Shadowing Adi Godrej chairman, Godrej Group

I started my day at 10 am with a quick chat with Aparajita Agarwal, executive assistant to the chairman.

Updated: May 21, 2014, 16:26 PM IST

Jeeten Desai

I started my day at 10 am with a quick chat with Aparajita Agarwal, executive assistant to the chairman. They had to make some changes in my schedule for the day due to changes in the availability of two people. When I met Chairman Godrej he asked me about my life, where I grew up and how my career spanned out. He on the other hand told be how he used to be on the board of a student organisation called AIESEC, which was now being handled by his elder daughter. He showed keen interest in what I had to say and seemed genuinely interested in the conversation. He then explained the history of the organisation right from when his grandfather started Godrej. We had a detailed discussion around the current plans of the organisation and their vision for 2020. ABG as he is fondly referred to, is a very articulate individual. Our meeting lasted for over an hour and then I was to meet him again after lunch to sit on one of his R&D meetings.

Next, I met with Nitin Nabar, president and executive director for Godrej Chemicals. I had shown interest in meeting someone from the chemicals business and was surprised to meet the president himself. It was great meeting. Like everyone else I met at Godrej, Nabar was a humble man. He started his career at the very roots of the factory, on the shop floor and made his way up. It was amazing to see how so many people I met had started decades ago.
My next meeting was with Arivinder Singh, vice president, marketing and imports, Godrej Chemicals, and Clement Pinto, vice president, finance, Godrej Chemicals. They made a customised presentation for me and explained to me in detail how they ran the chemicals business, what their current issues were and what their major targets were for the coming few years to meet the vision 2020 goals.

After my meeting with the chemicals team, I meet Shireesh Joshi, head, strategic marketing. I was surprised to learn how he used some of the concepts of conjoint and surveys being used in making the decisions for spending money in advertisements and changing consumer behaviour. Joshi was a delightful person to chat with, I had a working lunch with him and he showed interest in meeting up with students. Next up was the meeting with Tina Trikha, vice president, strategy and planning. She explained to me how the consumer products business was growing and shared examples of how they are innovating even at their simple products like pest repellents, hair dyes etc.
My next meeting was with the chairman and his R&D team. They were talking about the launch of awareness campaigns and new research done in the field of mosquito repellents. I was honoured to be part of the meeting and gained insights on such a simple but necessary product. After the meeting, we carried our discussion about what I learnt during the day and if I had any questions for him.

My last meeting for the day was with Nisaba Godrej who heads innovation at Godrej Consumer Products and is also involved with the cultural change in the organisation with a people management function. She did her MBA from Harvard and it was great to talk to her about her learning and how she still picks up the phone to speak with her professors from Harvard when she is unsure of a certain or strategy or when she just wants someone to challenge her point of view. I saw a stark difference in the personalities of the father and daughter. Overall it was a brilliant day and given a chance, I would do this all over again. It will remain as one of the high points of being a management student and I will cherish it for a long long time to come.