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‘Nobody is interested in hearing gyaan’: MG Motor India's Rajeev Chaba

Chief executive emeritus at MG Motor India, Rajeev Chaba, on mentorship and the need to stay 'sane'

Rajeev Chaba, chief executive emeritus at MG Motor India.

By Shail Desai

LAST PUBLISHED 08.04.2024  |  03:00 PM IST

On the advice of his father, Rajeev Chaba decided to pursue a mechanical engineering degree in the early 80s from the Madan Mohan Malviya Engineering College in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. When it came to zeroing on an elective course, he picked automotive engineering and soon developed a fascination for cars. 

Cars are now a passion for Chaba, 59, the chief executive emeritus at MG Motor India. In an interview with Lounge, Gurugram-based Chaba talks about the importance of strength building and why nobody is interested in gyaan. Edited excerpts:

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Who do you consider your mentor?

I have had two mentors at General Motors (GM; his previous job) whom I have always looked up to—Nick Reilly (former head of Asia Pacific), and Kevin Wale (former head, China).

An insight you worked on with your mentors’ guidance?

We all have weaknesses. However, by focusing on building our strengths, we can effectively manage those flaws. I also strongly believe that determination, consistency play a vital role in helping us become a better version of ourselves.

Also read: Rashi Agarwal on what being a mentor means

What does being a mentor mean to you?

Mentoring is one of the most important responsibilities at this stage of my career. Most of the time, it is “on the job" and manifests in the need to strike a balance between authenticity and practicality, versus gyaan (loosely translated to book-ish knowledge). Nobody is really interested in hearing gyaan.

What’s your morning schedule like?

My mornings begin with some form of physical activity, like gym, Pilates, walking and golf. All days are largely the same, except Saturdays which I dedicate to spending time with my wife.

Productivity principles you follow?

I was fortunate to become a CEO at the age of 41 years. Of course, I made a lot of mistakes but I’ve learnt invaluable lessons. I keep evolving as a person, and try to follow these mantras to keep myself “sane"—no meetings before 10am and after 5pm; catching up on reviews or meetings on Monday or Tuesday, and giving space to your reportees to lead projects in their way; keeping at least one day a week for yourself for the miscellaneous “stuff"; not picking up any unknown number; losing your “official power" consciously and mindfully, which is tough initially but needs to be done; letting your wife completely take over everything, except your job, which is a “no questions asked" theory.

Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.

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Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.

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