In 2008, as Chief Operating Officer of Hertz India, he brought radio taxis into Indian cities. They were launched in 4 cities as EasyCabs. He also pioneered the car rental retail at Indian airports and launched limousine service for Emirates business class in India with grant fleet of 100 Mercedes. He has been listed amongst India’s top 50 CMOs in 2015 and 2016 by the prestigious World Brand Congress.
In the recent past, VIKAS MARWAH, managed the
media sensitivity in the high-profile Sunjay-Karisma case.
There is so much more to the man than his professional achievements. He is a doting father, a loving husband, a sportsperson, nature-lover and much more.
He humbly submits: “I am just a regular corporate fella constantly reinventing and rotating my fortune dice in the crazy life game ! Always on rollercoaster…”
Read on to learn his story and #StayInspired.
You are always pulsating with energy. I wonder how your early years were.
During my growing years, I was trouble’s favourite child. Fiercely combative, it took a superhuman effort from my gentle and religious mom to rein me in. Dad was forever busy as he’s even today at the ripe age of 80! I guess I picked up that ‘never give up’ attitude from him. I struggled my way through all major exams not knowing what my forte was. I was a voracious reader and consumed English fiction all the time. I helped me communicate better, succeed faster and develop a worldview at an early age.
Is there an incident that took place in your childhood/growing years that was a turning point in your life?
My grades were always low, that is the reason why I couldn’t clear the National Defense Academy exams. I did make it to the Services Selection Board interview through the Combined Defence Service Exam in 1986. Despite low grades, I was confident that I will make it into the Indian Army. We were a rowdy gang with adrenaline rushing through our veins all the time. We rebelled at the mess due to the dismal quality of food. What’s more? We even got involved in a fistfight with another group. Needless to say that we were booted out from the premises the next day. I returned wise young man who went on to score merit at Delhi University in BA Hons & then at MBA. I got a great launch pad through campus placements.
Foiled attempts to join the Indian Army, a compromise with BA Hons, how did you land up in Marketing and Communications?
As per Peter Drucker says, ‘Business has only two functions. Marketing & Innovation’ I’m glad that I’m representing one of them. I was never cut out to be a technocrat or mathematician. I mapped out my career path based on what I could do the best. I interned with JK Tyres in 1989. I loved travelling and meeting people. Challenges excited me. I thus chose sales before I chose marketing.
Your life seems picture perfect. Were there any incidents that led you to take a step back?
I’ve been twice struck down with life-threatening serious ailments. Both the times, I was riding the success wave and at the acme of my career. The second time around, in 2009, I was comatose and on ventilator support.
Looking at death in the eye twice, is a life-altering experience. I’ve come out of situations stronger and tougher counting each day as a bonus and making most of it.
I continued to rise professionally through both my illnesses, testing new industries, new markets and being part of start-ups which called for immense physical and mental focus while I battled on health grounds. Today, 7 years later, I’m fit to run a marathon, race cars and travel most days of the month. Apart from my ‘never say die’ attitude, it was the love and support of my family and friends that kept me going.
How different are you in your professional life from your personal life? Tell me something about your role as a husband, son, brother, friend.
I’m surprisingly same at work or home. Aggressive, fun loving, people’s man and one given to finishing a task once I start. I’m a doting father to my kid. Overprotective as I’m told.
“A diehard romantic to the core, I still plan surprises 24 years down for my wife only to be chastened.”
My younger brother is like a son to me and I regularly review his progress in his entrepreneurial venture even if he doesn’t like it much. As for friendship, I take it for granted much to the chagrin of my beloved friends. I’m highly reciprocal in what I get and give incidentally if you can decipher that.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Every day starts with my wife & I going out for a 45-min brisk walk/ steady jog. I’m at my office around 8.30 am when not on business travel. I try to come back home on weekdays unless it’s a ‘must attend’ business or networking event in the evening. My typical work hour is about 10-12 hours.
We have a five-day week that allows me time to plan personal things and short getaways to our farmhouse. I also love cooking Indian non-vegetarian dishes which is something I started enjoying a couple of years back. We have one son who’s studying to be a lawyer and is now in the final year. He comes over most weekends so it’s fun. Catching up with friends is not planned specifically and is more event-based as spending time with family is more important. I’ve also been building my farmhouse away from Delhi at the Western Ghats in Matheran hills and planning for it is consuming creative part of my brain for two years now.
His Twitter bio says: Keep looking things my way. My head is held high. You wanna bring me down? I dare you to try !
Which is the best time of the day? What do you do at that time?
I would say best time of the day is mornings between 5-8 am when I’m giving time to my body and mind to get ready for the day. After my morning cuppa, I quickly go over the ‘To do’ list and plan to finish it during the day for sure. I’m also meanwhile surfing social media right up to the time my driver gets me to the office and it is the fun time of being all charged up and ready to engage with internal teams and customers. That’s the time when I’m available for all calls as I’m half asleep in the car on my way back in evenings.
Whom do you turn to in times of adversities? Has it helped? How?
God has been more than kind to me. Never an openly religious person, I silently respect the supreme power. I shun temples and its messengers. I only communicate with the almighty through my soul. My father has been my role model all through my life and my mother and brother my life-support.
However, the one person to whom I run to for the smallest to biggest problems is my soul-mate, Sapna. She is calmness personified in biggest crisis and moderates my over anxiety and restlessness brilliantly. Slow to anger and never reactive, she’s imperiously aloof to latest fads or gadgets or fashion. A committed teacher for 25 years, she’s a role model at her school and a textbook on sincerity and honesty. I wouldn’t be here without her.
Is there something you would like to tell the readers? A message that would help them achieve the acme of success just like you did?
My message to the younger generation:
– Love what you do.
– Quickly and master your domain creating clear differentiators on what you’re bringing to the table.
– Make your skill set unique that’s difficult to replicate.
– Don’t mistake loyalty with dynamism.
– Have the courage to test new ground.
– And never to be taken for granted.
—As told to Mayura Amarkant
This is the seventh interview in the #StayInspired series. Here are the rest:
- #StayInspired – 1: Dreams keep people alive
- #StayInspired: Marriage is a warm & intimate cocoon
- #StayInspired: Born today, 4 Inspiring people
- #StayInspired: When I was 13, my grandma wanted to marry me off
- #StayInspired: God rejected my death
- #StayInspired: Meet the Dhoni of Indian Corp Comm & PR