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XLers featured in the Outlook magazine

From Outlook magazine

Sadashiv Nayak 38 
CEO, Food Bazaar 
XLRI-Jamshedpur, 1993

“An MBA had to be aggressive and an extrovert, and I was neither.”

When his family shifted from Goa to Mumbai, a 260 sq ft flat in Mumbai’s small-time suburb Bhayander wasn’t exactly the big city experience the school-going Sadashiv had in mind. From those humble beginnings to a posh apartment in Khar, Sadashiv has indeed come a long way. Initially, money was always an issue: Sadashiv went to engineering college thanks to his aunt’s monetary support. And that’s where he first heard about an MBA.

“Without it, I’d never have been able to shed the baggage of my middle-class upbringing and get used to unabashed consumption through retail,” he says, adding that B-school gives an individual a natural passport of confidence. Nayak first joined Asian Paints, where he got a sense of the booming economy. Then, he had a six-year stint at HUL, where he got a taste of the competitive spirit of the regional players. Despite his apprehensions about getting into retail, he felt the need for change.As long as the customer remains unpredictable, he says, retail will be interesting.

By Arti Sharma


Leena Nair 39 
Executive Director, Hindustan Unilever Ltd 
XLRI, Jamshedpur, 1992 

“We were always taught never to take things for granted.”

Somewhere in Etah, UP, there’s a 500-metre stretch of tarmac named after HUL’s youngest executive director. That’s because, as a management trainee, Leena Nair managed to rally villagers in a ‘Shramdaan’ to connect the village to the nearest main road. Nair grew up in Kolhapur listening to stories of how her family faced hardship. “Although I hadn’t experienced it first-hand, we were always taught never to take things for granted.” So while her family could afford to send her to college in a Mercedes, she was made to cycle 12 km each way because her father felt she hadn’t earned the right to that kind of luxury.

Knowing she was good at leading and dealing with people, Nair applied to XLRI despite opposition from the family. She remembers optimism about reforms in B-school, although “the reality of the change was much slower than anticipated”. At HUL, they were often “thrown in at the deep end” to figure out if they could sink or swim. One of the key challenges she has faced is reversing HUL’s perception at campus placements. After five years, hul is back to being voted a Day Zero company.

By Arti Sharma