Faces of IIMB – Manoj Chakravarti

We are introducing a new section in the newsletter. The intention of this section is to introduce the people, who work behind the scenes, meaning the very backbone of the institute – the staff members. The institute relies on its staff members for a smooth and effective working system.

As students or alums, you would have interacted with these members from time to time. This section highlights the contribution made by them. 

Manoj Chakravarti, COO, Centre for Corporate Governance & Citizenship (CCGC) Manoj Chakravarti joined the Institute on 1st August 2008 as Chief Operating Officer at Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship on a part-time basis. The CCGC Centre, which was set up in 2003, was amongst the first to be accredited as a Centre of Excellence by the National Foundation for Corporate Governance (NFCG). Manoj, as COO of the CCGC Centre, had actively worked on various activities viz., Advocacy, Education, Training, Research and Dissemination.

Manoj is definitely one of those larger than life figures. He gives you a feel of ease while giving one a glimpse of the enriching life experiences. IIMB bids you farewell but I am sure that the adventurer in you, still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and family?

About me:  Born in Kanpur, a family of 5 – Mum, Dad and 3 brothers. Eldest bro-Barun, was an M Tech. from IIT Kharagpur, became a technocrat, second brother-Ashim, -a Major General (Doctor in the AMC) and me, meandering thru Scindia School Gwalior, then into St. Stephen’s College Delhi and a Post Graduation from there, attending the Delhi School of Economics, with a Masters in Economics.

What was your profile before taking up your role at IIMB?

Became a boxwalla(Company executive) at a Brit Company in Kolkata(then Calcutta) -India Foils Ltd- a subsidiary of British Aluminium and R.J.Reynolds, USA.   Kolkata was the mecca of major multinational Companies at that time, but worked in Cal, Delhi, and Mumbai(then Bombay). Quality of life of a young executive then, was super duper, as anyone of that era will tell you. Low money income, but high real income, with perquisites and club-membership thrown in aplenty- spent 13 years there. Workwise then migrated to the Middle East (Muscat) and joined one of the largest Groups there-the Bahwan Group. Headed the Watches and Accessories Division, with a host of foreign Principals -Seiko/Casio/Alfred Dunhill etc.etc.  Worked there till 1996 and returned, after 13 years, back to India to join  the Tata Group- Titan Industries -as General Manager-Retailing. Set up their retailing world-‘The World of Titan’- then headed their European Ops , became Veep (Vice- President ), and superannuated in 2007 but continued working there as a Senior Advisor-looking after Governance, Ethics and Sustainability. Great experience, Great Company and Wonderful people, with unparalleled leadership experiential learnings from Xerxes Desai and Bhaskar Bhat. Then again, after a mystical 13 years, there was an exciting opportunity at IIMB, as Chief Operations Officer at the Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship- a different pitch and weather conditions!  The Tata Group, I feel, had provided me with the appropriate background and ammunition, to do just justice to this new and exciting role.

Your journey at IIMB. And how was your experience at CCGC?

 I must say that my experience at IIMB-Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship, was exhilarating. I made great friends, gathered a quasi (pseudo-as some may say??) academic aura, and really, the process of learning never stopped!  We endeavored to focus on clearly identified objectives -Advocacy/Teaching & Training/Research and finally Dissemination thru our dedicated website www.teachcsr.com . Our signature Leaderspeak dialogues, inviting leadership czars from Industry, the Public Sector and Academia, were events to look forward to. I must mention that the cooperation received by the  Faculty Advisory Committee, was complete in every respect and the guidance received from the 3 Chairpersons- Professors Vasanthi Srinivasan, Rejie George and S. Raghunath, was exemplary.  My Research Associate colleagues, who were seconded to Projects from time to time- Prabeetha, Asha, Nicole, Sanjana and Parvati, were nothing short of brilliant and added an intellectual halo to the Centre!  I really had an enriching experience, so different from the Corporate world, which of course, had its own excitement, full of targets, bottom line,  and growth and competitiveness. 13 seems to be my lucky number as I seem to have spent that many years at IIMB as well 🙂

How were your growing up years, your education? Any interesting incident that comes to mind?

Growing up years were great fun. I still miss the Chaat and the Thuggu Ka Laddoo and Moti Choor, from Kanpur. My obsession with Enid Blyton under the mango trees..sheer nostalgia..My Scindia School had its own share of a very different profile of students, many from the feudal lord families, carrying their own intellectual baggage and ‘ransom’ stories! Then onto St. Stephen’s, which of course, was the best college there ever was. Post graduation, had the intellectual participation of iconic and legendary Professors, like Joan Robinson, Jagadish Bhagwati, Amartya Sen, K.N. Raj, Andre Beteille, M.N.Srinivas, Tapan Ray Chaudhuri, et al. I  still treasure my Tutorials signed by such icons. Rubbed shoulders with the likes of Arun Maira, Montek Singh, Prabhat Patnaik and Deepak Nayyar!  I owe everything to them and what they did for me when I was a student.

What do you do in your spare time? Your hobbies, interests?

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Mr. Manoj with Mishti & Doi

My hobbies center around bonding with pets and playing the Piano. I am into Smooth Jazz and Blues. My father had purchased a Piano in “Cawnpore”, from one of the British Expats who was leaving The British India Corporation (a large Business House headquartered in Kanpur). Having bought a Piano, my parents insisted that I learn it. So I had to,  but passed the Trinity College of Music exams with Honours. Those Piano lessons, which were a real drudgery at that time, have now become a passion!  I am a movie and a Books buff as well, specializing in some genres like WW2 and the Le Carre kind of thrillers!

How will you spend your time in retirement?

Like life, Man should never decide on his retirement. As long as there is a positive contribution made to the organization, he should be allowed to contribute. But there have to be significant role changes from time to time, since what drives a person, changes dramatically over time. Having said that,  in the words of Amitava Ghosh, it is true that “we are all caught in the spiral of accelerated acceleration and we have to think about slowing down”. That actually to me means becoming more efficient….less effort but more output.  I am currently terribly busy setting up my dream- “The Centre for Ethics and Responsible Business-“, and the registration is in process. It aims to be an Advisory on the subjects using a web-based platform. A kind of an agony aunt for the Corporate World to address their dilemmas in these areas and to present to them that….. “Responsible Business is indeed very profitable and Business Ethics is NOT an oxymoron”!

What’s your message for young alums of today?

I am no one to offer any advice to the young alums.  But what I have learnt thru my meandering journey, is that there is no free lunch. The amount of effort and training that Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli or Amir Khan have to go thru, before they play or perform, is really humungous.  Sincere effort rarely goes unrewarded. And of course: Try and institutionalize the achieved excellence, wherever possible. So when the Cook leaves, the Recipe is left behind!