Secret Diary Of A CEO 2017

“It’s important to keep learning without altering your inherent personality”

Secret Diary Of Varun Berry Part-2

Photographs by Soumik Kar

trying times in vietnam

All lessons I learnt during my early days were building blocks in my career. From Gujarat they took me back to Delhi where I was head of sales. It was a staff role that I didn’t enjoy at all. I don’t think I am made for staff roles but I put my best into it. Suman was observing me and realised that I was not best utilised there. So, they sent me to the south, which was a fairly large market at that point of time.

After two and a half years in the South, I was sent to Vietnam. The economy was just about opening up as the international embargo had been lifted. Pepsico had this Vietnamese guy called Try who was the head of the bottling division. But he did not know the business and was put under my training when I was in the south. It was difficult training Try because he was a very demanding guy who didn’t want to dirty his hands. But we did what we could to give him as much knowledge as required, but people knew that he wouldn’t be able to run the business on his own. 

So, PepsiCo told Try that they will have to send a guy whom he would shadow for a few years after which he could head the business. He agreed and suggested that I be sent to Vietnam since he had trained under me.

Micky yong

For around two and a half years, I was sorting out issues. He was a local guy with a huge ego. I was supposed to carry him along and at the same time implement a plan. Since he didn’t understand the business as well as I did, it got a little difficult and frustrating at times. But I recruited two really good guys, one from PepsiCo India and the other from Coca-Cola. When they were in place, I was confident that Try would be able to manage the business well. Without them it would have been very difficult for him. But the move from Vietnam to Philippines was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

The business in Philippines was on a boil. Pepsi had done a promotion, dropping prices to 5 pesos as volumes had been going down for some time. The bottler, Micky Yong, couldn’t buy glass because the


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