17 Aug 2016 22:26 IST

'Prepare to learn the hard way by getting on the Shopfloor' 

Key ingredients for success are ambition, self-belief and trust in the team, says Gunjan Srivastava

BSH Household Appliances, a part of Germany’s diversified Bosch group, with a global turnover of €12.6 billion in 2015, has big plans in India — it recently shored up its R&D here to drive innovation for products that will be relevant to the local market. Leading the push is  Gunjan Srivastava, who joined as MD & CEO of BSH Appliances Manufacturing in June 2014. Srivastava joined the German major, riding on a euphoric innings at Sennheiser Electronics India where, under his leadership, the company won the best-performing subsidiary award. Srivastava, who also worked nine years at Philips Electronics, looks back on his MBA days and how they helped him in corporate life. Here’s what he says:

Where and when did you get your basic degree and how did you crack the IIM entrance? Which year did you do your MBA, and who are your noteworthy peers, if any?

I got my basic engineering degree from IIT BHU (Varanasi) in BTech, mechanical engineering. I did my MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and passed out in the 1992 batch. My aim to clear the IIM entrance exams was to focus on my strengths and take it forward from there. My noteworthy peers are Deep Kalra (CEO at Makemytrip) at IIM Ahmedabad, and Nikesh Arora (former President & CEO at SoftBank Corp) at IIT BHU.

How has your MBA helped you in your corporate life?

My MBA has played a critical role in building my business acumen as well as giving me a deeper understanding of organisations and organisational behaviour, along with interpersonal dynamics. I also got a lot of insights on marketing and consumer behaviour.

If you had to re-visit your MBA what would you have liked to see as part of your course?  

Honestly, if I had to revisit my MBA I would be very keen on having more internship opportunities and industry experience in terms of working with companies on various projects. This would have equipped me greater knowledge and experience across various sectors. As for the curriculum, a module on digital transformation would have been relevant, given how the world is today moving digitally.

Have you revisited your alma mater to teach? How do you find things between then and now?

I have revisited my alma mater, not in a teaching capacity but to recruit in my previous companies. There has been a considerable change from the time I was studying there.  For example, dorms used to be more of a place where everyone socialised and spent time together but now students spend most of the time in their rooms and there is hardly any socialisation.

What have been the chief ingredients in your success, your road to the top?

The key ingredients for success would be ambition and self-belief, trust and belief in the team, commitment to hard work and a sharp business sense.

What have been your best and worst moments?

My best moments include; the introduction of the tube shave gel category in India (Gillette) and winning the best performing subsidiary of Sennheiser in the world in the year 2013. The worst was when we lost the Phillips DVD players leadership to LG.

What would be your advice to young MBAs who are joining the corporate sector?

The most important advice that I can give to MBAs would be ‘Prepare to learn the hard way by being on the shopfloor and in the market, and not to worry about the competitors’

Are you happy with the way the MBA is structured / taught today?

Yes I am, as more emphasis is being given to internships and on the job projects. Also, the way current case studies are referred and taught acts as a bridge between classroom learning and corporate boardroom situations.

What would you advise young MBA students to read?

Discover your strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Sally Byrne Woodbridge, and From good to great by Jim Collins.

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