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Hard work is the shortcut to success!
Ravi Prasad |
March 16, 2005
avi Prasad wanted to become a doctor.
He even got admission in the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune.
The medical test revealed a back problem and he was disqualified for the Army Commission.
Today, at 44, he is president and CEO, Himalaya Herbal Healthcare.
Here, he recounts his career highs, suggests tips for management students and offers a glimpse into careers in the beauty and cosmetics industry:
I was disqualified for the Army commission, so I did my graduation in Physics at St Xavier's College, Ranchi.
I then worked at Alken Laboratories for a while, before I decided it would help my career if I had a formal degree in management.
I got an admission at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, Philippines. I had heard it was a very good management school, as it was started by Harvard.
Studying at the Asian Institute of Management was a different experience because, unlike in India where we cram and memorise, everything was based on case studies and class participation.
In India, you tend to study a month before the examination. There, you had to be regular, and there was no pressure on memorising. You are expected to understand the concepts -- it was very refreshing for me.
Studying at Manila helped me learn to bond, build teams and understand situations from a commonsense point of view.
I moved to Himalaya in 1990 as a Training Manager. I chose Himalaya because I believed in herbal remedies and was sure of herbal products dominating the world scene.
The branding of Himalaya took place four or five years ago, after I became the president and CEO. This is how it came about:
- My first strategy was to put everything under the Himalaya brand.
- The chairman, Meraj Manal, and I then decided to widen the product range.
- We brought about the concept of herbal wellness.
- We also advertised heavily to establish the brand.
What I learnt
The high point of my career was working with Meraj Manal.
He taught me to think from the consumers' perspective. We tend to become a little inward at business schools, but he made me think of the consumer first. It was my biggest learning.
I would attribute my rise to hard work.
My goal is to make Himalaya a global herbal leader, a world class brand.
What I would tell young management aspirants
i. Try for the Indian Institutes of Management or a premium management school. Nothing else.
There are quite a few such good schools in India.
ii. There are no shortcuts to success.
Work hard, go out and experience the world. Let the working environment be your teacher.
Opportunities in the beauty industry
There is a great opportunity for youngsters in this industry because it is an interesting industry to be in.
Innovations, new developments are happening every day. A youngster will find it easy to do new things and grow.
The world is taking to herbal products. Both doctors and consumers are moving to herbal products.
As for career opportunities, drugs and cosmetics companies employ people in the technical and business streams.
~ Technical stream
Go for opportunities in the R&D sector.
You must have done a Ph D or Masters in Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry or Botany.
Those who have specialised in formulations can also look at opportunities in this industry.
The technical stream includes quality assurance, product planning, production planning, etc.
~ Business stream
The divisions that you can look at include pharmaceutical, personal care, consumer health, animal health, etc.
Qualities to succeed
1. Are you passionate about your job?
That is the first criterion I look for in a candidate. I believe that without passion, you can't do your job well.
2. Do you have team spirit?
S/he must be a team player. That is most important to me.
3. Are you articulate?
4. Do you have a business qualification?
It is a not a strict criterion, but an MBA is an added advantage.
Ravi Prasad spoke to Shobha Warrier
Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj