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Article by Rajiv Inamdar, Member, Governing Board.


(Rajiv Inamdar is the Managing Director of Heidrick & Struggles'  Global Knowledge Management Center (KMC) based in Delhi, India. Rajiv has over 30 years of international experience in advertising, brand management, market research, consumer banking , private banking , asset management , credit cards and knowledge management with some of the best known companies in the world. These include Glaxo Smith Kline, JWT, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, AC Nielsen ORG Marg , IMRB and Egon Zehnder. During his career he has established and run two companies – Sri Lanka’s first market research company (LMRB) a part of the WPP Group and Egon Zehnder’s global knowledge centre in India ( EZIRS). He has worked in five countries : UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sri Lanka and India.   He is an accomplished tennis player and keen golfer.)


When I graduated from business school in the seventies, my class fellows and contemporaries, were among the best and brightest of our generation. Approximately thirty two years on, as I sit down to write this article and reflect on the reasons why some of them have been outstandingly successful and others less so and keeping in mind my personal experiences over my career, some defining characteristics of successful people become apparent. I thought the best way to express these is to write the ‘obituary’ of the quintessential ‘successful executive ‘.  This is how it would read:


‘He was capable of immense amounts of hard work and able to put in long hours into his job year after year sometimes at the cost of his personal family life. But his work was always driven by a definite vision and goals for himself and an almost child like enthusiasm and passion for his job. He always regarded failure as a stepping stone to eventual success and learnt from each setback. I have never known him to feel sorry for himself.


He was able to see the big picture but was a master of detail so it was hard to get anything past him. He was highly disciplined and his tolerance for indiscipline and shoddy work was low.


He was an extraordinary manager of people, always showing a genuine respect for not just his bosses but also for his peers and subordinates who always trusted him to do the right thing by them. He listened hard to his customers and colleagues and acted upon what he heard. With his unbounded optimism for life and his job, he was a joy to be around. He had an incredible sense of humor and sense of repartee and knew when to lighten the mood of a difficult meeting with a quip or a joke. His optimism was infectious.



He read voraciously, was a treasure trove of knowledge and could talk knowledgeably about many subjects. He was an exceptional communicator and could relate to and entertain both commoners and kings.


He was a bold but calculated risk taker. His career moves were always well considered, never foolish.


He was extremely high on integrity and treated his company’s money as his own. He was generous to a fault but always with his own money, not the company’s.


He knew when and how to relax. And how to get the most out of life. He truly did live life as if each day was his last. And when he passed away after a long and successful career his people did not talk about how effective a leader he was or how profitable his company was. They only remarked in awe - ‘what a fine human being he was …'

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