Business Today

Cover story | January 11, 2009

'The best advice I ever got'

BT asks the who’s who of India’s corporate world—as well as some professionals and leaders from other fields for good measure—to jog their memory and recall the best advice they ever got. What the advice was, who gave it to them and when, and how it helped them.

January 11, 2009


2008‚??The year that changed investing

2008’s extreme wealth destruction put wealth managers in a spot of bother. BT surveys their market strategies, and what they learned from the crisis.

In This Issue

Good employee Ver. 2009

While the good old rules of work, such as high aptitude for learning, innovative mindset and sound functional knowledge never went out of fashion, this is the time to go the extra mile to stick to them. Report by Saumya Bhattacharya & Tejaswi Shekhawat.

Retrospectives: Best of Business Today

BT’s Anniversary Specials… …have not just been chronicling the travails and triumphs of India Inc. but also been guiding and setting the agenda for it. Here’s the proof:

'The best advice I ever got'

BT asks the who’s who of India’s corporate world—as well as some professionals and leaders from other fields for good measure—to jog their memory and recall the best advice they ever got. What the advice was, who gave it to them and when, and how it helped them.

Trends of 2009

It was as way back as the October of 2007 that rating agency Standard and Poor’s had predicted that the US subprime housing crisis would not peak until 2009. If a global downturn that’s deepening by the day is any indicator, the S&P boys had got it spot-on.


We will take a re-look at everything we are doing

The New Year may prove to be a game changer, with many companies opting for radical measures.

We will start jogging: Trim flab, focus on efficiencies

Cutting costs—the right ones—and getting back to the core will be a mantra for many in 2009.

We will listen to our customer as we fight for market share

As supply exceeds demand in most sectors, companies have to get closer to the consumer than ever before.

We will turn a little more green (not with envy though)

Will India still be the world’s fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the New Year?

We will acquire to grow our business, but only with our own cash

Acquisitions will continue in 2009, but don’t be surprised if bankers aren’t pushing leveraged buyouts any more.

We will hire top talent and avoid mass firings

Layoffs are inevitable in 2009, but the slowdown may be a great opportunity to hire quality talent at reasonable terms.

We will worship cash

Despite the apex bank’s efforts, liquidity remains a concern. Cash will be king for some time to come.

We will join the fight against terror

Corporate India suddenly finds itself confronted with a new challenge—of protecting its establishments.

We will grease less palms, especially abroad

Corruption is the biggest hurdle to the country’s progress. Can we begin to mend our ways in 2009?

We will work with the other India

Inclusive growth needs to become much more than just a seminar-friendly buzzword.


Subprime alphabet soup

A BT primer on words that entered and exited the business lexicon.

2008's most sold

BT culled India’s top-selling business books of 2008 from the country’s leading publishers. The result was an eclectic mix that ranged from management tips dispensed by global gurus to studies on consumer behaviour.


Change agents 2008

Battered. Is that the right word to describe Ratan Tata now? The man, who could do no wrong after the twin buyouts of Corus Group and Jaguar-Land Rover, is suddenly looking more human.

In the hot seat

ICICI Bank’s new MD & CEO has her task cut out in these volatile times, but she might just be the right person to take on this challenge.

Watch list '09

Swati Piramal, 52, Director, Piramal Healthcare, will be the first woman at the helm of any apex chamber in India when she takes over as President, Assocham, in 2009.

Leadership Spotlight

10 awards that will never be given

Silly season is upon us, and the awards are being handed out left and right—to entrepreneurs, enterprises, politicians, just about anybody in the public eye. So, we thought we’d join in with a few nominations of our own.


Global meltdown: Cure for the crisis

Four words—complexity, inflexibility, speed and scale—set the current crisis apart from the previous ones. Robert F. Bruner offers antidotes for all four.

Economy: As globalisation spread

India is more globalised than it imagines it is. The government and the people will have to accept this fact to better understand and respond to the global crisis.

Technology: Tomorrow's toys

Devices that respond to speech and gesture, lights that last 60,000 hours—2009 will have its own share of innovations.

Automobiles: A hybrid year

Honda’s Civic Hybrid may not have been a runaway success, but 2009 promises to be a year of hybrids.

Campus recruitment: The audacity of hope

Students are no longer worried about the pay-packet being offered, but whether the campus recruiters will appear with a mandate to recruit, says Sharadh Manian.

Jobs and salary: The big freeze

Barring a few, virtually every sector is cutting down on hiring. It will be a long winter for jobs and wages in 2009.

Corporate governance: The strange case of Satyam

Codes of corporate governance are only guideposts. When you deviate, the press and activist shareholders must rap your knuckles, says Omkar Goswami.

Corporate goverance: Get up, stand up

Shareholder activism has been an unheard of phenomenon in India, until a clutch of Indian promoters gave investors a chance to flex their muscle in 2008.

The I-bank shuffle

As outbound deals dry up, the I-bank league tables throw up new names at the top. Theme for 2009: Domestic consolidation.

Quotes of the year

The world of business has seen more ups and downs in 2008 than there are on a Himalayan trek. Not surprisingly, leaders from the world of politics and business were surprised by the dramatic turn of events, making statements that, in retrospect, made them appear a little out of their depths.

Most talked-about CEOs of 2008

From the Murdochs to the Tatas, CEOs of the most influential companies in the world have always been in the news. The CEO’s reputation is critical for a company to remain in good health. Beginning this issue, every month Business Today will highlight the top CEOs who were in the news during the preceding month.

The big moves of 2008

Just when you thought they were well-settled in their existing roles, these few good men and women decided to make a splash.

In numbers: The best of times

The year gone by witnessed unprecedented highs as well as new lows in the world of business. A few snapshots of 2008 in numbers.

Oil price: Bounce ahead?

Oil prices fell as sharply as they had risen in ’08, making it the best news of the year-end. But supply and cost considerations point to an upturn in 2009.

Eventful past, bright future?

BT takes a close look at sectors across the economy, noting the big events and placing on record the expectations for 2009.

Stock market: Is the worst over?

Despite the slowdown, the market remains cautiously optimistic about a bull surge in 2009 on hopes of an economic recovery in the second half.

Telecom: 3GFinally.4GNotTooFar

It has been talked about for months. Now the 3G network is on the verge of arrival in India. But it could also be the 4G straightaway.


Best of BT: Past and present

A small selection of images and statements from our past issues to reflect on the journey since liberalisation.

Why you need a cash lab

Industry observers say that India Inc. is in much worse shape than it currently appears. Bloated with debt and hobbled by a severe slowdown, Indian firms need rapid cash generation.


We saw the first ominous signals on the horizon: Sanjay Nayar

When you are heading the world’s largest bank’s India operation, and that too in an unprecedented year for the financial markets, the job is not just about securing deposits, giving loans or doing mergers and acquisitions.


Terror most foul

Terrorism exacts a heavy social and economic toll and India has paid dearly for it (BT cover, December 28). The Mumbai terror attacks have inflicted deep psychological wounds that will prove hard to heal.


Pining for that hole in one

So what if it was a working day? Nothing like a round of competitive golf at Tolly to sharpen your focus for the next week! Somnath Dasgupta reports.

Editor-in-Chiefs note

From the Editor-in-Chief: January 11, 2009

Modern business has lots to learn-and lots to learn from. Management education is getting better and more accessible. There are more management books and journals today than ever before.

BT More

Gumbo jumbo

From the kitchens of the European aristocracy to the one pot-meals of the peasantry, Cajun and Creole cuisine is a rich story of spice and culture.

Retro rules

Sometimes all you need after a hard day at work is cold beer and a soundtrack that takes you down memory lane.

Ace of clubs

There’s work and there’s play. And then there’s the life of nightlife impresario Jay Singh, founder of Shiro, IndoChine and the F-Bar and Lounge.

Chteau salvatore

Ferragamo is known the world over for its shoes and bags. But wine? Anamika Butalia samples the latest in a trend of high-end brand diversification.

Wine of the times

It’s not for nothing that fat bastard is one of the most popular labels. It’s easy to remember.

Men are uncomplicated compared to women

Each month, we ask a beautiful woman about men, sex and relationships. This month, it’s Shamita Singha, supermodel, television anchor and brand ambassador for Diageo’s wine. She lives in Mumbai and she won’t say whether she’s dating at present.

The best of 2008

As the only Indian member of the highly regarded Connoisseur group, the Malt Maniacs, Krishna Nukula tasted over 300 whiskies in 2008. Here is his top ten.

A whole Nother Cali

There’s more to Southern California than Hollywood Boulevard and The O.C. Take a road trip off the tourist trail and you’ll discover the raw, eccentric beauty of the Golden State.

Moving meditation

It’s 170 years old but it could well be your prescription for the future. Tai Chi Chuan is backed by scientific research, and promises a multitude of benefits.

Dream on, dreamer

In 2009, all eyes will be on Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal as usual. But don’t forget Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia.

Nikka time

When Nikka’s Yoichi 20 yo won the World Whisky Awards’ highest accolade —Best Whisky of 2008—the arrival of Japanese malts was complete. And it all started with just one man, eighty years ago, taking off in a little boat.

India's affair with whisky

Malt cruises, tastings in perfumeries, whisky spas—India’s passion for high-end whisky is blooming in all kinds of exotic directions. Just imagine if the stuff was freely available…

Dinner at the Ambassador's

Sandeep Arora is India’s only qualified ambassador of whisky. When he invited MORE to his home for a one-on-one appreciation, there was only one response. And 24 malts later, only one way it was going to end.

Lust, caution

Corduroys are your best bet this winter for generating versatile looks. We go through six looks for the season, in which wide wales are pitted against narrow wales—let’s see who gets the girl.

Beyond Lutyens‚?? Delhi

A new book takes a fresh look at our nation’s capital and discovers some thrilling architecture out there. And not just the old stuff either.

Calendar for January 2009

What’s new and what’s happening this month.

Hot buys

Kick off the new year with a shopping spree. It not only feels good, it’s good for the economy, too.

Touchy feely

It’s all about touch in 2009. But then what—a phone that can detect your mood, order you a cab, even steer your love life?

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

The Connoisseur's phrasebook

Things to say at a tasting.

Whiskipededla the free Encyclodeia

Every connoisseur starts somewhere. If you don’t know the basics, then start here with our very own Whiskipedia.

Launch pad

Your mini-magazine at the front with everything you need this month from events, luxury, arts and culture to cars, tech and how to sign up tiger woods...

Tagging Tiger

How do you get Tiger Woods to endorse your brand? We asked Jean-Christophe Babin, President & CEO of TAG Heuer.


Rimi B. Chatterjee talks about the Kolkata Book Fair.

Hot buys

Kick off the new year with a shopping spree. It not only feels good, it’s good for the economy, too.

Hang It on the wall

Who says that music cannot exist both as entertainment and art? A look at three bands that blur the lines between pop and the avant garde.

Beyond Disney

Animation is not just for kids any more. In fact, it never was.

Books that shaped my life

Every issue, we ask a prominent businessman about the books that made them the people they are today. This month we ask Shantanu Mukerji, General Manager of Zegna South Asia.

Touchy feely

It’s all about touch in 2009. But then what—a phone that can detect your mood, order you a cab, even steer your love life?

Easy, Tiger

For power, danger and terrifying speed, there’s nothing better than a superbike. Just go slow the first time out. They weren’t kidding about the ‘super’ part.

Gut reaction

You don’t quite understand what ‘fast’ is until you face a doped-up Pakistani fast bowler or an European supercar.