Varun Jaipuria, the 26-year-old director of RJ Corp and scion of the Jaipuria family, is set to join its flagship company Varun Beverages, which handles PepsiCo’s bottling business. He will oversee operations in the east and south, and the Goa region. He will eventually move to a larger role. “In a few years, I will be travelling 10-15 days a month to oversee bottling operations abroad, the way my father does now,” says Varun.
His father, Ravi Jaipuria, chairman of RJ Corp, had signed a licence agreement with PepsiCo in 1991 and, in two decades, the company has emerged as their largest bottler in South Asia.
Varun’s first brush with the company’s bottling business was in 2011, when he was sent to Sri Lanka to build the team from scratch (under the guidance of Sudin Gaonkar, who looks after 30 percent of RJ Corp’s bottling business). “I felt it would be good to learn business at a new bottling centre rather than an established one where everything runs smoothly,” says Varun.
Gaonkar says Varun has inherited his father’s people skills. “Building a good team matters a lot in this business because our [Coca-Cola and Pepsi] products are very similar and the big differentiator is the team.”
Varun is different from his father in the way he drives his team. While the senior Jaipuria is known to be a hard taskmaster, Varun is soft on people. “He doesn’t push people because he feels it might break them,” says Gaonkar, The challenge Varun faces is to take a Rs 2,500-crore company to the next level.