Joining a business as the “boss’ son” is never easy. This was one of the first lessons Shreevar Kheruka learned on returning from the US in 2006, after quitting his job at the Monitor Group, a strategy consulting firm in Boston.
“I came back home with a lot of ideas, but quickly realised that the complexity of business was very high. It was much easier to make recommendations than to implement them successfully,” recalls Kheruka, managing director at Borosil Ltd.
The challenge started with getting the old hands at Borosil to accept a newbie as their potential future boss. As a result, his attempts at pushing through changes in systems and processes were met with some resistance initially.
“However, I was fortunate to have entered the business during a very difficult time for the company. So, people were much more willing to make changes. This made it easier for me to take charge, as compared to how it would have been had things been going smoothly,” the Mumbai-based 41-year-old says.
Kheruka travelled across the country between when to when, any examples of places? to understand the needs of his customers. And over time, he was able to not only diversify Borosil’s renowned glass tableware, but could also expand the scientific business to include pharmaceutical packaging, instrumentation products and process systems.
Things have changed from the days when Kheruka had to convince customers on why glass is a healthier and safer alternative to plastic. Today, it is relatively simpler tending to the needs of environmentally conscious millennials, who are also more accepting towards how glass looks and feels.
“Every employee from the top to the bottom knows that our goal is to be more customer centric and we try to make all decisions through that lens,” he says.
Kheruka talks to Lounge about the importance of being patient.
My father, Pradeep Kheruka.
I have learned to be more patient, both with people and situations. I like to delve into problems in order to find solutions, just like my father. Learning to do this has led to a much deeper understanding of every process in the business. I’ve also come to realise that you cannot control everything - you need to do your best and leave the rest to God. I am not quite there yet. But seeing how equanimous my father is in every situation, no matter how challenging, has given me a lot of strength.
My job as a leader and mentor is to try to bring out the full potential in everyone. It is important to not beat people up for mistakes - a lot of conversations, discussing what went right and wrong, and what could be done better. Most importantly, setting shared expectations that encompass our potential.
I’m usually woken up by my eight-year-old son who barges into our room at 6am for an early morning snuggle. I also have two teenage daughters, who are not such happy campers in the morning. My wife and I drop them off at the bus stop, and then go for a walk or do yoga together. I spend some time with my grandmother and mother at breakfast and try to leave for work by 9am.
I write everything down. There is nothing that I need to do that is not on paper. This allows my head to be clutter free and enables me to focus on what I need to do.
More video conferencing, less travel.
Built to Last by Jim Collins. The Bhagavad Gita also holds a lot of lessons that I believe are important to learn as an entrepreneur—about karma, dharma and surrender.
I love watching sports—cricket and F1 primarily. I also have recently begun playing padel, which I really enjoy. Chatting with my daughters is a big stress buster, as is playing catch with my son. My wife and I play a daily game of Rummikub before we get to bed.
Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.
Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.