Saurav Mukherjee

“Happiness will always carry a different meaning for each one, but in a corporate entity, success determines happiness, and it takes repeated accomplishments to achieve this emotion.”

In Conversation with Saurav Mukherjee, Senior Vice President – Global Sales, CEAT

1. Tell us about your background, early years & education.

I have had the privilege of staying in multiple cities, and this made my transition to a new state and city each time, all the more easier. Shifting cities does not restrict your social interactions within cosmopolitan folks alone; one gets the chance to connect at a local level as well. And that’s exactly what I did, with the local establishments, local people, food and culture everywhere I went. Albeit being a certified Kolkataite by birth, I spent my formative years in Ranchi, since my father was posted there. It was during my school years -- 10th grade to be specific, that I firmed up my plans for my future education. I went on to pursue mathematics and science, which led me to a path no different from that of any engineering aspirant. I started to prepare for IIT and imagine my joy at clearing the entrance! While pursuing B. Tech in chemical engineering from IIT BHU, along with putting in immense work, I also enjoyed life thoroughly – just as any college student worth their salt would.

Completing my IIT education felt like the end of an era in my life back in the day. However, as I bid adieu to that life, I embraced the life of a professional. I worked for a year before joining the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi University, where I went on to pursue my MBA.

2. What attracted you to the tyre sector? What do you think of the potential of RPG’s tyre company?

As a corporate professional, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of the various pursuits that led me towards five different industries over two decades. I look back at my past and realise that this kind of diversity has furthered my understanding of the corporate landscape at a holistic level. Be that as it may, the past is but a trailer to what’s coming next. I continue to be driven by the present and the imminent future. When I received an opportunity to explore the tyre sector — courtesy CEAT, joining it was a no-brainer. I firmly believe that this sector has glorious days ahead with huge potential to grow in an emerging economy such as ours. Furthermore, this sector can really scale, and this can translate into infinite learning opportunities, where one can experiment and grow.

CEAT already has a strong impression in the sector, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of RPG’s flagship company. Our manufacturing footprint is vast, the company’s R&D is unparalleled, we have substantial reach and distribution in the domestic businesses, and the relationship with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have only deepened. I can safely say that we have massive growth opportunities with a pretty impressive global footprint.

Overall, with the company’s speedy adoption of technology in all spheres of the business, this is a best-in-class team that is aligned to outperform and win every day.

3. Can you share a pivotal moment from your career with us?

As mentioned earlier, life has been very kind to me in terms of the varied sectors that I have been part of, and in leading several Indian and International MNCs at that. It’s challenging to pick one particular moment from my experience. However, the six years I spent in Nokia had a huge role to play in my overall (personal and professional) development. The Nokia assignment lent me the opportunity to multi-manage a vast-scale business in a dynamic and competitive industry, and work with some of the stalwarts in the business. Moreover, exposure to Nokia’s HR best practices further bolstered my outlook towards capability-building.

4. How was your experience of remote onboarding?

Strange and surreal! I can attribute my sentiments stemming from that experience to the fact that we, as creatures of habit, never took to digitising our ways till we had to. For the first time in my life, I was hired via an end-to-end remote process, right from the early stage to the final onboarding. As I continue to settle in my new business role, I realise how flawlessly it was executed. I would have never imagined, in theory, that this could ever happen – that too at a level of high professional calibre. And it’s not an easy thing to achieve. There was absolute clarity, transparency and, clear-cut communication on behalf of the hiring team. Albeit the human touch was missing, which really couldn’t be helped, RPG more than made up for it with their consistent engagement. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

In fact, I have been provided with a virtual tour of the Halol factory by the team, who managed it seamlessly. I was familiarised with our machines and processes and also given an end-to-end demonstration of tyre manufacturing. It was pretty splendid.

5. “Hello Happiness” is RPG’s brand promise. What makes you happy at RPG?

It’s the little things that create a significant impact. I sense positive vibes across the organisation, especially with a culture so transparent. What stands out for me at RPG is the clarity – both at the group level as well as at CEAT. There is a clear sense of purpose, with each process mapped out meticulously. It is an apolitical set-up, with clearly defined accountability, empowerment and expectations. The way RPG has been taking care of its people, especially during this pandemic – right from those in the field to those in factories, taking care of their well-being, and providing medical insurance and support to those who have contracted the virus, goes on to show the culture of this large empathetic organisation.

Happiness will always carry a different meaning for each one, but in a corporate entity, success determines happiness, and it takes repeated accomplishments to achieve this emotion. Therefore, strictly from a corporate perspective, collective happiness is driven through consistent success, winning performances and sustaining the two. I am confident that we will continue to flourish in this domain, and RPG will continue to live up to its brand promise of “Hello Happiness”.

6. How do you handle stress?

It has taken years and years of an ever-changing definition of stress to formulate my current characterisation of it. To me, stress is an outcome of one’s response to stimuli, and while the latter can’t always be controlled, we can take control of the narrative – by changing the former. That’s my way of managing stressful situations. It’s imperative to think of the long-term consequences of a momentary lapse in judgement. Taking a few moments to assess and evaluate the situation can help to a large extent. Stress is the sum total of pressure, tension, strain, anxiety, pain, and what have you. Best to keep it at bay!

7. How have you been unwinding during this pandemic? ?

Even though we are working from home, not a lot has changed in terms of how we work through the week and unwind on the weekend. However, work tends to spill over post office hours. It’s a tad bit challenging to unwind given the fact that activities like going to the movies or eating out have been shackled. However, I try to work around the obstacles by spending more time with my family and going out for long drives with no destination in mind on the weekends. I love to cycle and try to maintain a routine of walking and cycling four times a week. OTT subscriptions have eased the lockdown, and I have also stocked up all my pending reading material to catch up on.

8. What do you do for fun?

I love to travel. I seize every break or opportunity to take a short or long vacation. I enjoy adventure sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, etc., and partake in a lot of short treks. Absorbing new places, imbibing new cultures, experiencing outlandish ways of life are what keeps me going. I travel with my family a lot. I also enjoy listening to good music, reading books, and cycling or playing tennis on weekends.

9. What is your mantra? What drives you?

There is no such thing as the perfect destination or a textbook ending. It’s always the journey that drives us. There are endless opportunities and possibilities in emerging India. The aspiration to excel and the promise of continuous learning helps me gain new experiences. I believe in navigating the crevices, and giving my best! These keep me going with a positive attitude to life.