Silicon India Interview - Chiranjit Banerjee's Story
About Chiranjit Banerjee's family
I am a first generation late state entrepreneur after having worked for almost 20 years in well regarded state owned, MNC & domestic private sector companies. Both my father and grandfather were in the government. There are no other entrepreneurs in my extended family too.
If I had begun my career in post liberalization India, I would have probably turned entrepreneur even earlier. Creative people were not always encouraged in a far more closed economy that I experienced between 1979 and 1990 when I was a banker.
Learning is a journey; never a destination. I learnt to email only in 1997 (when I was all of 40!) and as it happens, 90% of my business today is conducted electronically. I am a very keen student even at this age and read voraciously on matters as diverse as technology to politics.
Biographies and auto biographies of iconic business leaders like Lee Iacoca, Jack Welch, Warren Buffet, Akio Morita & Bill Gates and closer home, JRD Tata, M S Oberoi and Narayan Murthy are a must read. The HBR is also highly recommended to stay on top of contemporary practices.
Memory, responsiveness, integrity and focus.
Working Life Management:
Am tempted to quote Mr K V Kamath who once famously said, "Get yourself some work before you worry about life". I am an unapologetic workaholic. I am happiest when working.
Degrees That Matter:
Boarding school is the best preparation for life. My school(RIMC) delivered the first few key blows on the anvil of my life that have shaped me. Or else, get yourself a hyper demanding boss who wont settle for anything less than AAA+ output.
Without a shred of doubt - Narayan Murthy. He showed mere middle class mortals like us the high path of doing business without compromising one's ethics, values and morality. I have never paid a bribe to win business nor will I ever.
I am a very hands on co owner & manager of the firm. My clients expect me to work individually on each and every leadership suite search which I do with passion and enthusiasm even if the outcome is not always favorable. Aside of that, I am constantly mentoring our young staff.
I have been a business owner for eight years now prior to which I was a management consultant between 1997 and 2003. Still before that, I was a salaried manager. The range of these multiple experiences have been most rewarding.
The Journey So Far:
Its been a roller coaster. A combination of SBI, Citibank & American Express is eclectic to say the least. As a front line banker, I came to understand the customer more deeply than most others. In the capital markets stints that followed, I sifted value from price.
My current business does not touch too many lives restricted that it is to the highest end of the hiring pyramid. I am plunging into another venture that will broaden my canvas by connecting youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to worthwhile career opportunities.
Plans For The Future:
Getting better and smarter at what I do is my perennial objective. Retirement is a lazy thought for me.
Advice For New Professionals:
Choose your vertical with care. Functional expertise is not enough. Research your prospective employer robustly. Consider deriving optimal value by sticking to a company for at least 5 years. Most CEOs are what we call "lifers".