June 06, 2020
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"Nothing Is Cast In Stone. Perceptions Change With Time."

SEVENTY-TWO hours after being named the next ITC chairman, Yogesh Deveshwar's apartment, ten minutes walking distance from company headquarters, was overflowing with bou -quets. Deveshwar, the youngest to head an ITC factory (age:28), the youngest to

"Nothing Is Cast In Stone. Perceptions Change With Time."

You’ve won the battle with BAT. But it has left many people with bruised egos, who disagree with you on many issues. How will you carry these people forward in the interest of ITC?

I’ve neither won nor lost. I was in no battle.I don’t want to go into the past because going into the past is dysfunctional. And I haven’t said anything about anybody that should stand in the way of tomorrow. When I take over on January 1 as chief executive, I will take all initiatives that are in the larger interest of shareholders. I have cordial relations with members on the board. Differing perceptions will be there and I will work towards resolving differences. It is naive to think that there won’t be any disagreements among people. Though, so far, there has been far too little dialogue to say that there are disagreements.

The possibility of BAT putting a spoke in your scheme of things is high. How do you plan to counter that?

I don’t know BAT’s views on most issues first hand. But BAT has to support ITC, not me. I think their support should be issue based so that we can move forward. We need to have a greater dialogue between us, so that we can understand each other’s views. I don’t think there are any fixed positions. Nothing is cast in stone.Perceptions change with time and differences can be worked through.

Will the post of ITC vice-chairman be filled by a BAT nominee in an attempt to pacify it?

I wouldn’t like to pre-empt the issue with my views. I would be quite happy to go with the board’s view. The vice-chairman’s position in ITC normally occurs only when you foresee succession, or when you have a director who is going to retire very soon, and you want to acknowledge his work. It is not a position in the structure per se. When the last chairman took over in November 1991, there was no vice-chairman or second deputy-chairman, only directors. So there is no pressing need.

This sordid saga must have ruffled feathers and morale is probably low. How do you plan to tackle this?

It has been a distracting episode. The sooner we can get away from it, the better. Once media speculation is out of the way, a major part of the problem is over. It’s time we got down to productive work. If there are any ruffled feathers and diminished morale, any differing perceptions in relation to personalities, they need to be dealt with. We have to commence dialogue to elicit involvement and commitment.

What is your Vision 2000 for ITC?

My own views or vision are not relevant. When the board arrives at a collective decision on where ITC should be by the year 2000, that should be relevant and that would be the ITC view.

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