Surina Sayal
Defining Moments

Defining Moments: A P Parigi: Magic moments

The veteran has played multiple leadership roles and excelled at each. He gave up work full-time in order to 'chase the rainbow', blending different learnings and skills, to make a beautiful success story.

Meeting someone with a career experience of close to 40 years brings up visions of a forbidding demeanour and a certain haughtiness. But, meeting A P Parigi is as easy as chatting with a friend. No wonder, his colleagues in the industry refer to him as a 'people's person'.

Parigi has to his credit success stories like BPL Mobile in 1995, Radio Mirchi, Times OOH and 360 Degrees.

Defining Moments: A P Parigi: Magic moments
Describing the key highlights of his life, he says, "The fabric of defining moments is woven around a simple philosophy of life: "No mountain too high, no path too rough, no distance too long..."

One big defining moment in my life was shifting to a category called 'mobile telephony', after 23 years of having worked in the construction and engineering industries. As the CEO (chief executive officer) of BPL Mobiles, I had the great opportunity of building a category and brand that was completely new to India.

When I look back now, a defining moment was how we dealt with a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity in markets, consumer behaviour and government policies. Technology and markets were opening up, government policies were being redefined and fine-tuned. I feel very fortunate that I was part of all the action -- whether it was revenue sharing, or bidding processes.

In those early days, while using a mobile phone in the car, the driver would interfere with my conversation thinking that I was speaking to him! Today, the driver has a phone. I've had the privilege and the excitement of being a part of all this.

Then came Radio Mirchi. In my first meeting, I told Vineet Jain 'Let's take a shot' -- when he asked me how much I knew about radio. It was not a wild shot, but a planned, measured, systematic shot.

Here, the challenge was different. Should one hire people from AIR? Along with Prashant Panday, my first colleague at Radio Mirchi, I recruited people from non-media. At that time, both of us were from non-media, too. We said we will recruit energy, enthusiasm and attitude only.

I decided that we'd set up a company that is not just about empowerment and engagement, but one that would entertain our team members, as well.

We took our first team members -- about 17 people -- to the Infosys Campus in Bengaluru. I got permission from Nandan Nilekani and Mohandas Pai to use the premises and their boardroom for our strategy meeting. We just wanted to show our guys what Indian leadership and visionaries can do. We asked them to write (on a piece of paper) what they saw at Infosys in the last couple of days. I then collected those papers and said that's what we'll do at Radio Mirchi. The rest, as they say, is history.

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