Rendezvous with CEOs


CEO & MD, Bharti AXA General Insurance

CEO, Aditya Birla Group Retail

Senior GM and Lead, Bosch India, and

Chairperson & Managing Director, Biocon.

Celebrated leaders followed one after the other, leaving everyone completely absorbed, wanting for more. Such was the last week.

What is the future of general insurance, role of improved customer experience and data analytics in Indian insurance sector? How does a computer engineer end up becoming the CEO of a retail group? What drives 4 technology patent holder (and 4 more filed) to be diving out of planes or getting into blindfolded rafting? What is the economic and political outlook of India and its impact on the medical life sciences?

While these executives continued to calmly answer tough, tricky, and sometimes amusing questions, something clearly stood out – their ability to take seemingly trivial problems and turn them into holistic, much more vivid case studies with great aplomb.

With the new Indian government set to roll out the next budget soon, Dr. D. Subbarao – Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India has been the talk of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore for quite some time now. During his 90 minutes of discussions, various aspects of dilemmas in central banking – capital flows, exchange rates, account deficits, monitory & fiscal policies – were dissected, debated, agreed and disagreed upon. Balancing paradoxes, as any economist would agree, is an extremely difficult art and it was in full display during former governor’s address.

This week was different in many ways. A lot of myths busted. A lot of deceptively irrational realities rationalized. These top executives are mortals after all – just like you and I – who work really hard to earn their bread; they vociferously support their favorite football teams, crack jokes, love sports & music – just like you and I.

How hard is it to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company then? Frankly speaking, I don’t know. But I do know that at some point of time in their careers, they were just like how most of us have been. However, do I have a personal North Star? Do I have a vision? Am I willing to defy conventions? Am I willing to tread on global walkabouts alone? Am I prepared to be proven wrong…multiple times? I guess that’s what makes the difference in the end.

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