The Hunt – Part 2

The 1st Musketeer…

Have you ever spent fifteen minutes searching through your closet for your oldest t-shirt & jeans when getting ready to go for dinner at ‘someone’s’ place?   And during the dinner, that ‘someone’ is the only one who keeps cracking up at all your jokes?  And when all the jokes are done, this ‘someone’ asks your opinion on a matter of great importance, even though he has already made up his mind.  If you’ve had countless such late nights, then congratulationsfor you may have won a rare prize called “the best friend”!   You see, a best friend is never worth wasting your branded clothes on.  He laughs at your lamest jokes, for only he gets them the way you intend.  And yes, when he is asking for your opinion, he is not really askingonly sharing a part of himself with you.

I first met Navendu Mathur in 1998.  It was not friendship at first sight.  First, our three-year olds became best friends, then our wives, and then we became ‘civil’ to each other.  We made an odd couple.  He was a thoroughbred marketing professional; I was an IT geek.  He taught me about shoe/belt matching games, tie knotting puzzles, hair gel and stuff; I taught him nothing.  He had a challenging job—‘Sales Manager’ for Pune’s Holiday Inn at a time when business travels were not in vogue.  The hotel’s primary source of income was social events such as weddings and birthday parties that tested Navendu’s diplomatic and interpersonal skills to the hilt.

Then in early 2001, Navendu announced that he had packed it all in, and was off to Kathmandu as ‘Sales Manager’ for IHG’s flagship property, Soaltee Crowne Plaza.  He declared that the opportunity would give him phenomenal exposure to the tourist category of global customers.  It was a career move that didn’t need a best friend’s advice.  Of course that betrayal didn’t stop us from holidaying in Kathmandu merely nine months after his relocation.  The job had all the resort glamour that Navendu had dreamt about, but now he was toying with the option of relocating to Mumbai as ‘Director of Sales and Marketing’ for the Leela group.  This time around, he did want to know my opinion.  I vetoed.  A professional who has always worked with large MNC players—how will he fit in a family-owned company culture?   But Navendu didn’t see it my way; the prospect of engaging with the business travelers in Mumbai’s corporate circle was too tempting.  Besides, of course, my veto didn’t stand a chance against the teasing compensation arbitrage.

Fortunately, his Mumbai relocation also meant rekindling our family friendship.  During each interaction, I watched in fascination his great adrenalin rush while he cashed in on the booming business travel segment.  Then one fine evening in 2004, as we were enjoying VIP service at the Leela bar, Navendu broke the news of an offer from Vodafone as ‘Director of Sales’ for the Western zone.  This time I was vocally opinionated.  Navendu had a specialized hospitality background; selling mobile services was not his cup of tea.  But we were talking about India’s exciting B2C telecom story; my opinion was not as exciting.  The icing on the cake, Navendu concluded, was the handsome monetary and positional elevation.

During the next few years I had the pleasure of watching in awe, as my friend rapidly advanced in Vodafone.  Then in 2006, during our Bangkok family holiday, Navendu popped up a stunner.  He asked my advice about “General Sales Manager” position he had been offered by IBM Daksh.  My reaction was one of a complete disillusionment.  My friend had lost it.  For now he was talking about entering my backyard.  What could he possibly understand about the ITES sector?  The risks were overwhelming.  But so were the rewards, Navendu proclaimed.  To enter the roaring B2B segment of India’s sunrise industry was not an opportunity to be dismissed lightly.  Thus, he made the transition to India’s BPO outsourcing business.  Needless to say, he surpassed my expectations yet again, as he went about climbing IBM’s corporate ladder.

Navendu and I
The pair of best friends – Ritu & Kavita, Misha & Nitya

Four years elapsed, and the much anticipated discussion came up during our US holiday together.  Navendu announced that a head hunter had approached him with an offer from Aon Hewitt, the leading global HR consulting firm.  But it was a frontier like no other he had encountered in the past.  Selling HR outsourcing solutions to the emerging market businesses is a far cry from the regular, well-defined sales environments.   The market was not ready and the job in fact entailed the creation of demand itself!  ‘So do you think I am ready for a challenge like this?’ Navendu quipped.  ‘Why are you asking me’, I retorted, ‘as if you ever followed my advice in the past!’   ‘That’s precisely the point’, Navendu replied with a twinkle in his eyes, ‘If you say NO, that guarantees a great career move ’!

And Mr. Mathur continues to rock even as I am penning this blog today.  At the last count, Aon Hewitt had entrusted Navendu with the role of ‘Business Development Leader’ for the entire APAC region.  The promotion, of course, has come with a huge $ tag, a tag that would have bankrupted anyone who had bet against Navendu’s odds of success 25 years ago.   After all, how many ‘Bachelor of Commerce’ graduates in today’s world, launching their careers as sales interns in some diner’s club in Calcutta, end up hitting a jackpot?

Surely, Navendu seems to have discovered some secret recipe of professional success.  But before we hit the bull’s eye, it is time for a pause and switchover to the second tale. The impatient ones, however, are welcome to take a shot: If you believe you have correctly guessed the ‘universal’ secret hidden in the above story, ‘single’ it out in your comment.  If our observations match, I promise to personally host an expensive meal for the winner(s).   Those not in the commenting mood, it’s time for a little poll:

Which of the following industries (that Navendu flirted with) holds the best promise for a fresh graduate with a very modest academic background?

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Original, Skills, Strength, Style


  1. According to me the secrete of success is to, See beyond the Horizon and to go beyond the ‘limit’ or simply “Fly over the Clouds”

  2. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    Pursue your goals with all passion and commitment and success will follow you at every step.

  3. Such a fantastic blog, with a unique content.

  4. Hospitality is very dynamic and booming work sphere with great scope for the use of creativity, imagination and orientation . Its brings you great exposure on a global level.
    This business is not about widgets or spreadsheets,it is all about peoples, it’s about making people happy.

  5. The ‘universal’ secret hidden in the Navendu’s success story is ‘EQ(Emotional Balance\Attitude)’ according to me.

  6. EQ (Emotional Balance/Attitude)

    It takes a lot of courage, thought and ability to keep ourselves in check not to get drained away with the brighter side of opportunities but evaluate possible downside it has to offer. A balance of emotional quotient is required here.

  7. I believe Mr. Mathur’s basic instinct and confidence. Not for a moment he seemed to doubt himself no matter how alien his new industry was compared to his current one because he believed in his ability to ‘sell’ anything and to anyone!

  8. One of the main reason behind Navendu’s success is his ‘Positive Perspective’.

  9. Hi Arun,

    I believe it is relationship building which makes people successful irrespective of the field you are in. People buy from People. So as long as you have a good story to tell and can convey it honestly, eventually it will boil down to the “connect” that you can establish. That in my opinion is the key.


  10. The most important take away from Mr. Mathur’s journey so far is that you need to take a call, follow the instinct and go for it. Self belief in your capabilities will eventually make it big for you. Just a great academic background will not help you forever, it may give you a start. But if you do not have the qualities to take a jibe, self belief and following your instinct, you may not reach too far.

  11. Zeal and temperament decide a person’s professional success.

  12. 🙂 nice one

  13. Tempted to write 🙂 … just a personal view, could be far from right.

    Friend Navendu seems to always be looking for growth and opportunity and did capitalize rightly when they came to him. I vote for hospitality not because its where he scored major in his professional career but for the reason that it enrolled him in situations where he could bring substance to his attitude and character that fuelled the entire journey… profile, industry, materials changes but what carries along is the attitude/ character… EQ too.

  14. Diversified enrichment of the core competence. is the key, you got to know what you are good at, and just add a little diversified enrichment now and then. Challenge is the root cause of growth.

  15. I believe that the universal secret that he discovered was he believed in himself and grabbed the opportunity to discover some new art in himself without the fear of failure.
    He was not inclined in limiting himself only in the domain of his educational background. He started everything with a positive note and proved himself against all the odds and comments that came regarding his decision.

  16. I read something recently on Cybage intranet – the fear of losing should not me more that exceitement of winning. So I think the courage to take risks is one of the secrets.

  17. I have joined the Cybage Family recently, and am already a new addition to the ever-growing list of your fan-following!

    My observation and interpretation urges me to notice, that it has been Navendu’s hunger & thirst for knowledge, exposure and experimental diversity which has taken him places. These, and his attitude towards impending risks and challenges, have culminated into his success story. Capitalizing on all these, along with a supplement of his intelligence, spells the exponential growth curve for Navendu.
    An OPPORTUNIST would ideally move along this way. I feel each of us needs to be one, in order to comprehend and maximise on what is being offered.

    Not sure if our thoughts are in sync, but the above is a definite take-away for me from the quoted experience.

  18. I feel like, I am in the middle of the life your friend is living. I too had similar career changes after completing my education. After completing Diploma in Pharmacy, my family’s financial situation forced me to work and the immediate option was pharmaceutical marketing (as medical representative). During those almost two and half years, I was feeling like this is not what I want to do. Luck had it, I got a career path change and joined medical transcription industry. And from there, witnessing a friend’s shift from MT to Technical Documentation, I too thought this is something what I want to do. And here I am today, a simple guy from pharmacy background today working in one of the reputed IT companies, working as a senior in Technical Writing. Not sure, where life is going to take me… and I am all ready to take any challenge. 🙂

  19. Hello Arun Sir,

    I think the ‘universal’ secret hidden in the story, is the calculated risk and was always ready to take new risks in life to progress further.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Sagar Jangle.

  20. The secret of success is
    He was very clear of what he wanted to do irrespective of differeing opinions from friends etc.
    Your chances of doing the best are maximum once you are 100% convinced of what you are doing.
    His clarity of mind was one big secret and second was he was willing to explore new avenues. As they say PLAY THE GAME even if you fall two steps after taking four steps you still moved two.

  21. Sir,
    In my opinion the universal secret hidden in the story is that Navendu knows ‘how to sell’ – Be it hospitality, telecom services, BPO services OR HR.
    He was able to take up new challenge every time in different domain is because of that.


  22. According to my observation I find out Mr. Navendu always did what he wished to inspite of a big No from you. So the universal secret (or human tendency) is tend to do the opposite and tried to achieve success in it to show his friend see I am through it with a victory tag. The sharing of the opportunity with a best friend and later taking it up as a challenge by his friend…is the secret behind his zeal for success…

  23. Dear Arun Sir

    I believe Navendu’s collaborativeness with the people is the key in the story. Yes, it’s Emotional Quotient that worked. Also opportunities came and he grabbed that. Wonderful story of Mr Navendu Mathur.!

    Parth Vasani.

  24. Hello Arun,
    From the time i have read the below line in your blog, it is striking mine thoughts again and again and i.e. “If you say NO, that guarantees a great career move “. If its said by a very well established person like you, it means it will also be the thinking of most of the professionals. (Very much challenging but very less competition leading to great successfull path if you have the ability). I would like to relate it to one of the lines that similarly striked my thoughts was ” There are two kind of people : one who follows the path to success and achieve it, the other are those who create a path of success for themselves, which is everlasting). In first sitaution you might end up achieving the end point of success path, but the later one is endless( a bit challenging for sure). May be what Mr. Navendu said was in a funny way, but to me it seems to have a hidden meaning behind it.

  25. ‘Decision taking’. What I feel is most of us are scared of taking decision and that’s why we approach to others and try to match our opinion whith their suggestions. The one who knows to take decision irrespective of any pressure or fear grasps what he wants.
    For a climber who successfully reaches the zenith holds the quality of decision taking. He knows very well what he wants to do, what he wants to achieve and how well he can achieve it and Mr. Mathur knew everytime that he can achieve it irrespective of sort of experience or any other challenge.

  26. The secret behind story of your friend has to be Self-belief

  27. I think it is “The brave man carves out his fortune and every person is the sum of his works.”

  28. Hello Arun sir,
    I guess ‘universal’ secret hidden in this story is ‘Self-confidence’.
    Because one should have self-confidence to go for risks and to acheive success in career…


  29. Being FLEXIBLE to embrace the challenging opportunity – “Flexibility”

    then with competency, positive approach and passion he achieved excellence

  30. I too have the same opinion as Mr. Gajwani has. He has a very good so called PR (Personal Relationship) factor. With it, he is able to quickly bond with his customer and other people and then the sale follows.

  31. This reminds me of a quote–
    “It’s your road, and yours alone.Others may walk it with you. but no one can walk it for you.”

    And if I would ‘single’ it out I would say–No matter what you do Qualification does’t mattter ,your confidence in self does.

  32. I guess ‘universal’ secret hidden in this story is ‘Belief’.

  33. Hi,

    The universal secret behind Mr. Navendu success is his huge Risk Appetite and PR skills.

  34. In my opinion, Mr. Navandu didn’t resist the change as most of us do

  35. Good one! I think it’s a combination of things. “Being open to change” and the belief and confidence in his abilities, led to the spectacular professional success that Mr. Mathur saw. Being like the eagle who wasn’t afraid to soar high up, confidently and see what was beyond the hill!! (a thought, I had as a take away from one of your enthralling Cybage Annual Bash CEO speak!)

  36. I think Mr. Navandu has good personal relationship skill and commitment & confidence to face new challenges

  37. Hi Arun,

    According to me, universal secret behind professional success is ‘self-belief’. And self-belief is not only limited to monetary or worldly success, but also gives fulfilling life.


  38. The Universal hidden secret to success!!!

    According to me, I feel that the Universal secret to success is to go beyond the call of duty and love what you do. If you are passionate to what you do then sky is the limit to what you can achieve.

    There is a saying that “if everything seems moving slowly past you, you‘re not going fast enough” :).

  39. I believe universal secret is self-belief and positive attitude. If one thinks that he/she can achieve the goal with positive attitude then nothing can become obstacle for achieving it.

  40. As per my opinion, Change is universal secrete behind Mr. Mathur’s success. He not only switched Organizations but Domain as well from Hospitality, Telecom, IT. In fact he changed type of organizations as well from MNC to Family owned business, B2C to B2B.
    If you want to grow change is inevitable but do that with proper study of Market, Demand and doing SWOT analysis on every change will definitely result in success.

  41. The ability to sell is central/universal to all corporate and personal success. If an individual can sell a product, plan, idea or dream successfully, he will be able to succeed in all spheres of life. I believe that’s a crucial skill that Mr. Mathur honed during his stint as ‘Sales Manager’ with Holiday Inn.

  42. Steve jobs said in his speech at Stanford “do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it” .
    “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

    Mr. Navendu kept looking without settling at one place till he finds what he wants .

  43. I believe that its just not knowledge but attitude matters, if one who follows their instinct & go for it as will as flexible enough to take opportunity with no barrier will climb the ladder of success… 🙂

  44. “Fear of Unknown”, Mr. Mathur could overcome that. I think that’s the essence of his great success!

  45. ‘Aspiration’ is the universal secrete behind Mr. Mathur’s success as per my thought process.

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The Hunt – Part 2 - Arun Nathani Blog