Worldgroup India and Executive Creative Director for Asia-Pacific and the worldwide board member of the group.
HIS ADVICE: "Achievers never take themselves too seriously, they take their job and the moment seriously and are constantly practising their craft. They are constant learners and are stupid enough sometimes to not know that things can't work—and they do!"
BT HYE IN: 2002, as Director, Corporate HR/Aditya Birla Group
NOW: CEO of Carbon Black, & Director, HR/Aditya Birla Group
HIS ADVICE: "Have a keen interest in things that may not have any relevance to your immediate business. Gain knowledge about different aspects of business; put oneself behind people and harness the power that various people have in the organisation."
BT HYE IN: 2004, as Country Head—Operations and Service Delivery/ICICI Bank
NOW: MD & CEO/ICICI Securities
HER ADVICE: "Seek out difficult assignments. This is where you can add maximum value. Have the stomach to do them differently. More of the same never solved a problem. Create systems and a strong second line so that there is no hesitation to let you move on."
BT HYE IN: 2006, as CEO/Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
NOW: CEO, India, Middle East & North Africa/Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance
HIS ADVICE: "In my view, the qualities that are required in a person for the top job are a sense of ownership, an ability to learn beyond the area of responsibility and also have an ability to take risks. Good leaders are usually equipped with these traits."