If one were to bring out two striking aspects of his life and illustrious career, it would be his ability to bring people together and lead teams.
Apart from heading the West Chapter of PRCAI, he is an active member of the Round Table India for several years now. As captain of the University and BCA cricket teams, he has inspired many lives. This super communicator set up the largest forum that unites the best brains in Corporate Communications across India (IFCC).
His twitter bio says: ‘Passionate reputation builder through honest communications.’
And, believe me when I say this – his life is a reflection of the same. This legend has been a business communication partner to Vindi Banga, Harish Manwani and Doug Bailie at Hindustan Unilever, Mukesh Ambani, at Reliance, D.S Brar at Ranbaxy, Dan McDonald at Smith Kline Beecham and Habil Khorakiwala at Wockhardt.
He is the Dhoni of the PR & Corp Comm industry. This is his story. Meet PARESH CHAUDHRY, CEO, Madison PR.
Your life seems like it is straight out of a fairy-tale. Was it like this since the beginning? Tell me something about your early years.
My father was an accountant in Siemens and my mother was a dedicated homemaker. Her family background lay in publishing and editorial. This made her a sharp woman who had a perspective and voice on issues. I had a typical, middle-class upbringing and my mother induced a sense of responsibility and ambition in both her kids. She groomed us to fight unjust behaviours and raise a voice against injustice. We were trained on standing up for ourselves as well as others. My childhood was thus laced with an upbringing where honesty and integrity were the most important values.
My mother also taught me the power of respect and credibility. She told me that being a strong and honest leader will always yield positive result irrespective of the power or position that you hold.
Tell us about a childhood instance that changed your life.
I was studying in the 4th grade and came home crying almost every day. There was a bully at school who had made my life miserable. I still remember; my mother gave me a tight slap and said, “If someone hits you once, you hit them twice, but only if you are right. Also, never ever ask for sympathy.” I think, this was a big learning.
What made you choose this field as a career? When did you decide you wanted to make your passion your profession?
I was heading Marketing for SmithKline Beecham and by default dealt with employee engagement, crisis communications, media management etc. During one such crisis, the global communication head identified me to work around the India Crisis. This changed my life forever. I felt that this is one facet that can touch people’s lives every single day.
Authentic, real-time communication impacts behaviour and perceptions of every single stakeholder. This was when the Corporate Communications was born in the organisation and the value addition that we could bring in was far more than the Marketing role. Global roles in Ranbaxy, HUL and RIL gave me a great opportunity to focus on qualitative reputation management. I will never exchange my job for anything else. I founded the Indian Forum of Corporate Communicators (IFCC), to augment this value addition amongst other youngsters.
Anyone who has met you knows about the positivity that you exude at all times. What is the secret?
The trick here is to be objective. Having said that, I am pretty emotional and think from my heart and some of your best decisions are when you think from within and not from the head. It’s always positive in the long term. Don’t panic…ACT.
What kept you going through all the low phases of your life?
Having a nuclear family and being a part of The Round Table India group has given me a strong eco-system of love and support. If you compare your life situations with the underprivileged, you will thank God every single day of your life.
The human race is “Greed Aspirational” and this leads to unhappiness and pain.
How different are you in your professional life from your personal life? Tell me something about your role as a father, husband, son, brother, friend.
Great Question! Since I hail from a middle-class family with sound value systems, I am natural and honest with every touch point of my life. Family, Friends, colleagues, employers, communities, drivers, maid and others will always remain part of daily engagements. If one respects them, one will receive respect in return. At the same time, I stand-up for atrocities and bad behaviour. Both required being natural and straightforward at the same time.
Therefore, I can be highly motivational on one side and destructive on the other. It is thus easy to play different roles. People take you for what you are and know that an intense argument can end up in an apology if one is wrong.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Since I am in the reputation and brand-building business, every day is uniquely exciting. A typical day is peppered with some or the other crisis where the media is involved. Solving crisis, creating the right advocacy for the client and the media gives me a great high.
I am extremely happy if people around me feel delighted about their job and lives. Adding value in the working environment and social space gives me peace. On a weekday, watching the News Hour with Arnab gives me a high. I think I relate to him in some ways for his passion and aggression.
Do you believe in God? What is your relationship with God?
I am neither a fanatic nor an atheist. There is a universal power which demands you to be a good human being; that, in some way, brings about Karma in your existing life. I believe that as messengers we ought to positively touch people’s lives.
Who has inspired you the most? Which are the qualities that you imbibed from this person?
It has to be my mother who imbibes every single quality of being a nice human being. Clear thoughts, honest and direct, always ready to help and keeping the family together. Being from a different generation, it becomes difficult to apply on a daily basis. I think, if your values are fundamentally sound, you should be able to become a role model yourself for many.
Whom do you turn to in times of adversities? Has it helped? How?
A strong eco-system consisting of friends and family is essential. It always helps during issues or crisis. I have been blessed with a good bunch of people around me who understand me as an individual and help me without expectations or favour.
What is your mantra of life?
I have always been consistent about one single message and that is:
‘Be genuine, honest and committed to everyone you deal with. You can never go wrong.’
What does marriage mean to you? What is the role your spouse has played in your career journey?My wife, Jayashree has played a significant role in my life, from a punching bag to a balancing role to a family & career interconnector when I was in trouble. She is in the field of Human Resources and helps sometimes I guess. We are extreme in personalities and mindsets, and that is what makes it fire and ice!
Paresh lives in Mumbai with his wife and is a doting father to Disha (24 years) and Yash (18 years.)
Reach out to Paresh at:@
Let me know whether this interview touched your life. Do like, share and comment.
– As told to Mayura Amarkant
This is the sixth interview in the #StayInspired series. Here are the rest: