“In the private equity world, you have to move very fast. You have to bring change much faster,” says Shiv Shivakumar, the former Nokia India and Pepsico India chief, who joined global PE firm Advent International as its Operating Partner on April 15. Though Shiv, as he is popularly called, has been a large company man, he has always displayed nimbleness, ability to adapt and kept a close eye on the changing consumer, who he says is far more demanding now.
At Advent, which has publicly announced its intention of investing $5 billion in India and Asia, Shiv will not only be advising on investments but also mentoring the portfolio companies. “A PE firm looks at the 3 Cs — country, company and category (sector),” he says. He believes that monetisation comes through building a stronger brand. Just financials are not enough. And brand building in this age requires a nimble mindset.
“In the last 20 years, most big market leaders in India have lost share to smaller, nimbler companies,” he points out, describing how the old business models have become outdated, and savvy consumers are forcing companies to change. “The old business model was a product-led model — now you have education-led and service-led models,” says Shiv, widely acknowledged as one of India’s foremost marketing and management thought leader. Interestingly, the Bengaluru-born leader had studied aeronautical and mechanical engineering at IIT Madras — a far cry from marketing — but his seniors told him he had managerial capability, and that’s how he headed to IIM Calcutta, and later to Wharton.
Shiv, whose last assignment was with the Aditya Birla group, has always been a voracious reader. At IIM, he had read up literally every book in the library and also on his own steam corresponded with the leading thinkers of the time, toying with the idea of doing a doctorate in management. But he abandoned it as he felt that he wanted to be a practitioner rather than an academician, joining HUL, where he worked 19 years.
Shiv, a huge cricket buff, generously shares summaries of everything he reads. “Rather than accumulating knowledge for yourself, if you share that knowledge, your influence grows,” he says.