What opens doors? The right alma mater does; the right skills too. But what also works is having the right company names on your CV. A stint at a Unilever, Marico, Pepsico or Britannia can pole-vault an executive to top management like few other assets. Take Sunil Duggal, MD and CEO of Dabur India, who was picked up from Pepsico. As was Prakash Iyer, MD of Kimberly Clark in India. Sunil Sood, COO of Vodafone India, Varun Berry, MD of Britannia India, and Manu Anand, MD of Mondelez (formerly Cadbury) India—all had previous stints at Pepsico.
This elite network is endless. Vinita Bali, MD, Britannia, was earlier with the Tatas, Cadbury India and Coca Cola. Cadbury itself roped in Manu Anand from Pepsico, while this September, Dunkin’ Donuts India got Prashant Sarwade as head of marketing and branding. He’d previously worked for both Britannia and Cadbury in India.
“A Levers, Britannia or Pepsico would have given more CEOs and COOs to most Indian and many global companies than any other group,” says Lloyd Mathias, an independent consultant who has worked with Pepsico. He puts it to what these companies do—give execs a business sense with strong roots in India while playing by global management rules. A ‘passout’ from any of these companies would have worked on the field, not just in offices for starters. He would have got hands-on experience in marketing, branding, franchise and almost any other company function. “I think the special factor in these companies—and this I experienced at Unilever in my early days—is that you got rotated around job descriptions. You got a 360-degree view. In Pepsico, it was different: they let you be almost like a CEO of the territory you handle,” says Iyer.
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