R Gopalakrishnan, businessman turned management guru, has co-authored three books—featuring the extraordinary leadership of Deepak Parekh (HDFC Group chairman), Harsh Mariwala (founder Marico Group) and Uday Kotak (of Kotak Mahindra Bank)—with Professor Vidyut Lata Dhir, Professor M Suresh Rao and Professor Tulsi Jayakumar – all faculty members of S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR).
Mr Gopakrishnan said that the books are neither hagiographies nor drab research papers. Instead, these books attempt to derive a theory of institution building from the personal mindset, behaviour and action of leaders who have pursued longevity and reputation and not just sales and margins.
The books on these Indian business institutions and their builders were released on March 26 in a virtual ceremony by All India Management Association (AIMA). Discussing the lessons of the research, Gopalakrishnan said that the MBA that really matters to institution building is Mindset, Behaviour and Action. He gave the example of Mr Harsh Mariwala, the founder of Marico, who did not have an MBA but learned through sheer curiosity to turn a generic coconut oil business into a formidable FMCG company. “I have seen only Harsh Mariwala and Azim Premji among the CEOs with a pad and pen at every conference,” he shared.
Mr P Dwarkanath, Director, former chairman, GSK Consumer Healthcare Ltd, moderated the session and Ms Rekha Sethi, Director General, AIMA anchored it. Over 500 business leaders, executives and academics attended the release, through the AIMA platform and also through Face Book and YouTube where it was streamed live
Explaining the choice of the companies for research, Ms Tulsi Jayakumar, Professor, SPJIMR and co-author of the book on Kotak Mahindra Bank, said that these companies enjoy the status of institutions because of their durability and reputation. Albeit, the choice was limited to the Generation L companies, those that flourished after the economic liberalization in the country. Importantly, she pointed out, their leaders were shapers with transformative mindset, behaviour and actions.
Dr Lata Dhir, Professor, SPJIMR, and co-author of the book on HDFC Group and Mr Deepak Parekh, pointed out that trust in the corporate name is the key to market acceptance in new businesses without prior track record. She also counted humility and empathy of the leader as a key attribute of the institution builders.
“The most common feature of India’s business institution builders has been people relations, according to the authors.”
Ms Jayakumar shared the story of how Mr Uday Kotak opened a London office to retain his long-term colleague Ms Falguni Nayar, as she and her banker husband Sanjay Nayar moved to London. He opened the US office as the Nayars moved to the US. Eventually, Falguni Nayar quit to start Nykaa, the online cosmetics retailer. Dr Dhir talked about Mr Parekh personally delivering sandwiches to his colleague while he worked late. Mr R Gopalakrishnan narrated the story of Mr Mariwala risking his family’s wrath and advancing his own retirement to retain the services of Mr Saugata Gupta, who had an offer from another company for the position of CEO.