India's hottest young executives
January 21, 2009
Normally, a gathering of headhunters is always electric. Top corporate moves are tracked and there’s a rush of anecdotes. But, early this January is not exactly a “normal” time as we gather in groups at our respective venues in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to debate a robust list of over 150 names of the young (40 years and under) movers and shakers of India Inc. We have been at it since 2002, so some obvious changes are not exactly going unnoticed: Straight off, the mood is not “upbeat” and there is a sense of quiet, which conveys the serious and no-nonsense attitude of corporate-India at work. Slowdown is up close and personal now.
Given the criticality, we went about this assessment with the best in the business— most of whom have been a source of constant help since the inception of the exercise: R. Suresh, MD of StantonChase International; Sonal Agarwal, CEO of Accord Group India; Hastha Krishnan, CEO of Ma Foi Global Search Services; and Purvi Sheth, VP of Shilputsi. Needless to say, their standard of selection has been getting sharper and meaner over the years. Every name was debated on not just the person’s record, but also merit in his/her current job. In some cases, we became mute spectators of the involved debate on how close a contender was to making it further depending on their positions in the organisation— and in one instance, even the proximity to the top boss.
Of course, we also landed with people in between hot jobs, had to remove some short-listed contenders as they had crossed our age limit and drop others because they were not based in India, which was material to the selection process.
Going by the dark clouds over the business landscape, the hotshots listed here have no time to celebrate. Businesses are cutting costs and holding back investments, customers are hanging on to their money and managers are racking their brains for strategies to beat the slowdown. But hotshots are, well, hotshots. Let’s see how they fare. The game has just begun.
|Hotshots 2009||Hotshots 2008|
|Alok Mittal (36)|
Managing Director, Canaan Partners
Anup Bagchi (38)
Executive Director, ICICI Securities
Anup Maheshwari (37)
Head of Equities & Corporate Strategy, DSP
BlackRock Investment Managers
Anurag Jain (38)
MD, Perot Systems, Asia-Pacific
Apurv Nagpal (38)
Managing Director, Saregama India
Kishore Gotety (37)
Country Head, RREEF
COO, Dun & Bradstreet Information Services
Milind Pant (38)
Chief Marketing Officer, Yum! Restaurants
Monica Tata (39)
Vice-President and Deputy General Manager,
Entertainment Networks, South Asia, for
Turner International India
Neeraj Bharadwaj (40)
Managing Director & Country Head, Apax
Neeraj Garg (37)
COO, Mass-market Branded Formulations
Business, Piramal Healthcare
Rajesh Jaggi (40)
Managing Director, Peninsula Land
Rajan Anandan (40)
Managing Director, Microsoft India
Rajesh Kamat (35)
Rohit Sharma (37)
COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment
Shailesh Chaturvedi (40)
CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India
Sharat Dhall (40)
Managing Director, TripAdvisor India
Shefali Goradia (40)
Partner, BMR Advisors
Siddharth Roy Kapur (34)
CEO, UTV Motion Pictures
T.R. Ramachandran (40)
CEO, Aviva India
Suresh Raju (37)
Executive Director, TVS Capital Funds
Vidhya Srinivasan (38)
Head of Strategy, Aditya Birla Retail
Vivek Gambhir (40)
Partner, Bain India
Vikram Ramakrishnan (35)
Principal Consultant, Booz & Company
Zubin Irani (37)
Managing Director, Carrier Airconditioning
& Refrigeration, India
(Names in alphabetical order)
| Abraham Joseph|
VP (R&D), Bajaj Auto
Director, Operations, Cisco Globalisation Office
CEO, Future Logistics & Value Fashion Retail
Country Head (India Operations)
Austrian Energy & Environment GmbH
COO and Country Head, Evalueserve
Member of Executive Council, Senior VP & Global Head
(Banking & Capital Markets), Infosys Technolgies
Executive Director, Future Capital Holdings
Partner 3i (India)
Girish A Wagh
Head (Small Car Project) Tata Motors
Country Manager (Online Business Services)
He’s now Head (Entertainment & Devices) Microsoft India
Country Manager (Financial Services Sector) IBM India
He’s now Head, Financial Services Sector, IBM India
Executive Director (HR), HUL
Head-Equity, Reliance Mutual Fund
Deputy CEO (Financial Services)
Aditya Birla Group
COO, Oberoi Constructions
Partner, McKinsey & Company
CEO, Perfetti Van Melle India
CEO, Consumer Products, Marico
MD, Google India
VP Enterprise Solutions, Americas, Wipro Technologies
He’s now VP, Business Technology Services, Wipro Technologies
VP (Marketing), GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
He’s now Executive VP, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
CFO, Patni Computer Systems
He’s now Chief Financial & Operations Officer
and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions
Tejpreet S Chopra
President & CEO, GE India
Executive Director, ICICI Bank
(Current positions as per information available with BT)
Alok Mittal/ 36 Managing Director, Canaan Partners
Been there: Co-founded JobsAhead.com, which became the largest jobs portal. Sold it to Monster
Done what: Led Canaan’s entry into India and has done six early-stage investments, including Bharatmatrimony.com
He’s everything that young Indians dream they can be and strive for: self-made and successful. “I come from a middle-class family, my father held a government job,” says Mittal, who led Canaan Partners’ entry into India. His current profile barely begins to describe his achievement, or his passion for entrepreneurship. He’s part of the few who contributed to the dotcom wave in early 2000 but managed to actually make a successful exit (with JobsAhead.com). He’s also a Founding Member of Indian Angel Network and is often seen counselling young, wannabe entrepreneurs. He’s a man to track, with years on his side and he has always managed to stand out—even as a student, having earned the President’s gold medal at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Anup Bagchi/ 38 Executive Director, ICICI Securities
Been there: Changed the way India traded in shares through ICICIdirect.com in 2000
Done what: Led the metamorphosis from online broking to partnering customers in setting & achieving their financial goal.
This man has a goal that is a mouthful: to bring about a Social Change among Indians in their Financial Planning. “Investable income in India is expected to rise four times to $1 trillion in 2012… India is just beginning its consumption journey,” says Bagchi. A shaker, not a “mover”, he started his career in 1992 with ICICI, was part of the ICICI Bank launch in 1993, and launched online broking under ICICIdirect in 2000. “ICICI is an exciting place to work, and from a career perspective I think it is one place that helps you grow with the company and bring in a lot of new perspectives.”
Anup Maheshwari/ 37 Head of Equities & Corporate Strategy, DSP BlackRock Investment Managers
Been there: Grown with the company since 1997
Done what: Involved in building a team of equity professionals who have contributed to the consistent performance over time
He has been with DSP BlackRock (formerly DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers) for 11 years, growing with it. Says Maheshwari: “I was lucky to be given responsibilities at a very young age and was fortunate to have a good team backing me.” Maheshwari has also managed an offshore fund. He sees his role in DSP’s corporate strategy team as important in the current challenging times. “Taking the right decisions today will have a meaningful impact on the long-run prospects of the company,” he says.
Anurag Jain/ 38 MD, Perot Systems, Asia-Pacific
Been there: Founded Vision Healthsource, later acquired by Perot
Done what: Spearheaded efforts to improve vocational skills and blue-collar work skills
Five years ago, when his company Vision Healthsource was acquired by Perot, he knew he would stay on at his new employers but didn’t believe it would last so long. “I must have been four-five rungs down the ladder, and I’ve always had this entrepreneurial bug, so I thought I would be doing something else by now,” Jain says. Instead, he has taken Perot Systems from the 350-odd people when they bought him out to being in charge of 9,000 people. “I love this place, and I’ve been essentially able to do my own things here.”
Apurv Nagpal/ 38/ Managing Director, Saregama India
Been there: Sri Lanka, Moscow, London, Amsterdam… then Bangalore. Stints at P&G, BAT, Reckitt Benckiser
Done what: As SAB Miller Marketing Director, shook up the beer market
A globetrotter: nearly 11 years across Moscow, London, Amsterdam. Then two years in Bangalore with SAB Miller. Next stop: Kolkata, as MD, Saregama India, the entertainment and music major. Why Saregama after selling personal care products and beer? Movies are one of his passions (he blogs pretty good reviews). After his MBA in 1993, Nagpal began with Procter & Gamble, did stints with BAT and Reckitt Benckiser abroad. Back in 2007 as Marketing Director of SAB Miller, he launched Indus Pride and revived Haywards 5000. Of Saregama, he says: “For me it’s about following my passion and seeing how I can make a career out of it, and how I can contribute to the sector.”
Kaushal Sampat/ 38 COO, Dun & Bradstreet Information Services
Been there: Multiple strategic and operational roles at various D&B strategic business units
Done what: The “start-up” man, Sampat was at the forefront of launching new products and training people
When Sampat joined D&B 10 years ago, the information services business was a nascent one and Sampat pioneered many products, innovating on business models and pricing for D&B’s foray into India. One early success was the alliance with Bombay Stock Exchange (1999-2004), to provide near real-time information on companies. Recently, India became one of the fastest growing markets outside of the US for Hoover’s, a provider of online business information and now part of the D&B stable. “Information services are now a bona fide business, though still a nascent one,” he says. Till his sons were born, work was life for Sampat. Now he is a major fitness and art enthusiast.
—Shalini S. Dagar
Kishore Gotety/ 37 Country Head, RREEF
Been there: Set up a specialised team in real estate and infrastructure
Done what: Targeting an investment portfolio of $1 billion by 2011-12
Gotety has been working in realty-related investments for over 15 years. In October 2007, he began heading the Indian operations for RREEF, Deutsche Bank’s alternative investment arm in real estate and infrastructure. It aims to build an investment portfolio of $1 billion by 2011-12. Gotety started out in 1993 at ICICI Securities armed with a Master’s in Finance. Moving around in the group, he was picked to spearhead ICICI’s first property fund in 2003. “I’ve been fortunate to have mentors who were interested in my success,” says Gotety. At his new job, the focus in 2009 will be on creating value in the existing portfolio, among other things. Gotety says: “Staying detached from a situation helps throw up a rational and objective approach to any problem.”
Milind Pant/ 38 Chief Marketing Officer, Yum! Restaurants (India)
Been there: Handled various businesses, functions across different countries for Unilever
Done what: Part of team that shored up Unilever’s ice-cream business (Wall’s) in India
His name rings a bell: Is he related to the illustrious Micky (Muktesh) Pant, Chief Marketing Officer (global) for Yum! Restaurants International? “He’s the ‘full-Pant,’ I am the ‘half-Pant,’” jokes Milind (both had worked at Hindustan Lever). (Half)-Pant has a large vision for the brand that he joined a year ago: “To have a billion people asking for Yum! in India,” he says. But what about the recession? “Last December, we had the best sales for Pizza Hut and KFC in India, and this January is turning out to be another high-hitter,” he says. His happiest achievement: he’s a hit with his children and their friends, who have a father serving up KFC.
Monica Tata/ 39 Vice President and Deputy General Manager, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, for Turner International India
Been there: Heading Turner’s suite of Entertainment Networks in India
Been there:Took a strategic approach, leveraged promotional licensing to grow the nontraditional advertiser base
Her first job: peddling a video news magazine, door-to-door, in 1990. True calling: ad-sales. A stint with Mid Day, then life changed as she joined STAR India in 1992. During her 12 years with STAR, she played “a pivotal role” in the launch of Star Gold. After leaving as Senior VP, she joined Turner International to head ad sales and raised the profile of its kids’ networks. Today, 30 per cent of the advertisers are nontraditional ones. As Turner’s Head of Entertainment Networks for South Asia, she will be rolling out new English and Hindi channels, and getting into movie production. “The excitement has just begun for me,” she says.
Neeraj Bharadwaj/ 40 Managing Director & Country Head, Apax Partners India
Been there: With Apax Partners since 2000 and in India since 2006; was with McKinsey from 1991-93 and again between 1995-1999
Done what: Brought Apax to India and concluded the first deal in India (Apollo Hospitals); wrote the business plan for ISB when with McKinsey
As the photo shoot begins, the Apax Partners office echoes with laughter. Some make faces at the boss, who joins in and asks his team (all of six) to come up with some clean jokes. No luck. “If I wasn’t a consultant, I might have been a comedian,” says Bharadwaj. An alumni of Wharton and Harvard Business School, he likes to tell jokes at work and is also a fanatical cricket fan. Bharadwaj counts among his achievements the setting up of the Apax office in India. “There were a lot of Indians working in Apax when we decided to come to India and it was easy,” he says. Apax plans to do only two deals a year with companies that have a market cap of $250 million to $5 billion.
Neeraj Garg/ 37 COO, Mass-market Branded Formulations Business, Piramal Healthcare
Been there: President, Sales and Marketing, Piramal Healthcare; Senior Associate with AT Kearney; Area Sales Manager at Hindustan Unilever
Done what: Set up the current business at Piramal Healthcare from scratch in three years; led the creation of a growth strategy in-house at Piramal in 2003; won the AT Kearney Global Intellectual Capital award for creating a methodology to evaluate retail business models
Garg insists he is as much a man of brass tacks as he is of vision. The business he heads is about providing quality medicine at reasonable prices in the interiors and Garg is inspired to an extent by C.K. Prahalad’s writings on the bottom of the pyramid. “I want to do something that becomes a gamechanger,” Garg says. His advice to youngsters: “Be focussed. But also go out and get your hands dirty, there is no substitute to learning by doing.”
Rajesh Jaggi/ 40 Managing Director, Peninsula Land
Been there: Led the Ashok Piramal Group’s mall management activities and headed Crossroads
Done what: Was appointed MD at 36; took Peninsula from being a Mumbai-based developer to a national player
At Peninsula, Jaggi helped complete transactions amounting to 6 m sq.ft. and is steering 33 m sq.ft. under development. This graduate from Babson Graduate School of Business, Boston, regrets just one thing—not staying back in the US to gain some international experience. Jaggi’s other passions are his kids, badminton and design. He feels the real estate industry is going through “a dynamic change and the impact will last for some time”. His goal is to “make Peninsula one of the most recognised and trusted brands”.
Rajan Anandan/ 40 Managing Director, Microsoft India
Been there: As Managing Director of Dell India, he grew the company from $250 million to $800 million in just two years
Done what: Aims to achieve the digitisation of India in his new role
Anandan is at Microsoft headquarters in the US when BT gets through to him, “I am constantly told how important India is to Microsoft over here.” The new MD of Microsoft India, appointed just four months ago, says: “I am a big believer in people and teams—when you put a great bunch of people together, great things will happen. We had a great team at Dell and that is what I want to do here.” At Microsoft India, which has gone through some turbulent times in the recent past, Anandan brings in a youthful verve.
Rajesh Kamat/ 35 CEO, Colors
Been there: Heading Colors and launching it as the 11th player in the market
Done what: Built Colors into the No. 2 general entertainment channel in six months
Mr Speed. From a management trainee at Coca-Cola in 1997 to a brand manager in three years. Joins STAR India in 2000. Leaves it as Senior Vice-President in 2005 to set up TV production company Endemol India and churn out hit productions like Bigg Boss and Fear Factor India. Next stop: CEO of Viacom18’s Colors channel. Asked to put it among the top three in its category within a year, he does so in six months. “We are only 40 GRPs away from STAR Plus (the No. 1),” he says. How did he do it? The four pillars of differentiated content, disruptive scheduling, distribution, good display and clutter-breaking marketing. What next? “I get obsessed with whatever I am doing currently. So, right now I am obsessed with Colors,” says Kamat.
Rohit Sharma/ 37 COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment
Been there: Established Internet gaming in India, and made Zapak the leader
Done what: Made Zapak synonymous with gaming in India
Zapak.com is synonymous with gaming and Rohit Sharma gets all the credit. “I was the first employee of Zapak, and was brought in not just to build and sustain the business but also its functions,” he says. It now has 250 professionals. Within three years, it has become the leader in gaming. Before Zapak.com, he worked with Cyber Media India as well as on The Times of India’s www.indiatimes.com, where he launched over 10 Internet vertical channels. Revenue targets have been scaled up for 2009, since Zapak broke even in the last quarter of 2008. It now aims to go to Brazil, Russia and Pakistan and will make its US debut as well.
Shailesh Chaturvedi/ 40 CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India
Been there: Brought in international brands like Esprit and Tommy Hilfiger to India
Done what: Developed and sustained a high quality, young talent pool
For over 17 years, Shailesh Chaturvedi has been scouting for international businesses that can be brought to India. At the Madura Group, where he worked for 13 years, he brought Esprit to India. He then moved to Hong Kong to set up Benetton’s business but returned soon. For two and half years now he has been with Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India as CEO. From setting up shop in India to meeting highly placed international standards in terms of operations, Chaturvedi has done it all. Now, he says, the focus is on people. “It is imperative that we as a team bond especially in such testing times… Additionally, we hope for commercial success in all our operations,” he says. There are now 40 Tommy Hilfiger stores in India and “smaller towns and cities have created an excitement in business”.
Sharat Dhall/ 40 Managing Director, TripAdvisor India
Been there: Set up Shakti, the then Hindustan Lever’s project for empowering rural women entrepreneurs. The project now covers 25,000 women in 300 districts and is acknowledged as a big success, both socially, as well as from a business perspective
Done what: Spent the last three years in online business; TripAdvisor India is now among the top five Indian travel sites
“Moving to Gurgaon helped me get in touch with sports again. I’m able to play squash and golf, which I couldn’t back in Levers,” says Dhall. But lack of sports was not the reason the Levers veteran quit in 2005. “I wanted a change… I wanted to work in something that wasn’t the brand-driven consumer goods industry,” he says. The online space beckoned and he got to be part of the team that launched the Indian operations of the world’s largest travel site, Expedia, in 2007. Dhall then set up TripAdvisor, a sister site, where travellers advise each other on destinations, airlines and hotels. “The concept of online social advice is amazing,” he says.
Shefali Goradia/ 40 Partner, BMR Advisors
Been there: Breaking the glass ceiling and heading the international tax practice for the law firm
Done what: Spent 14 years at a law firm practising international tax and joined BMR Advisors as partner four months back
In 1991, when India opened its market to foreign investments, Shefali Goradia was elated. She had just done her CA, topping it with a gold medal, and she chose to practise international tax, then at a nascent stage. She joined Nishith Desai Associates, working for 14 years and heading its international tax practice. “It’s been only four months since I’ve moved to BMR Advisors as partner,” she says. Now, she works with an accounting firm and her profile is more or less the same. “International tax has always been a passion and if someone pays good attention, it can be an innovative and creative field,” asserts Goradia.
Siddharth Roy Kapur/ 34/ CEO, UTV Motion Pictures
Been there: Part of the pre-launch team for STAR TV’s phenomenal hit Kaun Banega Crorepati
Done what: Awaiting the release of the movie Delhi 6
Last year was big for UTV Motion Pictures, and Siddharth Roy Kapur is all smiles. “We’ve dabbled in an entire range of genres.” UTV fielded historical dramas (Jodhaa Akbar), comedy (Welcome to Sajjanpur) and serious cinema (Mumbai Meri Jaan and A Wednesday). Starting off at 23 as a Brand Manager with Procter & Gamble’s Mumbai office, he moved to the STAR Group in 1998. “The turning point of my career was the launch of Kaun Banega Crorepati. We were a small, core team and to see it become the focal point for the entire nation swept us off our feet,” he recalls. Kapur saw a meeting with UTV’s Ronnie Screwvala in 2005 as his chance to take his passion for movies a step forward. Since then, his profile has changed from heading the marketing and corporate communication division across channels, to his current profile as CEO.
T.R. Ramachandran/ 40 CEO, Aviva India
Been there: 19 years at retail banking, consumer finance, credit cards
Done what: Was with Citibank for almost his entire career, launching products like credit cards
At Citi, Ram handled a variety of roles, but found credit cards the most satisfying and challenging. “It was a concept virtually unheard of at that time,” he recalls. Citi pioneered cobranding in India, and at one point, it had 23 per cent of the Indian credit card spend. The Aviva assignment, which he took on a few months ago, is similar in the need to build scale and educate the consumer. Spending almost half the month on the road, Ram is now working on a work-life balance. A start: learning to play the tabla.
—Shalini S. Dagar
Suresh Raju/ 37/ Executive Director, TVS Capital Funds
Been there: Helped Deutsche Bank in the US rebuild its tech practice.
Done what: Handling a fund aimed at helping SMEs upgrade
He loves challenges—or why would he chuck up a Deutsche Bank job in the US to return to India and help set up a venture fund from scratch? Raju handles a Rs 600-crore fund that addresses the needs of small and medium enterprises looking to scale up. The IITian, who picked up an MS from Ohio State University and an MBA from Chicago, says he saw the opportunities in 2007 and joined Gopal Srinivasan of the TVS group in setting up the venture. For someone who helped Deutsche Bank rebuild its technology investment banking practice on the US East Coast after the tech bubble collapse and 9/11, he is on familiar turf.
Vidhya Srinivasan/ 38 Head of Strategy, Aditya Birla Retail
Been there: As Vice President for Finance, at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, she integrated finances across 55 countries. Starting off at A.F. Ferguson, she later held senior roles at A.T. Kearney and Genpact
Done what: Guided strategy at Aditya Birla Retail through the growth phase—from 15 stores to 650
A workday is usually 12 hours or more. “I get bored if I am not working,” says Srinivasan. Having begun as a consultant, she is enjoying her functional role at Aditya Birla Retail, just as she did at Glenmark. At Aditya Birla Retail, she deals with strategy, consumer insights, loyalty and institutional sales. “We have to be seen providing value to the sector,” Vidhya says. She feels youngsters should begin with functional roles and then go on to consulting. “Investment banking and consulting are considered sexy. But functional roles give you a better grounding,” she says.
Vivek Gambhir/ 40 Partner, Bain India
Been there: Founding Member of Bain India, leads consumer goods and the technology, telecommunications and media practices
Done what: Was in the US for 19 years, before coming back as the first Bain employee in India
When he came back in 2006, Gambhir was a bit apprehensive. But the transition has been “surprisingly painless and extremely satisfying professionally.” And, why not? The India office has been the fastest start-up in Bain’s history. “We have exceeded our personal ambitions. We achieved our targets for the first five years in two years.” But Gambhir says the best is yet to happen: “The new generation of global MNCs will come from India.” And advising them along that route is clearly what keeps Gambhir going.
—Shalini S. Dagar
Vikram Ramakrishnan/ 35 Principal Consultant, Booz & Company
Been there: Joined the consultancy in 2001 and survived the downturn, despite being the junior-most in experience
Done what: Part of a team that is setting up offices in Mumbai and Delhi NCR
Born into a family of doctors, Ramakrishnan’s decision to pick up a doctor’s degree was natural. He practised in India and the UK before enrolling for a fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons, where he figured an MBA would be a stimulating line. “I enjoyed the studies immensely,” he says of his time at INSEAD, France. He joined Booz Allen Hamilton, now Booz & Company, in March 2001. “It was the worst time to have joined a consultancy because the market conditions were worsening. By the end of that year, the number of associates had shrunk to 30 from 70,” he says. Having survived the downturn, Ramakrishnan now heads the company’s learning and development division.
Zubin Irani/ 37 Managing Director, Carrier Airconditioning & Refrigeration, India
Been there: IIT Kanpur, then MIT followed by a stint with McKinsey in the US, Europe and India. Joined Carrier in early 2005 as marketing and strategy boss for Asia-Pacific, in Singapore, then moved to India
Done what: Has rebuilt a company that is growing over 20 per cent on average in the last three years
When he is not busy running Carrier, Irani likes to coach his fiveyear-old son’s soccer team and run. Having strengthened its distribution and dealer network and built an energy efficiency credo, Carrier is now working on better customer care. In addition to calling their call centre, customers can e-mail their problems to Irani himself. A leader, according to him, “delivers more than market share. For our company, this means good service, excellent quality and value to the customers in terms of energy efficiency.” Pssst!... Having J.J. Irani as his father did help when it came to getting leadership qualities. “To be a leader, you have to be a credible person,” he says.