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Venky Padmanabhan: Dancing with Elephants

Royal Enfield's CEO talks about what helped him in this challenging position


I have just taken over as the CEO of Royal Enfield. Three publications have helped me immensely in this challenging position.

While taking up this job, I remembered Louis V. Gertner Jr., who, in 1993, took over as CEO of IBM, a company that refused to change and a brand on the verge of dying. He steered it into an incredible turnaround.

His book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround is not written by a theoretician but someone who accomplished a great feat. This adds a lot of value to it. It is a commentary on the fact that it is not important to have a fancy vision statement but to have a well thought out, executable strategy.  

The Harvard Business Review on Change — a collection of eight essays — is also helping me at this point in my career. It is like a book of short stories, with each chapter unique in itself. It has helped me plan my first 100 days as CEO. The third book is The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan. It is about the importance of having the right people working in your company.

Venky Padmanabhan is CEO of Royal Enfield
(As told to Shaista Bharwani)