What a day looks like

A day with the Chief Executive Officer of Indus Towers, the world’s largest tower company serving telecom operators. BS Shantharaju

A day with the Chief Executive Officer of Indus Towers, the world’s largest tower company serving telecom operators. BS Shantharaju


5:15 am

Like all true Bangalore-born, I can’t do without my strong coffee.

5:45 am

An early bird not only catches the worm, but manages to grab the fancy morning tee spot as well. Living next to a golf course is something I dreamt of, and the millennium city of Gurgaon has made this possible. I am not much of an exercise person; but twice a week a round of golf, in the morning before the madness of the world takes over, gets me vital fresh air and the energy to last the entire day.

8:15 am

I read the business papers, checking the latest update on the cricket. I get started with work, get a sense of my calendar for the day and answer emails, which my office has prioritised. Over the years I have learned the art of resisting the temptation of looking at all the emails.

Technology is an enabler, only if used with discipline. I trust the discretion of my office staff who flag urgent emails, and I only answer them.

8:30 am

My office is only a few kilometres away, but the commute is bad. While India is getting most of the things right, it still has a long way to go before we perfect our urban infrastructure. Nevertheless I use this time to make important calls. My personal motto in life is ‘to make a substantial difference to the lives of people in society’, and that’s the reason I choose to work in the infrastructure sector. I work with a telecom infrastructure company, which carries three out of five calls in India; and that’s a huge number — remember we Indians like to talk. In the past, I sowed the seeds of India’s best airport, the Delhi airport. How I wish I could do something about our urban infrastructure as well!

10:00 am

After a quick morning cheer to everyone, I have a look at all the cockpit dashboards, followed by answering the important mail. An empowered CEO’s office helps.

11:00 am

My first meeting of the day is usually a business-critical meeting or one that deals with a strategic issue. The subject could range from new business opportunities to people initiatives and is, perhaps, the most satisfying hour at the workplace. Ours is a three-year-old company and is the world’s largest tower company as well. A lot still needs to be done. My top-of-mind agenda is building a new business pipeline and a training programme to upgrade the skills of 50,000 people we employ through our service vendors to institutionalise the Indus way of running a world-class infrastructure business. 3G is being launched in India, and telecom in India is going to change for good as well. To maintain our lead, we have to stay ahead.

1:15 pm

Lunch is a new habit that I have cultivated. I used to do with a minimal lunch, till my doctors found faults with my metabolic rate. I choose my table at our café, preferably with junior employees. The information flow is helpful, and I get to know what doesn’t get reported as well. Often I end up playing a mentor to these bright kids, who are the future of this company and this country.

2:00 pm

A critical element of the CEO job is doing rigorous reviews and setting the right organisational priorities. I religiously devote the afternoon hours to review. I spend 70 per cent of my time on reviewing transformational initiatives and the remaining 30 per cent on enhancement and ‘pain remover’ projects.

4:00 pm

It’s the time to meet customers or resolve issues that concern them. I usually prefer meeting my customers personally and often travel to meet them.

6:00 pm

My last meeting of the day; it’s usually a relationship call. Infrastructure business has a lot of stakeholders, and engaging with the environment is key.

7:00 pm

I spend some light moments with the team, often a quick drink. Indians are an emotional lot, and we have a strong bonding need. An emotional bond keeps the team together, and we back each other up like a cricket team. Often I catch up with old friends and business acquaintances for a drink but prefer to be home for dinner.

8:00–10:30 pm

I relax and unwind with family, perhaps have a phone call with my kids. At times, I manage a quick read as well. Everyone knows how difficult it is to get more out of your day. Over a month I spend 20 per cent on strategic issues, 20 per cent on operational issues and 10 per cent on relationship building.

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