Some people stand out just by being unassuming. Sanak Mishra, chief executive officer (CEO), Mittal Steel India, is one of them. But his demeanour is deceptive. Beneath a completely approachable and non-CEO persona, lies a strong personality with a steely resolve to accomplish his job, come what may.
His colleagues at the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), where he completed his term as managing director, Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP)in 2006, recall how he completely changed the work culture in the plant.
A people's person, Mishra's management skills turned RSP around. He introduced a programme called Sanskar in the plant, where half a day every week was devoted to telling a representative class of workers, the status of the plant, its productivity and how the workers could make a difference.
The exercise was followed up by an open house session, in the true sense of the term. Workers could discuss their problems with their bosses and the management would take it up with their immediate superiors in the session itself.
Mishra along with his two executive directors would cover 400 people every week and within a year all the people remotely connected to the plant were heard and their problems solved on the spot.
Sanskar motivated the employees, which was what RSP required at that point in time, because it was not an outdated technology that was pulling down down the plant's bottomline, but the work culture. Thanks to Sanskar, people's mindset changed and deadlines became sacrosanct.
Mishra is known for his photographic memory. "He knew the deadlines he had set for different jobs, whether any one else ever remembered them or not. And he never had to jot them down anywhere. It was just there in his mind," a colleague fondly recalls. He built not just a plant, but a world class township, he adds.
Mishra took over as RSP's MD in 2002. He has more than 30 years' experience in the steel industry in SAIL and is also founder member of the R&D Centre for Iron & Steel. "He is an extremely serious person and does not mix business with pleasure," says a SAIL old timer.
But Mishra is not a single-faceted man and his determination extends even to leisure. He owns one of the most fascinating collections of old Hindi songs. Apparently, he keeps a slip in his pocket; it's a note with names of the songs that are missing from his collection and are must-haves.
So determined he is to replenish his collection that he is known to search high and low for old Hindi songs. "He will go all out to do justice to the mission he has set out to achieve," an old aide reveals.
Not surprising, given the way he has stuck his ground as far as the Chiria mines are concerned. As an ex-SAIL person, Mishra is fighting tooth and nail to get the mines leased out to SAIL, on behalf of Mittal Steel. A true professional, nothing comes between him and his work.