Chandramouli Venkatesan, marketing professional and author, passed away earlier this week. His former colleague, from many years ago, writes a memoir addressed to him.
I remember you joined Onida in 2001, a full 16 years after me. Although I had left Onida in 1992, you still called me to understand the genesis of Onida, the Devil, etc. I was at Philips then, yet there was no inhibition in your approach or in your desire to know the industry. We spoke for long and I found that you were an honest 'catalyst' and were pursuing the art of how to 'get better at getting better'. The title of your two books were exactly that.
After that we remained in touch off and on. When you joined Cadbury’s in 2005, you did not forget to inform me about your move. You were moving to your third industry, in your third job - from paints (Asian Paints) to TVs (Onida) to chocolates (Mondelez). You wanted to explore and know the subtle and stark differences in the marketing approach of various industries. Cadbury’s had just come out of the worms crisis and I remember you telling me that it will be a great opportunity to learn first-hand what role PR plays in the regaining consumer confidence.
Within Cadbury’s also you experimented with yourself as you chose to head the HR department. It was a good move as that is what was most dear to you. It also prepared you for the Managing Director’s role.
The urge to share your learnings was always extremely high in you. You sent me a personally signed copy of your first book ‘Catalyst’. By that time I was 11 years into my own entrepreneurship of Milagrow Robots, and I had called you immediately thereafter. Our talk was mostly about self-actualisation and the need to break free of the rat race. Professional egos can give you a high and it is exceedingly difficult to know when you have become a slave to name, fame, and the perks.
The book had captured the essence of the above.
The three biggest lessons from the book were:
1. Successful people focus more on personal growth than on getting promoted.
2. A boss who is more of a mentor than a manager is a catalyst for your career growth.
3. The hobbies that you choose in your time away from work help you become more efficient.
These are great lessons for any young or old professional. You have gone too soon; there was so much this generation of professionals could have learnt from you.
May God bless your soul with eternal peace.
(The author is founder and chairman, Milagrow Robots, and has worked at companies like LG, Philips, Electrolux, Reliance, Onida and Chellaram’s in the past.)