Popularly known as ‘Shiv’, the current chairman & CEO of one of the leading beverage companies, PepsiCo India, graduated from IIT Madras in 1982 with a B.Tech and went on to pursue an MBA degree from IIM Calcutta. Here’s a brief account of my interaction with the Distinguished Alumnus Awardee for 2016, Mr. D. Shivakumar.
Remembering his days at IIT Madras, Shiv says, “I entered this campus as a boy and grew into a man, prepared to face the outside world. IIT Madras teaches you a huge sense of community and teamwork. Each hostel has its unique culture.” Recalling his hostel life at Narmada, he says, “I realized the value of a good culture only at IIT Madras. The growth of Narmada hostel in culturals and sports was quite overwhelming. I was the happiest guy to learn of Narmada’s Schroeter win a couple of years after we passed out. After all, our efforts of moving the hostel from a counter culture unit to a better purposeful one had paid off .” He also remembers Mardi gras (now Saarang) as a huge talking point. He specifically mentions Just A Minute (JAM) and quizzing events, and remembers a couple of jammers from his insti days Like Abhijeet and Debjani.
Sports like Cricket, Tennis and Football have always fascinated Shiv. He has played cricket and tennis for IIT Madras in its years of glory, a period when IIT Madras used to dominate Inter-IIT sports meet registering 8 wins in a row. He is also a huge fan of English football club Manchester United. On any given day, he would love to watch a Manchester United match, and he remembers the dream team of 1999, the year when Manchester United became the first and only English team to complete the treble. Shiv also has close relations with Shahrukh Khan for his days at Nokia, which was a prime associate of IPL franchise KKR. He values all kind of sports mainly for the qualities like teamwork and determination.
Shiv has proven his mettle as a marketer across multiple brands in India’s best-run companies like PepsiCo, Nokia, Hindustan Unilever and Philips. Having worked with more than 50 brands, he has been integral to their growth. Through his commitment to innovation, new business models and ecosystem partnerships, the brands have grown in terms of sales as well as geographical diversity. Shiv has also been a student body representative during his insti life. He says, “A good leader is one who is a good learner, a team player and leads when necessary and follows when necessary. Also, the context in the situation sometimes builds the leadership skills in you. As an institute secretary at IIT Madras, I learned to bring people to work for a common cause relevant to the student community. Further, the learning curve here at IIT is very steep and one should make the most of it.”
One can clearly infer his fondness for reading (especially biographies) when he quotes personalities like Nelson Mandela, Sir John Harvey Jones, Jack Welch and many more in a go. Shiv believes that one should invest in himself, make time to pursue his/her interests like reading about such personalities may garner inspiration to achieve something bigger. Knowing his views on entrepreneurship, Shiv believes one should not be afraid to try and says that it’s great to see youth trying to pursue their passion. Entrepreneurs create new jobs which is very important for the growth of our nation.
Shiv has also loaned his time delivering lectures at leading B-schools including IIM Calcutta. He has also delivered a lecture at IIT Madras earlier and looks forward to collaborative research with the Department of Management Studies. During the interview, he also explained the consistency of a brand by taking an interesting example of the Bond movies. The Bond movies have evolved over time from cold war to the current way of storytelling. However, the music, technology and the journey to a new place still remain some of the highlights of a Bond movie.
On a closing note, I leave you with his message to students of IIT Madras. He says, “Choose your passion. Follow your dreams. When you work hard and don’t enjoy it , it will only create stress. So, enjoy what you do. Enjoy your work because the start may not be in your control but the end is. You can decide where you want to be after your life at the institute.”