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This week’s guest on The xMonks Drive podcast is Mr. Rajesh Ramakrishnan. He enumerated some of his childhood experiences that have helped him form the value system today as an adult. The conversation escalates to building connections to knowing what is a perfect job and so on. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Childhood Shapes Adulthood 

How successful children are in getting along with their peers is linked to their behavioural, cognitive, and social skills. When a child is able to recognise and interpret others’ behaviour correctly, perceive them, then he is able to handle his own emotions, and select appropriate responses. 

Such development in childhood sets the foundation and structure of the value system that he would practice as an adult. Emphasising the role of childhood in his personality, Rajesh mentions, “ I grew up in a very, you know, humble kind of thing in terms of a typical middle class family living in a very middle class area in Chennai. Some of the values that got instilled in me right from the beginning, were around simplicity, but are around hard work, you know, dedication. So, I think those were the fundamental values which are there.”

Social roles may solidify during adolescence, but the trajectory is built from childhood. with some children in steady trajectories as popular, rejected or neglected. 

Connecting with people as a CEO

A leader in any role should be approachable. Mr. Ramakrishnan, as he speaks further in the conversation, talks about connecting with people. 

“I take being grounded, the humility, the simplicity, they all sort of go together. Even if you’re a CEO, or if you’re at any level, it doesn’t really matter. But I think your ability to for example, connect with people right becomes very, very critical.”

One way to look at it and say that I am a higher order person and sitting on a pedestal then connecting becomes less with people. For me, these values were instilled in me right from the beginning. That really helped me, for example, connect with people at that level across the organization. 

Connecting with people gives two things. One, it gives you a good sense of what’s going on in the organization and therefore, your ability to keep a pulse on the organization. And the second is it also gives you an ability to connect with people, inspire them and get them to put in their best. So I think in many ways it has an impact in terms of not just a personal connection, but ultimately, it also has actually a business impact as well. 

Rajesh also mentions his ability to connect with people of different cultures as an added bonus. “Some of the people I have met in my life while I studied in school as well. In a way, it opens up things at multiple levels. So one is getting to understand a different culture, getting to understand the different kind of environment. How to adapt yourself to that. Getting to meet people with very different perspectives, different languages, different food habits. So I think at multiple levels, it was completely different. And the whole, of course, process  took a while. But I think it starts teaching you something. And I’m glad I did it right at that stage because it then helped me over the years. One of the things that I feel good about is getting out of my comfort zone, being able to quickly adapt myself to different environments, etc.

Honest Answer to What is a Perfect Job

There has always been ideal definitions to everything. Is there an ideal answer to the question -What is a perfect job? We did ask this to Mr. Rajesh and here are his words of wisdom .

“The honest answer to that is I don’t know if there is a perfect job.” 

When I interact with some of the youngsters, I think that philosophy has changed.

For them, it’s no longer about investing long term to build a career in a certain way. I think a lot more people are looking at it a little bit more as gigs. I might be generalizing here, but I think that’s the direction they are moving. If they figure that the organization is not able to give them something, they’re very happy to chuck it and move on right now. I think that thing is coming a lot more. And in that context, if I look at it, I don’t think there is anything called a perfect job. And I know sometimes I do a lot of mentoring work for youngsters, and we talk about it. So the way I always articulate it is, it’s like my job is a function of x one x two, x three x four. So there are say seven things, which it is a function of, right? 

So for example, the role of the company and the culture, the manager, the team, the freedom, you get to work and of course, the money. So there are multiple sets of variables, and the satisfaction with the job is always a function of that, and you will never have everything. So you need then need to make a choice and in the final analysis, how does that equation stack up? For example, out of seven things, five things worked for me, and maybe one or two things is not exactly either way it is a good place to be.

About the Speaker: Rajesh Ramakrishnan

A veteran with 25 years of experience in General Management, Sales and Marketing, Rajesh Ramakrishnan is the Managing Director at Perfetti Van Melle India, the country’s leading confectionery player. Rajesh is responsible for the overall operations of the company for India and Nepal.

An accomplished business leader and a seasoned marketing professional, Rajesh has worked across categories like Personal Care, Household Care, Foods & Beverages, Confectionery and Media.  Under his leadership, Perfetti Van Melle, Bangladesh delivered sustained growth and achieved market leadership in 2016.

Prior to joining Perfetti Van Melle in 2014, he was the Marketing Head at HT Media Limited. He has also held senior positions in diverse corporations including Pepsico, Marico Industries and Reckitt Benckiser. Post his graduation in Engineering from BITS Pilani, Rajesh pursued his MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

Rajesh is an award- winning photographer. His work has been featured at Cannes and has also been published in several publications in India and outside. He is also passionate about travelling and has been on expeditions to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro.

Rajesh along with his wife and teenage daughter started an initiative – My Daughter is Precious [MDIP] in March 2015 to raise awareness about gender equality and support the education of the girl child. 

Rajesh is also a champion for gender equality and is a mentor for the past 4 years with BD foundation and is part of the BD Think Tank in Delhi NCR.

Tune into the xMonks Drive podcast today to catch up with Dr. Rajesh.