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TTK Prestige’s MD on the importance of humility

Chandru Kalro says humility is the foundation of strong relationships

Chandru Kalro, MD, TTK Prestige.
Chandru Kalro, MD, TTK Prestige.

Early in his career, Chandru Kalro was offered a job at TTK Prestige as a product manager. This was in the early 1990s, soon after graduating with a degree in electronics and communication engineering from the Coimbatore Institute of Technology. The profile at TTK seemed unusual given his qualification, but Kalro felt he had an edge over his competition. “I have been cooking since childhood. I felt like it gave me an advantage over a management graduate since this was a company that made products for cooking. My kitchen today is the beta kitchen and new products that we make first go through there,” Kalro laughs.

Over the last three decades, the Chennai-based managing director of TTK Prestige has been instrumental in transforming what was essentially a pots and pans business into a contemporary brand that makes premium kitchen and home products.

Also read: Mohit Saxena on how a failure shaped his company

“If you feel strongly about something, you are given the empowerment and the autonomy to do it. That’s the gene code of the company. These are the things that really keep one going because you not only evolve as an individual, but also end up contributing to the company’s welfare,” he says.

Kalro talks to Mint Lounge about the importance of humility and how he goes about mentoring his team at work.

Who do you consider your mentor?

My father, Madan Kalro. He passed away 28 years ago, but he continues to guide me. He taught me the basic values of life, which I think are still relevant today.

One major insight you worked on with your mentor’s guidance?

One of the things that he told me about was humility—don’t ever mix up the respect that you get at the office for yourself; it may just be for the chair that you are sitting on. And therefore, build relationships with the humility that the relationship deserves, so that even when you are not on that chair, you have the same amount of love and respect. 

What does being a mentor mean to you?

I teach some of these values of helping people, empowering people and empathising with people. On how to be constructive rather than critical. These are some of the things I keep repeating in different ways. And I’m sure they understand what I’m trying to say. Because at my position today, one of the things that I do want to do is preserve the culture of this wonderful company. And I can only do that when the people there imbibe the same values that we live for. 

What’s your morning schedule like?

To tell you the truth, I look at the mail for the last billing from the previous day. And then I actually do a lot of reading of short articles on various subjects—philosophy, management and things like that. I like to pick up and write something and send it to my team, maybe three out of seven days, something that I believe can add value to their day. And after that, have a cup of tea and watch the birds. 

How do you unwind?

Music and a lot of movies, almost one a day. And I watch a lot of news. I consume current affairs and like to be on the ball on whatever is happening around the world. I enjoy listening to classical Hindi music, Hindi film music especially from the 70s and 80s, and then English pop music from the 80s. 

Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.

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

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