June 11, 2008
On the moveThis is a homecoming of sorts. Neelam Dhawan, 48, has quit as Managing Director, Microsoft India, to head Hewlett-Packard in India. But there is more than meets the eye here, despite a company issued release making all the right noises. “Being a part of the leadership team at Microsoft India has been one of the most rewarding roles of my professional life and the decision to leave was a difficult one to make,” Dhawan was quoted as saying. However, the popular (unofficial) blog ‘Mini Microsoft’ had a damning post on Microsoft India which stated Dhawan was leaving the company— 10 days before the announcement happened. Despite the controversy, Dhawan will have her hands full at HP trying to integrate EDS operations into HP’s services business. For the IT veteran, it will be a return to the place where she made her name—before joining Microsoft India, Dhawan was a Vice-President at HP India.
Calling it a day‘Go Vodafone’ is the perk-up phrase Arun Sarin, 53, uses to end his monthly memos to Vodafone employees. As the India-born CEO prepares to bid adieu to the world’s largest mobile phone company, his efforts to motivate the Vodafone team seem to have had the desired effect. During his five-year stint, the company returned to profitability with net profits of $13.2 billion (Rs 56,760 crore) for the year ending March 31, 2008. Sarin’s focus on emerging markets like India, Turkey and Romania ensured that the company’s global customer base doubled on his watch from 120 million to 260 million. That also sounds like an exercise in silencing his critics (at the company’s AGM in 2006, over 10 per cent shareholders wanted his exit). No wonder then, Sarin continues to beam his broad smile because he’s leaving—as one British newspaper said —“while at the top of his game”.
Gardener writer Some months ago, Subroto Bagchi, 50, the founder of Bangalore-based IT services company, MindTree Consulting, created waves when he stepped away from an operational role at the firm and re-assigned himself a more strategic role as its ‘gardener’. While this new quirky role saw him turn a mentor, coaching MindTree’s top 100 young leaders and building business readiness, Bagchi is all set to kick off sales of his second book Go Kiss the World (poignantly, the last words of his mother) in mid-June, published by Penguin. Bagchi is already a published author (with The High Performance Entrepreneur in 2006) and his second book is an autobiographical look at his rise from rustic Orissa to co-founding MindTree in 1999. “This book is targeted at India’s young professionals and is a collection of life’s lessons, which I have picked up from my own challenging upbringing,” he says. After all, tending young minds comes naturally to him.
In expansion modeA good teacher must know the rules; A good pupil, the exceptions. IIM-A alumnus Shantanu Prakash, Managing Director, Educomp Solutions, seems to have understood both. An entrepreneur who created a Rs 6,048-crore firm (market value), from scratch, Prakash, 42, has now entered into two 50:50 JVs with the Singapore-based Raffles Education, Asia-Pacific’s largest private education group. The rationale? “The India JV will bring the entire suite of Raffles’ job-oriented courses to the country, thus providing Educomp’s large student population with meaningful alternatives when they graduate from high school. With Rs 1 lakh in capital and two employees in 1994, Educomp has come a long way. It has over 4,000 professionals, serving over six million learners and educators across India, USA and Singapore. Prakash, by all means, is on the right course.
Abrupt departure Just two months after announcing plans to launch low-cost notebooks to increase its share in the fast-growing Indian market and finally jumping onto the retail bandwagon, Rajan Anandan, 39, Country Head for computer maker Dell India, has quit. This is Dell’s second India head to have quit after Romi Malhotra, his predecessor, left in 2006. While Malhotra’s exit was ascribed to Dell’s faltering fortunes, both in India and globally, Anandan’s exit appears to be more unexpected. Anandan has been at the centre of a significant revival for Dell India, with market share up to around 7-8 per cent from around 3-4 per cent in the fast-growing notebooks segment, and with Dell set to expand its manufacturing IT and back office numbers in India. “It has been a remarkable few years here at Dell, and I am going to miss it all as I move on to another chapter in my life,” Anandan said in a statement. On how he scripts his new move, watch this space.
Role reversal After regulating India’s capital market for three years, 61-year-old Meleveetil Damodaran is on the other side of the fence now. The former chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), UTI Mutual Fund and IDBI has joined the Netherlands-based ING Group as a chief representative and advisor in India. In the new role, he will be guiding the group in expanding its three businesses— banking, insurance and investment business. Considering his love-hate relationship with media, it’s interesting that he has also become an honorary ombudsman for Financial Chronicle, a new business paper launched in March. To his credit, he did bring about changes in the IPO process and introduced new capital market products. Post his retirement from SEBI, it was expected that he will renew his interest in practising law, but he dismisses it as a rumour. And what about his book on football that he has been planning to write since his UTI days? “It’s work in progress,” he says.
Contributed by Kpil Bajaj, Kushan Mitra, Rachna Monga, Rahul Sachitanand and Manu Kaushik