Question: Who’s the world’s richest Indian-born individual in terms of annual income? Laxmi Mittal did you say? Wrong! Arun Sarin (Source: IBN Live) it is. To the uninitiated, Sarin is the top executive of the world’s largest telecom company. If you’re wondering how he got there, read on.
Vodafone and its CEO may not have come under the Indian media’s spotlight, but Arun Sarin is among the most powerful Asians in the global business arena. The low-profile Sarin shot to fame almost overnight after his appointment as Vodafone’s CEO in 2003.
An alumnus of IIT, Kharagpur, and University of California, Berkley, Arun Sarin started his career as a management consultant. He entered the telecom arena in 1984 when he became Pacific Telesis’ youngest vice president (Corporate Strategy) at the age of 35. Sarin became a director at AirTouch in 1995, and played a crucial role in the company’s merger with Vodafone. Though he left Vodafone in 2000 to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions, he returned 3 years later as the company’s CEO. Since then he’s been following a strategy of cautious aggression – a clear detour from his predecessor Christopher Gent’s inclination towards expensive buyouts.
During the first couple of years in his high-power role, Sarin had to face scathing criticism from investors and the media when Vodafone lost a bid on AT&T wireless to Cingular, and bought Turkish company Telsim at an exorbitant $ 4.5 bn. Matters got worse for Sarin when the company was forced to write down $ 28 bn in 2006. However, Sarin continued his restructuring strategy with special focus on emerging markets. Recently the company acquired majority stakes in Hutchinson Essar, India’s fourth-largest telecom company, beating the likes of Reliance Communications. It’s reported that the move has been met with enthusiasm from Vodafone’s management as well as shareholders. Sources close to the company’s top management indicate that Sarin has a few more tough decisions lined up in the near future in his attempt to consolidate the company’s position as the global leader in telecommunications.
Arun Sarin attributes his success to his ability to lead people. His management philosophy is to anticipate where you’ll be in the future, and then trace the path that’ll take you to this goal. Going by Vodafone’s recent moves, here’s one man who knows where he’s heading.
What do you find most inspiring about Arun Sarin? Will his success add value to Brand India? We would love to know your views.