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The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of one of the most celebrated Indian IT multinational companies, CP Gurnani, is not just another manager. In his words, he is an Entrepreneur Manager with the only focus on getting things done.
In his conversation with Entrepreneur, Gurnani had 5 cents to give to entrepreneurs.
You can never be perfect & can never have a perfect plan
Gurnani says he always knew he would be very righteous and very successful. He always knew he would help create organizations but never dreamt of being a CEO of one of the largest IT firms in the world.
“In the middle of nowhere, I landed to Rourkela for my chemical engineering degree. Soon after I reached Rourkela, I created the Rotaract Club for Rourkela. I did sales and marketing for a UK-based company Fenner out of Kolkata before landing on a job in the IT space,” Gurnani said.
He calls himself the small town guy who didn’t even know what being a CEO meant.
“At 33, I was already a CEO of a small unit. At 38, I was already a CXO. It was no longer a dream, it just came to me. People today when they come and say they want to do futures’ trading, I am like at 17! I didn’t even know what futures’ trading is till I was 30.”
The challenge is in getting started, even if you don’t have all the answers
Gurnani did just start out planning on becoming one of the CEOs of a top firm.
“I joined a company called Fenner India because that was the only company that was giving me a break in sales. In 1995, I heard a friend saying he was so busy. He was working with Wipro. And my research told me this was the industry that I must be in,” said Gurnani.
Gurnani was about 28-29, when a corporate friend of his asked him what his dream was to which he replied “I said I want to sleep in the blanket given by the airlines and I want to drive a Mercedes.”
A few years later, when he had both, the same friend asked him what he wanted now to which Gurnani said “I want to create this organization which is hundred and thousand people, because in the evening I want to sleep well with the thought that 150,000 people are looking after each other.”
Gurnani believes the organization will continue beyond him and wishes to spend his money on the next philanthropy that he intends to do.
Being only talented doesn’t work
Gurnani call atheletes his role models as none of them is only talented.
“I don’t know any person who is successful – none of them is only talented. It is talent, plus hardwork, plus mentoring, plus coaching, plus feedback, learning and then unlearning. Whoever wants to successful has to behave like an athelete. When someone else is sleeping, you get up at 4 am and push yourself,” says Gurnani.
‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has to be the theme of your life’ says the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of one of the most celebrated Indian IT multinational companies.
Assume failures are a part of life
“I don’t know any successful guy who will not fall. You are successful because you’ll be more right than others. Take chances, assume failures are a part of life,” says Gurnani.
A Jack Ma became successful 10 years after starting out. And there will always like a Kanwal Rekhis, Shailesh Mehtas and Pramod Dhak who will be successful no matter where they are. But persistence is key, believes Gurnani.
In a career spanning 35 years, Gurnani has held several leading positions with HCL Hewlett Packard Limited, Perot Systems (India) Limited and HCL Corporation Ltd. In 2016, Gurnani was appointed Chairman of NASSCOM for 2016-2017.
Be nice to people & build relationships
Whether they are mentors, juniors, colleagues, peers; without people you cannot do anything, says Gurnani who has had many mentors in his life.
Gurnani recalls one of the chats with his former boss at Fenner India.
“My last day at Fenner, my boss called and said the guy we hired in place of you has not come. If you want to continue for a few more months, that would be great. But since you have a commitment, we won’t push. And I told him I’ll have to negotiate with the company that’s hiring me but I will continue because it was not about only Fenner, it was about my customers.”
“The HR told me straightaway in one email – when you are available, write to us, if we have a job available, we’ll give it to you. I didn’t even have a second thought. Any 27-year old would have felt the earth shake. But my belief from the start has been you build relationships be loyal.”
Gurnani calls himself a bit of an off-roader whose aim is be loyal his employees and his customers.