“I HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PUBLISH GOOD, SOLID CONTENT.”
MILEE ASHWARYA Editor- in- chief, Penguin Random House India
Q. Your career choice
Milee Ashwarya: To be honest, it was an accident. I majored in English Literature, but was not much into MBA or civil services. There were other options like masscom or advertising, but I was a very confused person at the time. I could not imagine my life without books, though. So, a friend suggested I should work in publishing. I joined Rupa in 2006 and moved to Random House India two years later.
Q. On leadership role
It has been an exciting journey. There is a lot of learning, and I feel very humble when I think of all the opportunities I had. I was young and restless and wanted to try new things, and my bosses helped me push the boundaries. It is our turn to nurture people so that they can take on new challenges, work on their ideas.
Q. Your ideology and the way forward
With passion, comes responsibility. I am not here to promote any ideology; I am not a member of any party. But I have the responsibility to publish good, solid content because it impacts our life. Books are our windows to the world; they leave a lasting impression on our world view. So, we need to be very careful about what we publish. I am also keen to publish many more Indian writers. Discovering new voices and excellent writing is a great experience.
Q. Most challenging project
Exam Warriors by PM Narendra Modi. It is very rare for a sitting prime minister to write for the young people. We made sure that the execution was flawless and finished it in about 10 months.
Q. Three must-dos for new writers
Writing is a tough job and you have to know what it requires. Be authentic and original – be yourself and tell your story. If you are passionate, willing to learn and ready to put in time and energy, it should work. Finally, be disciplined. There could be days when you can’t write, but generally, be serious about writing. All great writers overcome distractions. They have set hours, style, rhythm, and you should do the same.
Q. Five must-read books for women leaders
A. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell; Feminist Rani by Shaili Chopra and Meghna Pant; The Inheritors by Sonu Bhasin; Thrive by Ariana Huffington and Daughters of Legacy by Puja Singhal and Rinku Paul. As told to Sanghamitra Mandal