MILEE ASHWARYA Ed­i­tor- in- chief, Pen­guin Ran­dom House In­dia

Business Today - - THE BREAKOUT ZONE -

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

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