• Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Shiv Shivakumar Speaks about his Book "The Art Of Management" With Frontlist


on Jun 27, 2022
Shiv Shivakumar

Shiv Shivakumar, or Shiv, as he is popularly known, is one of India’s longest-serving CEOs. He is currently the group executive president of Aditya Birla Group. He has worked across multiple industries and categories and has handled over sixty brands in his career. He was CEO of Nokia in India and subsequently led the company’s emerging markets unit; he was also chairman and CEO of PepsiCo South Asia. He is regarded as one of India’s leading management and leadership thinkers and speakers.

Frontlist - What was your rationale for choosing the subject "Management" for writing your third book? 

Shiv: I come from a management background but I didn’t want the book to be only about management topics / issues. I could have got management professionals only for the book, however I felt that the concepts of management are applicable in all professions and hence picked a wide variety of personalities to talk about their own ways of managing themselves, a team and their business. Next, I have always felt that a management concept always is in the context and hence can never be an exact science. That’s why I called it the Art of Management.

Frontlist- You discussed the three elements of Management - Managing Yourself, Your Team, and Your Business. Have you applied these elements to accelerate your career growth, or is it only for inspiring other professionals? 

Shiv: Managing oneself is the key to building the other two. In managing yourself, I have talked about managing time, managing your emotions, managing your ambition. Managing time requires a lot of discipline.  Time is something all of us have the same of but manage differently. At one level its personal and at another level its cultural, i.e. India as a country doesn’t value time in the way western nations do. Managing time means being respectful to others and their priorities.  Managing time means not being double booked on appointments. Managing time means sticking to commitment in terms of deadlines. Managing time means using ‘dead time’ like being in an airport or aircraft well.

Frontlist- Young generations are disposed to establishing their own start-ups rather than working in Multinational Companies. If you have ever been given the choice between MNCs and Startups, then what would you like to opt for and why? 

Shiv: I think the options before young professionals are many and I would say they should choose what excites them and where they think they can use their talent best. While options exist, the attitude to failure and success needs to change. If someone has worked in a set of failed start-ups, then their CV value will be impacted. We need to see failure as immense learning and an opportunity for the person to do well in the future.

My advice would be whatever you do, please give it time, you cannot keep hopping every year, give the organisation at least three years.

Ques - You interviewed a different set of people to illustrate different elements of Management. How come you were able to select these specific individuals? 

Shiv: I picked individuals who were very good at their respective craft, I picked individuals who would tell it as is, i.e. being candid, I picked individuals who were secure in their achievements and legacy. These 21 professionals didn’t need the book, the book needed them for completeness.

Selecting them was the first part, getting them to agree was the second part and then designing the questions with their experience in mind was the third part. We then interviewed them, edited it, re-sent it to them for confirmation and then finally put it in the book.

Frontlist - Educated people have more emancipation to articulate their opinions vis-a-vis those who are ignorant. This must be the primary reason that you referenced well-known professionals in this book. However, we do not believe that learning the art of management requires a certain educational degree. What are your thoughts on this?

Shiv: I agree with you. The best professional in the whole world is the Indian mom. Look at the way she manages everything, in many cases she might not have a formal education but she knows what’s the right thing to do. 

I remember some years ago there were two factions that got formed in a company where I worked, the MBAs and the non -MBAs. The non -MBAs had obviously been longer at the company and ran into governance issues. They made it out to be a MBA vs non MBA culture. I was amazed that the office staff – i.e. the tea boy, the lift man, the office delivery boy knew instinctively what was right and what was wrong. They helped the so called MBA team by giving them enough tips about what the other group was up to. So, honesty, integrity, and doing the right thing crosses language, ethnic and professional boundaries. You don’t need to articulate something to do it right, you can do the right thing without the power of great speech.

Frontlist - ‘The Art of Management’ features 21 top leaders. Which leader impacted you the most while writing this book? 

Shiv: All of them impacted me in one way or the other as I listened to their point of view. Each had a different lens to view the situation or the topic.

Frontlist- How will this book prove beneficial to all young professionals? What is the key advice you would like to give our young minds to upscale their growth trajectory? 

Shiv: My advice to every professional young or old , successful or unsuccessful is – reskill yourself via learning. You had no control over where you were born, where you started, but you have full control over where you will end. Learn everyday by watching others, learn by reading, learn by talking to people outside your industry, learn by doing projects, learn on the job. If you are learning, you are preparing for the future and opportunities will come knocking soon.

Next, you will succeed as much as you fail, so build resilience. Don’t look back, look ahead constantly, that’s where you are headed. Life is too short for having long periods of regret!!

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