Economy

‘Like golfers, entrepreneurs must carefully craft strategies, reading the course and competition’

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on February 14, 2020 Published on February 15, 2020

Sanjay Kumar, MD & CEO, Elior India

Elior India chief draws parallels between running a business and a game of golf

Some start-ups tend to strictly follow a business plan, while others operate by the seat of their pants. Entrepreneurs need to carefully craft their strategies, says a senior executive, much like the game of golf.

Entrepreneurs are, by their very nature, legendary problem solvers, according to Sanjay Kumar, MD & CEO of Elior India, a subsidiary of France-based Elior Group, a contract culinary services company and a global player in the food services industry.

An avid golfer, Kumar thinks a sport like golf can help an entrepreneur create better strategies, have a plan to reach the goal by the third attempt and learn to accept uncontrollable bumps along the journey.

Golf is a sport that does several things: it centres one against the brutal reality of alignment, teaches self-control, requires one to accept the random forces of nature, and most importantly, is backed by sound scientific research.

Further, continues the CEO, the game is played against the golf course and not each other, much like what an entrepreneur should do.

With a national footprint spread across Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, Elior India serves around two lakh freshly prepared meals every day to Fortune 500 and multinational companies.

“The interesting part about golf is that it is phenomenally distinctive than every other sport. In most other sports, a shuttle or a ball is being flung at a person and an instinct reaction happens to push it back towards or beyond the defined boundaries,” Kumar told BusinessLine on the sidelines of an entrepreneurial leadership conclave.

So, the success of the achievement depends on the “instincts, reactivity and the way a person’s muscles reflect at the situation. This means that the time to think and plan is very less. Whereas, golf is just the opposite and more about playing with a stationary pole. It involves planning of the shot ahead of addressing it, much like how an entrepreneur addresses a business problem at work”, he adds.

Key aspect

An entrepreneur’s most important aspect of growth is alignment, and though alignment in golf and business are simple concepts, they take years of courage and willingness to learn.

Just as high handicappers in golf tend to stand on the tee box and hope to hit a fairway, some pros start at the pin and figure out what shot they need to make to get close to their target. The CEO says it is imperative to start at the pin, and know from which location one has to putt.

“It is about thinking in accordance to individual strategies, working on the implementation and not just reacting to something being flung at you. In corporate life, it is very important to action the strategies knowing what are the risks involved, which results in making a huge difference in the life of an entrepreneur,” says the CEO.

Throughout the planning process, golf champions are keenly aware of everything that could affect their target: be it wind direction, speed, hazards, slope, grain, or trees. It is essential entrepreneurs plan their business this way, says the official. Kumar was earlier part of the Royal Dutch Shell Group for over 18 years, and was a member of the Global Leadership Team that reported to the CEO and board of Royal Dutch Shell.

Published on February 15, 2020
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