- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Roli Books; 1st edition (April 10, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8174367659
- ISBN-13: 978-8174367655
- Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,398,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Added Value-the life stories of Indian business leaders Hardcover – April 10, 2010
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When Peter Church planned a tome on the life stories of Indian business leaders, he wanted to keep the crooks and cowboys out. That s typically Aussie, minus frills and fancies. I sought and got the untold stories, says Church, who is currently in Delhi to promote his book, that follows a similar effort some years ago on tycoons in south east Asia. What he got on his plate is interesting: Zee telefilms head Subhash Chandra rattling his brothers by informing them that a handful of ads running on his channel in the initial days were free and brought in no money; and that they should not panic. Pint-sized hotelier CP Krishnan Nair of Leela Hotels being gifted a golden ring by a king so that he could sell it to a Chennai jeweller and get cash for his college studies, and Na garjuna Construction group head AVS Raju calling every half hour to check whether Church would be on time for his 1100 hours meeting. Apparently Raju, during his son s marriage, had done the same to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, who actually arrived on time. his office kept on calling me every 30 minutes and reminded me every time that Raju hates all those who arrive late. Church naturally understands Indian businesses the way they were once run, and are being run now. he believes the joint family concept is under increasing strain in urban India, even in successful multi-generational businesses one finds the new generation wanting to seek fresher pastures because the past does not excite them. And they have the advantage to build a huge global com pany in a finely focussed activity. But their parents were not lucky when they started. India won independence from colonial rule (he meant by kicking out the Poms) but got shackled in a draconian license raj. As Deepak Puri of Moser Baer says, it was like entering the ring for a game of boxing with both hands tied, laughs Church. He also says investors today are able, as never before, to plan opportunities involving businesses that exactly match their desired profiles of cash flows and risk. Perfect information, to him, is the key to growth, and all those he has profiled did so well only because they timed their moves well. Raghav [Bahl] got some great money in 1999-2000 that helped him shape his business, and see where he is today, says Church, adding that those he interviewed for his book had correctly assessed the current as well as the potential value of a company. Then they played those valuations off against the available market prices. Church calls it timing perfect timing that he sees as the common thread binding the business families of India and south east Asia. They all timed it well, he laughs. And as India is growing, it is being swept by a peculiar dog-eat-dog mania. Competition is getting tougher, as everyone is headed here. like him. --Tehelka, 24 April 2010
Up Close And Personal They always make business news, but chatty Australian Peter Church got these entrepreneurs to talk about their lives rather than their money. He got about an hour each, he says, with most of the 30 big-name Indian entrepreneurs (only two women!) he has profiled in this book. One hour is no time at all but it was all, in most cases, that these busy overachievers could spare to talk with this wandering biographer. It was enough time for Peter Church to draw his subjects out and collect the surfeit of anecdotes, personal and professional, upon which each of the life stories here is founded. Church is clearly a wily interviewer. In person he is as chatty as one imagines an Australian should be, and also inoffensively, even flatteringly inquisitive. He trained as a lawyer but travels around South-east Asia and India advising big companies on international business in the region whence his first book on the same topic, Added Value: The Life Stories of Leading South East Asian Business People (Asean Focus Group, 1999). Church says Indians are better raconteurs, and there is plenty of storytelling here: little tales of business glory, upbeat and miserable stories of joint family life, the pluses and minuses of licence raj, and so on. Although Church has put together an impressive set of people while deliberately, he says, staying away from some of the most familiar names (Tata, Birla, Mahindra, Ambani) his book is modest in style as well as purpose. Church narrates what his subjects tell him, more or less, so the result is as advertised, more soft life story than hard business biography. Nor are there any major lessons to be drawn, other than that it is important to recognise your own skills, do what you love, and always be practical-minded. Students may be reassured, and general readers will enjoy listening in. --Rrishi Raote, Business Standard, 17 April 2010
HUMANE PROFILES It's a different thing to read about business stories, and quite another to read about the lives of men who have shaped businesses in any sector. You wonder whether they had the most extraordinary of childhood or whether theirs were any different from the rest. Of course, the literary world does not fall short of biographies and autobiographies, but what makes Peter Church's Added Value: The Life Stories of Indian Businessmen different is that like short small stories, the lives of 30 Indian businessmen unfold with a beginning, middle and an end. The stories take you through the journey of their lives, the twists and turns of fate, and eventually overcoming the hurdles to become some of the greatest achievers shaping the business fabric of India. Sounds like an easy, familiar plot, but these stories of 30 Indian businessmen, based on interviews, are woven, quite dramatically, to produce an impact. Church devotes a few extra pages to the story of Captain C.P. Kirshnan Nair, chairman of Leela Palace hotels and resorts. It is interesting to note that Nair, upon finishing high school, had no idea what he wanted to do as he had no money too. But he remembered the generous offer of a local maharaja who he had managed to impress with his poem during the king's visit to his school. The maharaja was willing to sponsor his education, but with a rather bad financials, he still kept his promise and pulled off a big diamond ring from his finger. "This will be enough for two years of your education and if you have any surplus give the amount to another dependent of mine," he told Nair. True enough, with its proceeds, Nair graduated from the Madras Arts College in 1942, and approached the army recruiting office to find a job and support his old parents. He had to board a train to go to the North West Frontier Province, but with no money again, he decided not to eat on the train. The gentleman in his compartment offered him food which Nair refused saying he was not well. The good Samaritan insisted and bought him dinner and lunch and not only that, when he stepped down from the train thrust a Rs 10 note into Nair's pocket saying "Don't worry; I know you are broke." Nair begged for his address so he could return the money; but all he got was, "I don't want this returned, please give it someone you may encounter facing such a situation." For Nair, these were life changing moments. Many other prominent businessmen figure in Church's book. But only two businesswomen -- Shahnaz Husain and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw -- find mention. Of course, they are two diametrically opposite stories. Shahnaz was born into wealth and aristocracy, and married off at 15 years of age to become the owner of a cosmetics giant chain without even becoming a graduate. Shaw, with a secure but not wealthy childhood, was driven by ambition that led her to a master's in brewing programme that took her to as far as Ballarat, a small rural town outside Melbourne. "I spent my entire master's being the only woman in the course an, throughout my career, I have often been the only woman in the boardroom, I have become quite comfortable with that,' says Shaw. Unlike Shahnaz, she got married very late in life to a Scotsman with whom she shared among other things, an appreciation for arts and golf. Church ends with a story on scientist M.S. Swaminathan "as an exception to the rule in this book otherwise devoted to business entrepreneurs." The reason: without his work, not only many of these entrepreneurs would be where they are today, but India as we know it may not exist due to the possible inability to fee its people, says Church. Professor Swaminathan, in fact, studied Zoology in college, but the Great Bengal Famine in 1942 and the end of World War II led him to specialising in agriculture. The rest is history. --Business World, Laisram Indira, 28 June 2010
About the Author
Peter Church OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales, a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Sydney and a Masters of Laws degree from the University of London. He has spent almost all of his career working and living in the Asian region as an international lawyer and corporate adviser. He is a founder and Chairman of AFG Venture Group, a corporate advisory firm with operations in Australia, South East Asia and India. He was awarded the OAM in 1994 for his services to the promotion of Australian business in South East Asia.
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The book is an excellent primer for anyone seeking to do business in India, or just simply an interesting but easy read.