Sibichen K Mathew
C.P Shrimali, son of Damodar Lal Srimali was in Class 6. The chubby boy beamed with joy when his classmate distributed fountain pen to all his close friends on his birthday. He proudly attached the pen to his pocket and ran to the house immediately after the school. He wanted to show the pen to his siblings. The siblings were happy to see Shrimali’s new pen and they took turns to see it. In the night, when the father returned from work after writing the accounts for about seven shops from 7am to 9.30pm, he spotted a new pen with Shrimali.
He asked gently: “Dear son, I see a new pen with you. A very beautiful one. Where did you get it?”
Shrimali said: ‘Raj was celebrating his birthday today and he gave a pen to each of his close friends as a gift.’
“You know father, he is the son of Sankarji who owns the big grocery shop.”
“No, son, you should return this pen. You are not supposed to take such expensive gifts’
Shrimali retorted: ‘No, I won’t. I like this pen so much’
Father said: “Son, we are Brahmins. Our tradition is of giving to others, not of receiving.”
“But father, how can I return it, when he has given it to me with a lot of affection?” He asked.
“No son, we can’t afford to reciprocate this at the time of your birthday. You know, we are not affluent. With the meagre income that I get, working as the village accountant and from the account work I do for a few shops in the morning and evenings, I manage to maintain this family of 10. As God is kind enough, we have survived so far without borrowing anything from anyone.”
Damodar Lal Srimali was originally from the Sema Village in Nathurdwera. They relocated to Udaipur a few years back. He was an autocrat at home. But everyone respected him for the values he upheld and practiced. He was a daily visitor at the Jagadish Temple in the village. He used to say that God speaks to him whenever he goes to the temple and he gets all guidance from the Almighty.
Shrimali did not say anything. He didn’t want to return that pen to Raj. He knew that it would hurt him. He hid the pen on the top of a wooden almirah.
But, his father was not a person who would forget to monitor compliance to his instructions. The very next night, he asked: ‘Son, hope you have returned the pen to Raj’
He couldn’t lie to his father. He said, he didn’t.
Father became slightly angry and asked him to return the pen the next day. Shrimali kept quiet. Next day morning, father reminded him about returning the pen.
That night, as soon as he came from his work, he enquired with Shrimali whether he had returned the pen. He said, no.
Father was furious. He shouted: ‘Why didn’t you?’
He said: “I like that pen. I won’t”
Father said: “You have to. This is your father’s order. You don’t want to obey?’
“Yes…But I can’t return the pen. I want to keep it”
“No way! I want that pen to be returned today. Will you return?”
Shrimali did not answer.
“It is to you I am asking. Take the pen from wherever you have hidden it. Give it back today itself”
Shrimali did not relent. Father did not like his stubborn expression. He rushed to him and squeezed his ears for about 5 seconds. Seeing his cool response, father gave two slaps on his cheeks.
“Bring the pen”. He shouted.
Shrimali went inside and brought the pen, tears flowing on his cheeks. Father snatched the pen instantly and said: “So far you were never disobedient to me. But this pen brought disobedience and strife in this family”
He ran out and threw it into the deep pond.
Shrimali learned his first lesson in his life.
Shrimali has experienced the pains of hunger during his childhood. For outsiders, the aristocratic Brahmin family was very rich and prosperous. But the ten members struggled to have their full meals regularly. Shrimali and his brothers wished for a day when they would get sufficient meals to fill their stomachs. New shirts were made out of clothe purchased from the ration shop and was given only to the eldest. Each one had to pass them to the younger ones when the dresses no longer fit them.
Shrimali was an unusual child. He topped in all classes in School and once got double promotion. He was fond of reading the books of the higher classes. His eldest brother who got a job in a mining firm took him along to another village. The new school gave him fresh opportunities and his passion of acquiring knowledge continued. He became an avid reader of whatever books he saw around.
Family moved to a house in Udaipur city, as two elder sons in the family started earning and the father got promoted as a Tahsildar. However, there was no power connection in that house. Shrimali used to go to the open terrace with his quilt and books to read under the street light which was placed on the side of the road. Shrimali secured the 62nd position in the State Board Examination for class 11.
First step in entrepreneurship at age 16
Shrimali read more books than his peers. But the money given by his brother was grossly insufficient to satisfy his hunger for knowledge. In fact, he could not buy the text books and reference books for the course he was pursuing. He pondered how to manage funds for buying books and came up with this unique idea. He started taking tuitions for the students of his class and also for a few of his seniors. Instead of any fee, he asked them to buy him books. Shrimali, in turn, studied those books and prepared notes and circulated to all students. They were too happy to get such simplified notes without any trouble of reading the text books and reference books. For Shrimali, that was the first experiment in entrepreneurship. All his students passed with very high marks, and he topped the batch. And that year he did not take any penny from his home for buying books.
Using every opportunity: Self-managed Internship!
Shrimali was very convinced that one should use every opportunity in order to excel. Therefore, even at the age of 16, he took concrete steps to gain practical knowledge from whatever sources available. His eldest brother was working for a mining firm. He used this opportunity to go into the forest and mining areas and he closely studied how mining business is done. Another brother was working in Hindustan Zinc Ltd. He went to the factory and observed how the machineries were put into operation. At a time when summer placements and internships were not part of the curriculum of even post graduate courses, he used his holidays productively by visiting factories and business houses on his own.
Identifying the passionate interest
Even when he was pursuing the graduation in science, he started thinking seriously about the career path he should take after the graduation. When he found that one of his classmates’ father was a professor, he immediately sought an appointment with him. The first thing he noted in the professor’s room was the huge number books he possessed. The professor took an instant liking for him. He discussed with him the areas he was interested, his career aspirations, his strengths and his limitations. He shared his two career passions with the professor.
“I want to become a successful businessman. I also have a passion for teaching. But I am confused. What should be my career path?”
The professor found it to be a difficult question. But after his long conversation with Srimali and after hearing about his experience and background, he became clear about the potential of the young man. He found Shrimali to have all skills necessary for a successful entrepreneur. He was innovative, he was not averse to taking risks, he had a talent to tap resources, he had business acumen, and he could perform in spite of any adversity.
He said: “You like to do business. You also want to teach. I can suggest only one area where you can pursue both the passion!”
That positive response kindled the spirit within Shrimali and he wanted a quick answer about the area where he could follow both his dreams.
Professor said, “The ideal course for you is Business Management. You join for MCom (Business Administration). That is the ideal academic and professional career for you!”
Shrimali was too happy to hear that.
Professor continued: “Indian economy is growing at a faster pace. India has the potential to become an important player in the global arena in the coming decades. The country requires professional managers and trained entrepreneurs.”
Shrimali joined Udaipur University for M Com in Business Administration. Being a topper in the first year he could contest for the Board of Management and got elected. (Only toppers of the courses had the right to vote and contest for the posts in the University Boards that time.) His academic excellence and leadership qualities were noticed by the professors and the Vice Chancellor. He passed the final examination with 72% marks and was the university topper. Immediately after that he was offered the post of a temporary lecturer with a pay of Rs 680/-
Entering mining business at the age of 21
“Shrimali, now that you have finished your course in Business Administration with first rank, it is better for you to start some business rather than working as a lecturer with meagre salary” Said the third brother to him.
First two brothers, who were by that time comfortably well-placed in life, agreed to pledge their wives’ jewellery to raise the capital for the business. They pledged the jewellery with the local pawn broker and raised a sum of Rs 37,000/-. The third brother borrowed the above amount and gave to Shrimali to do business.
Shrimali was only 21 at that time. He ventured into the mining area and the adjoining forests to conduct a pilot study of the business. After two months of study he was convinced about the potential of this business. He applied for a mining licence. And this was his first experience of the corruption in government and lower level bureaucracy.
Next 4 months was a disaster for him. Almost every other day he went to the mining department to enquire about the lease sanction. There were repeated objections on silly matters: ‘File is missing’, ‘File is with higher-ups’, ‘Signature is not there’, ‘Columns are not filled’, ‘Attestation is not there’, ‘Enclosures are incomplete’, ‘Clearance from some other department is missing’ etc. By that time he had spent Rs 15000/- from his capital of Rs 37,000/- for meeting various expenditure, and still he had not got the sanction.
Shrimali became thoroughly depressed. Add to this, his family members started blaming him.
His father made rude remarks: “Did you get your gold medal by cheating in examinations? What sort of Management you have studied? You are really an inefficient fellow. You have silly excuses. Even after 4 months you could not obtain a mining licence. Every day you go to the mining department and come back with nothing.”
Brothers and Sisters-in-law were also worried over the jewellery pledged by them to give loan to him. Interest was mounting and they would even lose the entire jewellery to the pawn broker. According to them, Shrimali had already wasted half the amount. Everyone projected Shrimali as an utter failure.
Shrimali had not taken any food the entire day as he was waiting all along in the mining department pursuing his application. He was totally exhausted by the time he reached home. Hearing the angry comments of father and the cold response from all others at home, he went inside and wept profusely.
He asked himself. ‘Am I a failure? What happened to all my dreams to become a successful businessman? Am I such an inefficient fellow? I followed all the procedures properly and submitted the application for marble mining lease. What can I do if those scoundrels want to somehow reject my application? What shall I do now? I lost the offer for lecturer post. Will they give me the job if I go back?’
At that time, Shrimali’s second brother came inside the room. He sat near Shrimali and consoled him by keeping his hand on his shoulders and said.
‘Shrimali, get up and have roti. You don’t worry. You will get a mining lease. Don’t get upset over father’s remarks. He was just angry seeing the trouble you were taking in the last four months’
Second brother was closely associated with mining business by virtue of his current job.
He said: “Shrimali, let me tell you one thing very clearly. ‘Studying’ business and ‘doing’ business are two different things. For doing business there is a different way. You must find a teacher! “
He said: “Shrimali, let me tell you one thing very clearly. ‘Studying’ business and ‘doing’ business are two different things. For doing business there is a different way. You must find a teacher! “
Shrimali couldn’t understand what the brother was suggesting.
Brother continued: ‘There is a different type of ‘value system’ in the mining department. For that you need to get the right guidance. I can’t give you that guidance. Go to that elderly babu in the mining department. Catch hold of him. Seek an appointment with him to meet him at his residence’.
Next day, Shrimali got up at 5 am. Before anybody woke up, he went out of the house. He reached much earlier before the mining department office is opened. He waited in the veranda for hours for the arrival of that elderly babu. His name was Mehta. He was the dealing clerk in the Mining Department.
“Mehta ji, I need your help!” Shrimali told the clerk.
“What son, what can I do for you?’ He asked an irrelevant question. He used to interact with Shrimali almost every day in the last four months and knew very well his problem.
“I would like to come to your house and discuss the matter, Mehta ji” Shrimali told.
Application without a paper weight flies away!
Shrimali reached Mehta’s house at the right time. Mehta was eagerly waiting for the arrival of young man. He asked his wife to serve tea for Shrimali and him.
Shrimali was not in a mood to politely request for guidance. Instead an emotional outburst followed.
He almost cried: “Mehtaji, have I committed any mistake in my application? How many times I approached you and other staff in Mining Department for sanction. Even today, there is no response from anyone. Now they say my file is lost! What I have done to you for punishing me like this?”
He was not perturbed by his anger.
He calmly said: ‘’ Beta, you are a very educated person. Why are you asking such a question?”
That clerk, whom Shrimali had doubts whether he has cleared at least his 10th grade examination, taught the first lesson in business management to Shrimali.
“One person can’t be an expert in everything. He needs to know what his expertise is. He should leave other things to someone else”
Shrimali couldn’t follow what he said.
He asked: “You mean to say that I am unfit to do any business?’
“I do not wish to answer that question now. Let me make it clear to you. You need to know one important fact. Not only you, but all businessmen ought to know this. Your file would fly away if there is no paper weight on that”
Shrimali still couldn’t understand. ‘Was my father right? What sort of post graduate business management degree I got? All those gold medals worthless?’ He asked himself.
Shrimali was puzzled and Mehta was enjoying like a teacher who had given a tough problem to his students to work out.
After half an hour, realizing that Shrimali couldn’t understand what he meant, Mehta tried to explain. But it was again a clue for Shrimali to pick up.
“We have a target every month. Money has to go up to the Minister. Each engineer has a target. Howsoever honest one is, even he has to collect money from his contractors to give to higher officials and politicians.
Shrimali couldn’t say anything. He understood what Mehta was referring to.
Mehta continued in a little hard tone: ‘If one does not have enough money, he should not venture into business. One should engage in activity according to his capacity”
He asked his wife to serve one more cup of tea. But Shrimali said, “No, give me a glass of water instead”. He was feeling very warm, in that cold weather.
Mehta started operationalizing his concept. “If you want the licence and engage in the mining business smoothly, you need to pay Rs 5000 per month.”
‘What?” Shrimali almost shouted.
‘What?” Shrimali almost shouted.
“Yes, you can pay me Rs 5000 every month and rest I will take care. You can make good profits in the business!”
“Are you asking for bribe? I will never pay!” Shrimali retorted.
“No, who asked you to pay bribe? You can call it a fee. This is only a fee that you pay for smooth running of your mining operation”
Shrimali thought. The salary offered to him for the post of lecturer was only Rs 680/-. Here he is talking of giving a fee of Rs 5000 to a dealing clerk every month!
Mehta explained. “In any business, one has to have much expenditure. This is one such expenditure”
That is right. As a commerce and business management student he had prepared final accounts while answering to questions in the accountancy. Business firms debit several expenditures which are wholly and exclusively used for business purposes. They debit manufacturing and trading expenses, office expenses, salary, commission, consultancy etc. Can this be a consultancy fee? Is there anything wrong in this? Shrimali pondered over this.
He asked: “Will you give me a receipt?”
“For giving Rs 5000/- every month.”
“No, how it is possible!”
“See Mehtaji, I want to be an honest businessman. I am a professional manager who topped the University. I want to account every rupee of income and expenditure”
Mehta understood the dilemma of the young entrepreneur. He found a bookish answer to the bookish businessman.
“I will give you a receipt in the name of my son. He shall be your consultant henceforth.”
Shrimali thought about it again. I have already spent almost half the loan from brothers. How will I give another Rs 5000/-?
He begged again: “Mehtaji, is there any other way out? Rs 5000/- is a big money for me!”
Mehta abruptly concluded the discussion. “Please don’t waste my time. You are not going to get a licence otherwise.”
Shrimali left Mehta’s house and reached home very late. He was happy that all had slept by that time. He went to bed, but was unable to sleep. He hated the idea of doing business! Family, friends, teachers, relatives, all of them will brand me as a failure tomorrow. I have become a debtor to my own brothers and sister-in-laws before even starting a business. Should I be paying bribe to get things done? Would it be dishonesty?
Solving the ethical dilemma
The next day morning he decided to meet his teacher (who became the professor of one of the premier IIMs in India) and discuss his ethical dilemma.
He said: “Sir, I am all along a topper from school days. I am the Gold Medallist for my Business Administration Course. I have a passion for doing business. I have done a pilot study of mining business and gained technical competence in it. My sister-in-laws pledged their personal gold jewellery to raise capital for my business venture. And I have already spent half of that and still unable to secure a mining licence, though I am eligible as per rules and procedures. I couldn’t apply the strategies and concepts I learnt in my course. I am forced to incur illegal expenditure to get my business flagged off. What shall I do?”
Professor thought for a while. Then said these words: “I do not have any comments on corruption or bribery which you have mentioned. But, in the given situation, I have just one practical advice. I fully support the statement of the dealing clerk that ‘people should do only what they are good at it’. Don’t do something which you are not capable of doing.”
The answer of the professor was clear to Shrimali.
The decision squarely lies with him. Shrimali pondered over the matter for two days. On the third day, he met Mehta and said: “I have appointed your son as my liaison officer for my mining business.
Mehta took Rs 2000/- as advance and promptly issued him a receipt.
Shrimali felt relieved. He was convinced that he did the right thing. He went happily home. He had dinner with all family members. Slept peacefully!
Breaking rules when there are no alternative roads to go ahead
He learned that money works wonders. Rs 2000/- really made a big difference to the entire project. The very next day, Mr Mehta came to his house. He brought the ‘missing file’ containing his application. He said: “Shrimali, the area for which you have given plan and proposal for mining is not a rich source for marble. You will incur huge loss if you carry out the project there.”
Shrimali was shocked. He asked: “But I have got the inspection done by a Geologist and he certified it to be the right place”
Mehta said: “Who can be an expert than us in the field of marble mining in this area? Don’t worry. Hell with your Geologist’s report. I have got a fresh report done by another geologist. I will submit that for you. You need to just sign the papers”
Within a week, the lease was sanctioned!
The very next day, Shrimali borrowed a Yezdi Motorbike from a friend and rode to the site along with another man who he had appointed as work supervisor. It was about 8 kilometres inside the forest. As soon as he reached there, he found more than 200 tribes armed with bow and arrow waiting there. They were coming towards the motor bike. Shrimali got frightened and thought he should turn back and leave the place. But the supervisor told him not to go back. But Shrimali was too scared of the shouting of those tribes.
“Bhagawan, are you giving this devoted Brahmin in the hands of these violent men?” He cried.
He turned the bike and travelled half a kilometre in the return direction.
He stopped the bike. What should I do? Neither the clerk nor the supervisor ever told that such an eventuality was waiting for me. Cheaters! Scoundrels!
He looked angrily at the supervisor. He said: “Saab, no need to get scared of them. They have gathered there to demand work from you. They must have come to know that we are starting a project there!”
“But, how can I give job to that many people. You know I am a management graduate. I have prepared a project design that has an optimum requirement of just 15 persons. How can I employ these many people? I don’t have any money for that.”
“Saab, let us go there. Then we will take a decision” the supervisor told Shrimali.
They returned to the site. By that time all of them were sitting in the entire project area. Many of them had bows, arrows, long sticks, and tree branches. Some of them were smoking from a long pipe. Shrimali was still scared to go near. They parked the bike at a distance and got down. As soon as they got down the people started running towards them singing some wild song. Shrimali literally shivered standing there and couldn’t know what to do next. He thought, 'today is my end!' And the end to all his dreams!
They stood before him and screamed in a dialect he couldn’t follow. Supervisor, who could comprehend it a bit, conveyed that they were asking for jobs for all of them.
Shrimali asked the supervisor to tell them to be calm. He could manage them to sit. Shrimali thought, this is the time to put the management principles to practice. How to leverage the availability of large unskilled labour force? He does not have much time to take the decision. If he didn’t accede to their request they might harm him. They also won’t allow the project to take off in that area. He needed to solve the issue immediately.
After about fifteen minutes of planning and discussion with Supervisor, he decided to take one person per family. That could be a fair decision as no family will be left out. But, that means, about 60 persons to be given job, where the budget is only for 15 persons. He discussed the matter with them. After detailed planning, discussion and bargaining he succeeded in his first negotiation as an entrepreneur.
Following proposal was finalized.
He will hire 60 men (one from each family) and 20 ladies
They will be given 2 kg of wheat and half kg onions per person per day. (They didn’t insist for wages).
They will work from 7 am to 5 pm
Shrimali worked out the cost. It would be less than the cost he estimated in the original design.
While on the way back, he felt very disturbed. Is it an ethical decision? Am I flouting the Minimum Wages Act? Is my package as per Equal Remuneration Act? Am I flouting the PF/ESI/Gratuity Acts? Am I violating the rules related to service conditions while hiring labour?
He could not have gone with the project otherwise. His life would have been at risk. Now, he has ensured meals for all those 80 persons who were living under poverty and who never had proper food in their life.
Shrimali prepared a design for division of labour for the labourers from the tribal community. Old persons were given less arduous work like supervising and maintaining punctuality. . Women helped in cooking the meals for all. The grocery supplied was sufficient to feed not only the labourers but the entire community of about 250 persons. Shrimali distributed sugar once in a fortnight and it was a rare luxury for them when they had kheer on such days. They celebrated the days when sugar and dal were supplied.
Within 20 days one big marble block was extracted. Shrimali himself went to market to sell the block. He got four times the cost. On that day he gave a grand feast to all labourers. He distributed them rice, dal and sweets, on that day. They jumped in joy getting those things. They sang and danced around their saviour. They said, they never had such good life before and started almost worshipping him. And they resolved that they will work very sincerely for the master. They started coming for work much earlier than the scheduled time and continued to work till late evening.
Mehta’s son who was his consultant took care of all the enforcement agencies so that none disturbed the business. But Mehta raised the liaison fee to 10000/- within 6 months. He told Shrimali that he need not visit the mining department for any work henceforth. They will come to his house and collect the details.
Business grew very rapidly as he could extract high quality white marbles from the site. He started getting 10 to 15 times the cost for his produce.
He said to himself. I am a topper in Management and I have innovative ideas. Therefore I should implement unique strategies. He hired space in major cities and established stock yards. He researched the market potential for marble chips and processed them and got huge orders. He worked from 5 AM in the morning to 11 PM in the night. He never took holidays.
As business grew, his care to the labourers also increased. He started taking several litres of milk in his vehicle to the site every day. The labourers started tasting tea for the first time. He brought them better tools and made the work easy for them.
Shrimali purchased a bigger plot and constructed a big house for the joint family. He had told his architect: “I want 30 rooms with attached toilets and there should be a portico where at least 25 cars can be parked. He always aspired big since his school days.
He married Anjana at the age of 22. He owned five mines in due course and got a turnover of about 40 crores. He diversified into soft stones, green marbles and globally competitive design stones.
But the continuous work without any rest took a toll on his health very badly. Due to acute stomach ache he was admitted to hospital. He insisted that he should be admitted only to a government hospital. He was just 22. Doctor said he was suffering from acute peptic ulcer. He borrowed a book on peptic ulcer from the Doctor and read about the disease.
He utilized those 15 days stay in the hospital for personal introspection and also a critical evaluation of his business projects. He understood that he spent more time than what was required for the projects. He could have delegated the work and reduced his physical presence. He was working as a machine. He found that in spite of his absence the daily out puts were not affected and in fact it improved.
Shrimali prepared a fresh organizational design and delegated all work except the area of finance to his staff. He hired a manager of a finance company to oversee the job of management accounting in the evenings.
The moment he was out of the hospital he started focusing on marketing and customer relationships. He travelled frequently to meet the customers. He treated the major customers as his personal friends and always carried some gifts such as specially made sweaters, shawls etc., whenever he visited them. He built a relationship of trust and loyalty with all his customers. This paid him rich dividends.
It was year 1977 and he was just 24. He had already become a successful businessman; a well known industrialist; made enduring transformation in the community from which he took his labourers. He trained them in skilled employment. He led a team of very motivated staff. He acquired assets. Financially he supported his relatives. He was happy that he could successfully implement the management principles. He felt a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, except in one area where his dreams from college days still unfulfilled. That was the passion for teaching!
One fine day he drove his jeep to meet his teacher and told him his interest to come back to academics. He told him to start associating with the University and introduced him to professors. But the turning point happened when he was given a chance to present a paper in the Management Development Institute, Delhi.
What really made him readily agree was not the chance to present a paper in MDI but the air ticket to Delhi. The moment he was asked whether he would like to present a paper in Delhi, he had the audacity to ask an air ticket as a condition. And to his surprise they agreed to give him one in spite of the fact that he was a very junior faculty and also not an established speaker. That was the first air trip in his life. He presented the paper to a very vibrant group and got inspired by the positive and constructive feedback.
The Director of the Institute gave him the good news. He offered him the post of an Assistant Professor. He said: ‘Generally we take only people who passed out from IIMs, IITs or Universities from abroad or Presidents or Vice Presidents of MNCs. You are an exception’
He was offered a salary of Rs 830/- and he accepted the job.
Then he faced the next dilemma! What would happen to his businesses?
Nothing is impossible! He decided to delegate the entire business operations to his team including the financial control. He had faith in his team.
But would the Institute agree to this proposition? Could he do the business remotely? Yes, he could convince the Institute. There was a legal way out.
The problem of English and the urbanism
Within a few days in Delhi he realized that he was at a huge disadvantage. He just couldn’t master fluency in English. His accent was hinglish. He didn’t get a good accommodation. He found that his salary was grossly inadequate to live in Delhi. That problem could be solved by drawing money from his business. But how to improve English at this level, when he has reached the post of an Assistant Professor? It was not as easy as making money in business by changing strategies or managing the labour issues.
Shramili was never a man who ran away from problems. He started taking sincere steps to learn to write and speak good English.
First step was to subscribe two newspapers in English Language that covered economic and financial matters. He was never in the habit of reading newspapers in English language. He started picking books, both fiction and non-fiction from the library and started reading to develop vocabulary. He used to underline the words he couldn’t understand and to refer to the dictionary. He decided to speak only in English as far as possible in the campus to friends and colleagues to develop the fluency. He tuned to BBC News in his pocket radio to practice better accent. All these steps were carried out sincerely for about six months. The result was amazing. Earlier he used to plan and rehearse in advance what sentences he would speak in English before a meeting, discussion or even a casual conversation in English with his colleagues. After his self-training, he could engage in long conversations in unbroken English and got the confidence in participating in seminars and discussions with more courage and enthusiasm.
First consultancy project he did for the Private Sector Petroleum Company was a widely appreciated assignment. Shrimali ‘s unique blend of technical experience, managerial expertise, business acumen and the talent to innovate did wonders in evaluating and redesigning the operations of the company. In the first days in the company head quarters and in the sites, the general managers competed to offer best of hospitality to him and invited him for sightseeing. Shrimali politely rejected all such ‘holidaying’ at the cost of the company and categorically informed them that he meant business. Instead of accepting their hospitality, Shrimali invited managers at different levels to his guest house for dinner on different days and interacted with them at length to understand the issues, problems and suggestions. He spent several hours in the site and inspected all major machineries himself and detected the bottlenecks. He found that costly machineries which could be made functional with minor re-designing and upgrading had been kept idle after branding them as obsolete. The suggestions given to them resulted not only in the increase of the turnover leaps and bounds, but also better work satisfaction at different levels of organizational hierarchy.
All above was done by the age 25. Imagine, today, this the average age of a fresh MBA graduate who just joins as an intern! Whereas Shrimali had been a teacher, lecturer, entrepreneur, Industrialist, Consultant and a well acclaimed speaker by the age of 25!
Let me stop here!
Shrimali continued to implement his creative ideas in his professional and business life. He became the Director of Management Development Institute New Delhi. He became Visiting Professor at many universities abroad. Completed about 50 research and consultancy projects. He continues his professional journey with a smile!
Nothing is impossible.
If someone else can do; I can do.
If I don’t do who else will do?
Competence is never given.
It is always acquired.
It comes out of practice.
Do your boss’s work
I should delegate my work and do the work at next higher level.
I should do the work of boss and give him the credit.
Come out of Donkey syndrome
Don’t keep doing your subordinates’ work.
If you do this, neither you nor your subordinates will improve.
Be better than the best
You should be better than the best and better than the rest.
If I don’t plan I will be sucked by the circumstances.
Create value for yourself
Ask Yourself: You will die one day. What you will be remembered of?
Prescription for the Management student
· Understanding all types of businesses by the time he completes the course.
· Read three financial/economic newspapers daily.
· Try to learn something new in the area of business every day.
· Be outcome focused rather than activity focused.
· Evaluate achievement on a regular basis.
Prescription for young managers and entrepreneurs
· Have a wealth creating mind-set.
· Understanding the customer is the key to business success.
· Successful manager works to exceed customer delight.
Questions for discussion and comments
1. What are the secrets of Shrimali’ success at an early age of 25?
2. What are the ethical dilemmas he faced?
3. Do you think he was right in taking a short cut for getting a mining licence?
4. Do you feel that the IIM Professor gave the right guidance to him while he was approached by Shrimali with the ethical dilemma of succumbing to the demands of the dealing clerk in the Mining Department?
5. How can Shrimali justify he circumventing many labour and business laws in the initial stages while implementing his mining project?
6. What are the challenges for an entrepreneur who wants do business in India? What are your policy suggestions?
7. What are the lessons, a young aspiring manager/entrepreneur can learn from the early life of Shrimali?
8. Whether the current curriculums of MBA Schools are adequate to produce a successful manager or entrepreneur?
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