Secret Diary Of A CEO 2017

"Collaborative leadership works better than being hierarchical"

Secret Diary of Ravi Uppal Part-3

Photograph by Vishal Koul

I could not believe the way we galloped: in five years, ABB India grew 10x — from Rs.800 crore to Rs.8,000 crore and the market cap grew from Rs.700 crore to Rs.42,000 crore. We tried so many new experiments. We made the offices cabin-less, an idea I picked up from Sweden. Anybody could walk up to anyone; I sat in the hall with everyone else. It was informal and the collective energy galvanised everyone into action. 

phew! 10x in five yearI so vividy recall the day Shuvro Chakraborthy came to me, completely lost, saying he didn’t know what to do because there were very few takers for his products in India. He was running the process analytics business of Taylor Instrument, which was later acquired by ABB. I asked, “Shuvro, how much faith do you have in the promise of the business?” He said he could grow the business 3x in two years provided he could make some investments. Chakraborthy was extremely knowledgeable, very softspoken, I saw a spark in him and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll get all the support you need.” He had a unit in Faridabad and we made an investment of Rs.10 crore and he was such a roaring success over the next two years. He signed on all the big clients — Engineers India, Reliance, GAIL. Ditto for Arvind Vasu; he made ABB India the biggest robotics supplier in the country.

It was a wonderful team again — K Rajagopal, P C Rajiv, Inder Sadhu, and so many more remarkable people. My 3S philosophy worked wonders — the spirit to win, systems to support, and speed. I recall telling the team that we had entered the digital age, in which there is no consolation prize for the runner-up — either you get it or lose it all.

royal oreder of the solar starWhen I became Asia-Pacific head for ABB Group, I was able to take several of these attributes with me. And later again as the head of global markets, where I had eight regional presidents reporting to me from 75 countries. That was such an interesting experience — to work with diverse nationalities, idiosyncrasies and value systems; you mature a lot, you start to live in a system where people have differ


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