31 October, 2020

Greatness: A Composite Greater Than Numbers

Promoter-professional, public-private, past-present...how competing binaries were resolved in our quest for the final 50.

Illustration by Sajith Kumar
Greatness: A Composite Greater Than Numbers

When Outlook magazine approached me with the idea of creating a jury to select India’s 50 best CEOs, my first thought was, “These guys are nuts. It can’t be done.” How do you wade through an ocean of names to truly pick the 50 best, especially if some of them may alre­ady be resting with the morning angels? But soon after I had fobbed off the Editor with a non-committal reply, some names started pop­­ping up into my head. Surely, a business like Infosys could not have been created without a great CEO or progenitor? Could HDFC Bank’s extraordinarily consistent results for a quarter century be the result of providence and not great leadership? How does an ISRO become one of the world’s most competitive and efficient satellite launchers (at the time of writing, its record of launching 104 satellites in one go still stands) despite being a government outfit? Surely, leadership had something to do with it?

When we look behind the great success stor­ies, names start bubbling to the sur­­face. And it no longer...



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