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  Rajiv Verma

Finding renewal at Kellogg

Rajiv Verma AEP-99

By Kari Richardson

"No pain, no gain" is a philosophy favored by Rajiv Verma, CEO of India-based HT Media Limited, who says renewal is key during a 30- or 40-year career, though it will likely cause some discomfort.

"Every few years you have to break out of your comfort zone and do something that is very, very different," he says. "This forces new learning and new experiences. It does cause a lot of pain, but that's the only way to grow."

Verma has closely followed his own prescription for success. Not only does his diverse work history include managerial positions at Whirlpool and Nestlé, it also includes stops in Thailand, the Philippines and Switzerland. This cross-industry, global mix has helped him lead HT Media Limited, the parent company of the Hindi-language Hindustan, and the English-language Hindustan Times, the newspaper founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1924, into a new era.

Since Verma joined the company in 2004, it has added an FM radio station called Fever, an employment portal called Shine and the business publication Mint, which shares content with the Wall Street Journal.  With each new leadership role has come the chance to integrate past learning into a new setting. "When you change positions, you bring best practices from one industry into another," he says.

Since his arrival, Verma has helped HT Media define its most important core values. The completed list, compiled with help from employees at all levels of the organization, includes responsibility, creating an employee-centric culture, and — perhaps most appropriately in a company where Verma is leader — courage and self-renewal.

Time spent at the Kellogg School in 2001, where he completed the Advanced Executive Program (99th Session), presented another sought-after opportunity for renewal: a midcareer sabbatical that served as a chance to learn and reflect.

"For me, the time I spent at the Kellogg School was clearly a change point," he says of the period before he assumed his current role at HT Media. "My career moved much faster after Kellogg."

And this career move, he says, has been the best change so far.

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