Cricket is one of the most enduring passions of Indians, but till 2004 it was mostly men who watched cricket on the tube. However, Rajat Jain, the then CEO of Set Max India, realised that to earn advertising revenue he had to grab the eyeballs of women too, who were the target audience of many marketers. After much brainstorming and opposition, Jain decided to showcase cricket not only as a game but as an entertainment package – and the rest, as they say, is history. His decision to introduce Extraa Innings during the telecast of the matches, and introduction of Mandira Bedi as an anchor, proved a game-changer.
Presently at the helm of affairs at Xerox India, Jain speaks to FG about his passion for business, his management philosophy, and how he has taken calculated risks to push organisations towards achieving significant goals.
Tell us something about yourself. And how the middle class background, and top-class education, has influenced your personality, thought process and working philosophy.
I am from a middle-class, service background; my father was with the Indian Railways. We moved location extensively during my schooldays – I changed eight schools in ten years. The value system with which I grew up made me believe firmly that success can be created by one’s own effort, and education was the means to attain it. Education is our single biggest asset. These values spurred me to IIT Delhi,
and then IIM Ahmedabad. Secondly, I also realised the importance of respect, and how it plays a crucial role in our day to day lives. Respecting people and teams often translates into success. Lastly, my father taught me that honesty and integrity are non-negotiable, and this has stood me in good stead. As far as my working philosophy is concerned, I think it is sheer hard work and dedication to a goal that makes a person successful – by taking initiative, to get to the right platforms.
What are your plans for Xerox India, and how do you plan to take the company back to its original glory?
The most important goal is to transform the business from a purely product orientation to a service-led technology-driven business. This needs a change in mindset, culture, products and offerings – as well as the distribution network. The objective is to attain the leadership position in all segments in which we operate. We have the most comprehensive product range in the country, and are concentrating on offering print management solutions to our customers.
You have also spoken about creating happy organisations, and good places to work in.
It is not necessary to be a big organisation to create a happy workplace. Happiness quotient is also not linked to material facets alone. The culture of the organisation is critical. How are you respected; how do people work in teams; how is credit distributed; how tolerant is the company towards mistakes. Also, the reward and recognition plays an important role in influencing organisational culture. It is a combination of all these factors; and in my opinion, the creation of cross-functional teams—in which new ideas are appreciated and incorporated—leads to most happy workers.
The drive for people to work in a team comes from relishing collective responsibility and collective reward. One needs to balance the ‘I and We’; and although you can not always be democratic, it should be in the ratio of 20 to 80. It comes with experience. You need to understand what motivates whom, as one can not have the same yardstick for everyone.
What is your experience of the Indian working style?
Indian society is more relationship-driven, and operates in a grey area, as compared to the black and white of the West – where the process is very important. The people in the West are more disciplined, and value the importance of alignment. Indians are more flexible, understanding and accommodating as a race, and also individually – traits which we take to our workplace.
You have worked in different industries, and said that it is the situational analysis which makes a crucial difference.
It is true that the ability to move from one sector to another depends on how one learns and unlearns. One needs to keep an open mind and absorb things from everyone and from all sides. The key is to be willing to embrace knowledge, as also to learn from the mistakes we make. If we are open we can learn to manage complex situations, global pressures, and diversities. The key is that we need to learn how to learn.
Apart from business you have also been contributing towards the development of the Braj region around Mathura.
Braj Foundation is my passion on the social side. It aims to resurrect the glory of the Braj region, which was the home of Lord Krishna, and is mentioned in the Gita as his playground. The work being done by this Foundation is socio-economic and environmental. The goal is to revive the magnificent hills, forests and water bodies.
How do you see Gurgaon developing into a Millennium City. What do you think must happen in the City to make it more livable and secure for the residents?
I see Gurgaon as a very changed city, which has a lot of energy, a lot of diversity, but also a great disparity between the haves and have-nots. The challenge is to create a more homogeneous society, where the differences are not that extreme. Another thing which I see is that this City is constantly under construction, while it simultaneously faces multiple problems on the infrastructure front. I believe it is developing too fast. Another surprise to me is that this City is more expensive than even Mumbai in terms of cost of living; the rents are high, and property prices are skyrocketing. All this will put a question mark on its sustainability. It is important that the government and administrators plan and create a structure around which the growth and development takes place. Better planning could have ensured that the pangs of growth were managed better. The City will face social challenges, because of the rapid and unprecedented rise in wealth – both for the masses as well as classes. Having said that, I still believe in the Gurgaon growth story.
Rajat Jain is the Managing Director of Xerox India Limited, the world’s leading enterprise for Business Process and Document Management. In a career spanning 25 years, Rajat has worked in diverse sectors such as consumer, media and entertainment, telecom & technology – in both start-up organisations and established multinationals. Prior to joining Xerox India, Rajat was with Mobile2win India, a leading mobile phone value-added services provider, where he served as a Managing Director. He has also served as the Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Walt Disney India, and Executive Vice President at Sony Entertainment. He has held previous roles with ASC Enterprises, Benckiser and Hindustan Lever.