Business Today

Cover story | Feb 5, 2012

India's best-performing CEOs

India's best-performing CEOs

We present 25 top leaders of corporate India, who through long stints shepherded a range of companies and took them to greater heights. Visit INSEAD Knowledge for more insights into the CEO ranking and a video interview of Bala Vissa, one of the authors of the study.
The Top Six
Naveen Jindal | A.M.Naik | Y.C. Deveshwar | Bhaskar Bhat | Sunil Mittal | R. Sridhar | The other nineteen

How the ranking was created

We ranked best Indian CEOs based on the shareholder returns they generated during their tenure.

Naveen Jindal: Not your usual CEO

Do not go by the detached demeanour of Business Today's top-ranked CEO; he has transformed a tiny, ailing factory into a Rs 47,000-crore empire.

The unlikely leader - A.M.Naik

When A.M. Naik started out, his odds of getting a job at L&T were low. But the company's success owes much to his doggedness.

Driven to succeed - R. Sridhar

Over a decade, Shriram Transport Finance's R. Sridhar has created an ecosystem for commercial vehicle finance.

Long distance champs

The 19 of India's best-performing CEOs, who through long stints shepherded a range of companies in sectors as diverse as manufacturing, banking, fast-moving consumer goods, media, automobiles, pharmaceuticals and energy.

The timekeeper - Bhaskar Bhat

Titan Industries' Bhaskar Bhat has made India-manufactured watches respectable, providing investors undreamt-of returns in the process.

Mittal's mettle

Guts, smarts and luck have catapulted Sunil Mittal to the top of the Indian corporate sweepstakes. And, he is comfortably perched there.

From centre-half to referee - Y.C. Deveshwar

Yogi Deveshwar's crack team has converted every penalty corner into a goal.


Are non-convertible debentures better than company FDs?

The mathematics of return clearly favours company FDs and non-convertible debentures. As with any other investment option, the risk of losing money should be a key consideration here as well.

Editor's Note

From the Editor: February 5, 2012

Several weeks of discussion followed on an Indian version of the CEOs study with Balagopal Vissa, associate professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD's Singapore campus.

Reporters Diary

The big fat Indian wedding business

Indians spend $25 billion a year on weddings. Planners, chocolatiers and even software makers are gatecrashing the party.


The art behind a wow product

Want to create a success like the iPad or Nespresso? Demand has a bunch of good pointers.


People business

Starring: Ajit Singh, Sudha Natrajan, Ilene H. Lang, Bal Mundkur, Shiv Inder Singh, George Soros

Leadership Spotlight

Leaderspeak with Subhash Chandra

Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Entertainment Enterprises shares his leadership style.


How analytics firm Mu Sigma attracts investors

Analytics firm Mu Sigma, which dissects large amounts of data helping firms make sense of it, has gone from zero to $70 million revenues in six years and now employs 1,500; it expects to clock $110 million in 2012 with 2,100 employees.

Midlife Makeover: What prompts young CEOs to go solo

There are instances of people returning to salaried employment after an entrepreneurial stint. A trend of trying to break the mould as middle age approaches has begun and is likely to grow in the future.

Vishal Retail's fall has taught Ram Chandra Agarwal tough lessons

In 2007, when his Vishal Retail Ltd made an initial public offer, it was valued at Rs 2,000 crore. Few thought then that the company's rapid growth would not stay permanent, least of all the company's founder.

India goes football crazy, marketers rush to play ball

Football cafes that have sprung up around the country in the past couple of years are a symptom of the growing craze for football in a cricket-mad country.

Solar energy brightens future, can it end India's power woes?

India is sundrenched for more than 300 days a year and is ideally suited to use it. But the country has remained far behind Europe and the US, both in manufacturing and project capacities.


New wheels for old roads

The recently concluded 11th Auto Expo showcased interesting trends.


Reader's forum

The pain of breadwinners for no fault of theirs has been placed on record in BT's cover story, Pain, January 22. The Centre must craft strategies to change course into the positive channels of viability and development.

Best of the lot

BT receives scores of responses to its case studies. Below is the best one on the Royal Enfield's makeover (Nov 27, 2011).


From disabled to enabled

Technological advances are transforming the lives of the physically challenged.


Trust, but verify

Cultural influences affect business negotiations in the global village.

Case Study

Power management: How Gujarat leads by example

Gujarat's power sector was in a shambles in 2001, when Narendra Modi became chief minister. A decade later it is in the forefront of states that have carried out sweeping power reforms, as a result of which it now has surplus power.


11th Auto Expo: Who said what

We've never pushed it as a poor man's car. We pushed it as an affordable all-weather family car. Period. I don't consider it to be a flop. I consider that we have wasted an early opportunity, says Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons.

SEBI decisions to help listed firms meet minimum public shareholding norms

Two SEBI decisions will help listed companies, private and state-owned, meet minimum public shareholding norms.

SEBI cracks down on insider trading

SEBI is cracking down on insider trading by the big guns of corporate India.

Will the Food Security Bill add to India's fiscal crisis?

A majority of the respondents believes that it will. While guaranteeing food security is a laudable objective, the financial implications of the Bill are considerable.

A must-have iPad app - Flipboard

A must-have iPad app and another phone-cum-tablet

The 10 most watched ads of December 2011

This time around, Cadbury India has hit the sweet spot with five ads in the BT-TAM top-25 list.

A matter of interest

Interest paying ability of companies in the S&P CNX 500 falls to a five-year lowto high interest rates and a decline in operating profits, shows a study by CRISIL Research.

5 steps to here

Volkswagen, or VW, enters Indian market with Skoda. Assembly plant at Aurangabad set up earlier

The story behind Reliance's Network18 deal

After bailing out Eenadu's Ramoji Rao in 2008, the Mukesh Ambani-led company recently signed a convertible debt deal with Network 18. The deal makes for a potboiler. Here's why.

Rising NRI deposits add to RBI worries

Reserve Bank of India deregulated the interest rates on bank deposits aimed at the rich NRI in a late-December decision. The central bank's logic was if dollar inflows rise, the pressure on the rupee will ease. But the big question among monetarists and forex experts is the risk such a surge in NRE deposits poses.

Wordsmith: Firestarter

Firestarter means someone who exaggerates work situations and calls resolution meetings to emerge heroic.


Assembly polls will be held in seven states in 2012. Dates for the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa - being held between end of January and early March - have already been announced.


Roundup: Events of the fortnight

Infosys, India's second largest IT exporter, reported encouraging results for the third quarter ended December 2011.

Smart executive

Spinal discord

Doctors say earlier people were unaware of the health risks their office-ridden, computer-dominated lives posed. They recommend at the least a regular post-lunch stroll in the sunshine.

BT More

Are fad diets really worth a try?

Science or pseudo-science? Here's exploring a contemporary phenomenon that puts a radical spin on cutting back calories.

Mastering art of watchmaking

Crafted and calibrated to perfection, Ulysse Nardin continues to evolve the tradition and science of complication watchmaking.

New products in the market

The launch of a new range of whiskies from The Dalmore is guaranteed to push the traditional boundaries of excellence in whisky making.

Digital Technology: Problem of plenty

While technology promised to simplify life, it has instead made it more complicated. Wind your way through this digital labyrinth where there is a problem of plenty. The solution? Streamline rather than multiply.

Books that shaped my life

Sanjay Tripathy, EVP & Head Marketing, HDFC Life talks about the books that have made him what he is today.

Social Mores

Taking Manhattan's NoMad district from derelict to cool and spunky, a new 600-room hotel is all set to become the crowning glory of the area.

Take a look at smart cities

The city of the future is smart in every aspect; clean energy, super infrastructure and advanced technology. Take a look at what's to come.

Restaurant reviews: Silver Beach Cafe, AUMA, Amour

Silver Beach Cafe offers a warm setting and delicious food to kill a quiet day in Maximum City.

Shanghai's Fairmont Peace hotel welcomes all

The Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai welcomes luxury tourists, business visitors, and also time travellers.

The Gentleman Designer

The man who launched a million colourful striped shirts, Sir Paul Smith gets nostalgic about setting up shop in London in the 70s and about finally being cool with the multi-millionaire clothing impresario tag.

My stuff

Sula Vineyards' owner Rajeev Samant on his favourite things.


Do it yourself guide on talking on table, massage, stained glass art, working in India and many more.

Medical innovations that promise easy lives

Eight cutting-edge innovations in the field of medical science that promise to make our lives easier.

Health and wellness snippets

A recent study has found that those with low salt levels in their diet were actually at greater risk of cardiovascular death and congestive heart disease.

Fighting fit

Kalli Purie's memoir is a rollicking ride on the ups and downs of weight loss, and why it's all finally worthwhile.

How to save yourself from online fraud

Don't take online fraud lightly. As the stakes are getting higher and we show you how stay on guard online.

Pick the best app for yourself

Here's our pick of the best travel, fashion, gaming and luxury apps as millions of apps fight for space on our handheld devices.