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Destination China

July 18, 2007

Destination China

The prospect of parting company with his pets Bruno (the black Dachshund in the picture) and Sheru (the Dalmatian), is upsetting Chandramani Singh, 39, who's headed for Shenzhen, China, to take charge as director of Asia Pacific region for Chinese consumer electronics major TCL. Till now the CEO of Indian operations, Singh will report to TCL's global president. By all accounts, a significant move considering that Asian companies are known to be conservative about allowing outsiders to head their operations. A thoroughbred consumer durable professional, Singh asserts that Chinese players will call the shots in the coming years. China surely has captivated Singh, who admits to have surrendered to its sumptuous cuisine-especially the awesome soups.

Tasting the spirit

The master distiller from Scotland, Peter J. Warren, 59, came calling recently to launch 'Masterstroke Deluxe whisky' targeted at, what he calls "the new generation of Indian drinkers". Warren has had a taste of India way back in late 1960s and early 70s when he along with his Scottish wife Irene set up their home in Bangalore for close to seven years. Warren has been with Diageo for 35 years and post retirement, is its whisky consultant. He finds the Indian palate for whisky a lot more mature now than what it was in 1965. "The Indian drinker is much more aware and clearer in his choice than earlier." And the master distiller raises a toast to that.

The makeover man

The Kolkata-based Rs 1500-crore Emami group now has a new face. No, it's not shah rukh khan, but N. Venkat, Emami's new CEO. While SRK, who has just been roped in as the brand ambassador for Emami Fair & Handsome, has endorsed other brands for the group and is certainly not new to Emami; Venkat is. An alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad and former President of CavinKare, Venkat, 45, has his task cut out at Emami. While he believes that celebrity endorsements work wonders as far as product connect with middle class, rural and suburban consumers is concerned, the greater challenge before him is to turn Emami brands truly global. As the helmsman, his other priorities would be to build a team of professionals, create new product categories as well as brands. It's clearly time for a face-lift at Emami.

Sound manoeuvre

As career changes go, this one's got to be rather unusual. Dinesh Paliwal, 49, surprised many when he resigned as ABB's President, Global Markets and Technology, and member of the company's Group Executive Committee, to become the CEO of Harman International Industries. Harman, best known for its Harman Kardon, JBL and Infinity range of audio products, was recently acquired for $8 billion (Rs 32,800 crore) by private equity giants Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and GS Capital Partners. An alumnus of Roorkee University (now an IIT), Paliwal says, "The opportunity to lead a company with such high standards, worldwide reputation and growth potential is appealing." As Paliwal braces for the new assignment, he hopes to hit the right notes at Harman.

Power-packed performer

While Dinesh Paliwal begins his stint at Harman (see left piece), stepping into his shoes at ABB is Ravi Uppal, who is Head of the company's India business and South Asia region. Firmly ensconced in ABB with two stints spanning 20 years, Uppal, 54, now joins the executive committee of the group. A globe-trotter, Uppal has worked in diverse geographies, including West Asia and Sweden. To take on his new role, he is headed for Zurich, Switzerland, and will simultaneously continue to manage 10 countries in the South Asia region until the successors are chosen. Accustomed to challenges, Uppal had helped the auto giant Volvo to set the pace for its India operations before returning to ABB India. An IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, Uppal couldn't be reached for comment. However, Fred Kindle, Chief Executive, abb, is all praise for Uppal, describing him as "being instrumental in ABB's successful performance in India". Uppal, it seems, already has a headstart.

Staying Put, finally

Fifty nine-year-old Cuniversity graduate Pangal Jayendra Nayak, the man at the helm of third-largest private sector UTI Bank (now rechristened Axis Bank), has finally got a reprieve from the Mint Street. The bureaucrat-turned-banker will now hang on to his corner office for another two years as CMD. A media-shy Nayak, who joined the bank in January 2000, got embroiled in a controversy when RBI directed the bank to split the post of CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) as part of good corporate governance. Nayak then decided to leave the bank. After months of controversy, the RBI did a volte-face and appointed Nayak as the CMD. While his comeback is a big win for Nayak, he now has to groom a Managing Director before he hangs his boots in July 2009. It's time to play mentor.

- Contributed by Anand Adhikari, Ritwik Mukherjee, Shamni Pande, Rahul Sachitanand, and E. Kumar Sharma

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