A Jour­ney from Sell­ing Salt and Soup to In­sur­ance

The Economic Times - - Money & Banking -

Ca­reer choice in gen­eral is de­ter­mined by what one as­pires for in life – money, fame, pas­sion, cause, or even com­mand from the fam­ily. For Anup Rau, it was love at first sight for a build­ing.

That was the time when even the busiest fi­nan­cial district in the coun­try, Na­ri­man Point in Mum­bai, was dot­ted with build­ings where paint was peel­ing off and pan stains made of­fices stink.

Even though the land on which the build­ing was com­ing up was once a garbage dump, the ICICI Build­ing was a mar­vel when it came up. It prob­a­bly was the first build­ing with such a lovely glass façade at the turn of the cen­tury, though many build­ings with bet­ter ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs have sprung up in the lo­cal­ity since then.

Ex­cited at the water­fall that greeted him, Rau com­mit­ted the car­di­nal s i n t hat no a s pi r i ng e mployee should do – take the lift re­served for the top bosses. But the kind man that Kevin Wright was, he still gave Rau the job though the lat­ter hardly knew in­sur­ance.

Tak­ing up the role also meant be­ing part of his­tory – sell­ing the first in­sur­ance pol­icy from the pri­vate sec­tor af­ter the Life In­sur­ance Corp of In­dia’s monopoly was broken. All that he wanted to do was sell, and the swanky ICICI Bank Tower in the Ban­dra-Kurla Com­plex was just the ic­ing on the cake.

Rau as the coun­try head of Edel­weiss’ gen­eral in­sur­ance busi­ness will be rolling out 29th in­sur­ance com­pany in the coun­try, thanks to his jour­ney through some of the best com­pa­nies in the coun­try – ICICI Pru­den­tial Life, HDFC Life and as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Re­liance Nip­pon Life.

The jour­ney to the cor­ner office has been through the salt godowns of Sasaram in Bi­har and Renukut in Ut­tar Pradesh, and sell­ing tea for Dun­cans firm.

What has been the for­mula for his suc­cess af­ter cut­ting teeth sell­ing Cap­tain Cook salt?

“When what you sell is just white in colour, with no price dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and no value ad­di­tion…. You are the dif­fer­ence,” says Rau. “A lot of the de­ci­sions I take are im­pul­sive and in­tu­itive. There is very lit­tle point in over analysing.”

Born into a fam­ily of men serv­ing in mil­i­tary and in­spired by the uni­form, Rau had a stab at join­ing the Army. But the at­tempt ended in a dis­as­ter with him break­ing an an­kle at the se­lec­tion drill.

The next best thing was to fol­low his dad who was sell­ing re­search in­stru­ments to gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. But he was less lucky, he ended up sell­ing salt and flour for DCW where his tar­get on day one was to sell a truck load of salt which gave him a sense of achieve­ment. The exit was not so though when the com­pany de­faulted on its prov­i­dent fund obli­ga­tions.

Some­one in the com­pany was kind enough to of­fer him a barter deal – here’s 6 tonnes of un­sold salt and you make good by sell­ing it. Not one to waste an op­por­tu­nity, Rau man­aged to make the best of it.

Al­though ICICI Pru and HDFC Life were com­pa­nies that laid the foun­da­tion, it was Re­liance Nip­pon Life where he made a mark. Dur­ing his ten­ure, the revenue of the com­pany grew in dou­ble dig­its to around ₹ 1,200 crore on the in­di­vid­ual Dis­pos­als per judge per year

To­tal dis­pos­als per year weighted re­ceived pre­mium ba­sis. Its na­tional rank­ing jumped to 5th, from 7th be­fore his en­try.

Man­age­ment is sim­ple, says Rau, who has an eco­nomics de­gree from Delhi Col­lege of Arts and Com­merce and a man­age­ment de­gree from SIES in Mum­bai. Where did he learn the way to deal with peo­ple? Pat comes the re­ply – Sau­rav Gan­guly. “Look at the way he han­dled Se­hwag, Parthiv Pa­tel and even Harb­ha­jan’s re­turn,” says Rau. “You have to have con­vic­tion and faith in your choices.”

For him, talk­ing about cricket and in­ter­act­ing with crick­et­ing greats, like Jeff Thom­son re­cently, are big stress­busters. Rau has a pas­sion for cricket.

Even now he plays ten­nis ball cricket with friends, but prefers read­ing books be­cause it is less de­mand­ing phys­i­cally. He has a col­lec­tion of 4,000 books.

De­spite ap­pear­ing to be soft, he can be stub­born when it comes to some­thing he is con­vinced about. Even if there are enough ar­gu­ments to prove him wrong, he would per­sist with it.

At ICICI Pru­den­tial, to es­cape the ever chaotic Mum­bai traf­fic, he came up with work hours of 7.30 am to 5.30 pm for his team de­spite many op­pos­ing it as their out­side en­gage­ments were get­ting af­fected. He went ahead de­spite op­po­si­tion, but had to ul­ti­mately with­draw it af­ter much suf­fer­ing by all. What would be the one guid­ing spirit that he would hang on to?

“It is the team sport that played. There may be times whe n yo u have to drop some­one, or push the or­der in which a player bats. But I have not sacked any­one in my life, ex­cept for in­tegrity is­sues. I out­pace them.” The In­sol­vency and Bank­ruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is ex­pected to over­haul ex­ist­ing frame­work for re­solv­ing cor­po­rate and in­di­vid­ual in­sol­ven­cies and bank­rupt­cies

The IBC stip­u­lates that The Na­tional Com­pany Law Tri­bunal (NCLT) to be the sin­gle ad­ju­di­cat­ing author­ity for all cor­po­rate de­fault cases

With the dis­so­lu­tion of the Com­pany Law Board (CLB) ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 pend­ing cases in the CLB are bound to move to NCLT I

In­dia DRT

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