Chief Belief Officer (CBO). That title really intrigued us. So did the role! So we asked Devdutt Pattanaik, the chief belief officer of Future Group (FG), what the job title precisely meant? And what does he exactly do? In return, he asked, “Why is that people never question what CEO (chief executive officer) stands for? CEO is not a natural phenomenon, it is a cultural construction, yet, nobody thinks of it that way.” This response pretty much sums up Pattanaik for us. His role at FG, a multi-format retail company that often deals with the diversity of India, focuses on helping anyone at FG decode their beliefs and ideas. He questions everything, interacts with the leadership team at FG and helps open up people’s minds. At FG, almost every business decision has a flavour of ‘Indianess’ to it. Running a multi-format pan-India retail group meant dealing with a very diverse population that had its own beliefs. Be it with respect to employees or customers, understanding India lies at the heart of the company and Pattanaik’s role revolves around doing just that. In this edition of our cover story, we present to you, Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s first CBO.
In this edition, we also introduce a new section titled First Account, where we take you through the journey of MeritTrac, a 10-year old skills assessments company, through a first-hand detailed narration by their founder and CEO, Madan Padaki. He recalls all the ups and downs of his journey, his strategy to counter several challenges and how he eventually made it work. The story of MeritTrac helps early-stage entrepreneurs understand the ground realities and the variables involved in running a business.
Our other new section on Serial Entrepreneurship gives our readers a peek into the thought process of this interesting genre of people who have to ability to create, let go and then create again. The story of S. Parthasarathy is one such. He founded his first company, Computer Garage, an independent computer services firm, in the 80s(and exited in 1995). In 1996, he founded Aztec Software (a software product company that eventually transformed into a services company. Aztec was acquired by MindTree Limited, post his exit) which he exited a few years back. Now, he’s ready to create all over again with his latest venture, Nu Street Technologies, a cloud software products firm.
In Brand Strategy, Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, brand-comm, a brand communication consulting firm, talks about several aspects of branding in India. My discussion with Sridhar revolved around the basics of brand building. Our long-term vision for this section is to help understand cost-effective brand building that small and medium size enterprises can adopt, and this conversation was the starting point.
Finally, I would like to reiterate our vision for The Smart CEO. We want to present content that will help small and medium size businesses enhance their vision and become growth companies. Through each of our articles, we strive to achieve just that, and we hope you find this edition very useful.