August 10, 2009

Bharti's "Professional Managed, Entrepreneur Supported" model

Extract from Sunil Mittal's interview to Forbes India:
When we started out, we were an entrepreneur-led, entrepreneur-promoted company. We did a great job. In some companies, this phase lasts forever. Nothing wrong. But in my view, if you do that, you remain small. You can’t manage a large company using this model. So we moved to the next stage — entrepreneur-led and professional-supported. Over the last four years, we’ve moved to professional-managed and entrepreneur-supported. And that’s where we want to keep it.

There is one more stage — professional-led and professional-supported. Vodafone is in this mould...No single shareholder is dominant...Parts of our organisation were moving to the professional-led and professional-supported model. I had to pull it back because I figured they were becoming too bureaucratic. Things didn’t move; too many approvals were needed; too many emails. That is something we want to avoid...You must feel like the deer in a forest, which is always afraid of being attacked. Else you’re dead.

...Entrepreneurs do it intuitively. For professionals, it is part process and part intuition. When we wanted to outsource our network, it was considered blasphemy. Akhil [Gupta] and I spoke about it many times. I know how many obstacles he had to face to take it through. Everybody was dismissive of the idea. Sometimes, seniors will not only say this isn’t good, they will work hard to ensure it isn’t good. I had to protect him. That’s where the professional-managed entrepreneur-supported model comes into play. I said let’s go...If I were a professional CEO and even if I had the guts to take on the board, I don’t think I would have got the approval. The board would have batted on the safe side.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at