Management by Idiots

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Arup Roy Choudhury


Arup Roy Choudhury is the Chairman & Managing Director, NTPC Limited, one of the largest and best run power companies in the world, since September 2010. He shares unique insights from his book ‘Management by Idiots’

How much of the insights in the book Management by Idiots is based on Indian philosophies?

The fundamental insight captured in the last Chapter ‘Sankalpa shuddha hi siddha’ (If your intentions are pure, you are bound to succeed) is from my Guruji Maharaj, who is part of the great Indian spiritual tradition.

Going through the book, the reader will find several references to wisdom contained in the Indian philosophical literature like the reference of The Bhagawad Gita in the chapter ‘Jo dar gaya samjho mar gaya’.

I have not consciously tried to look at the philosophical traditions of East and West while putting together my thoughts in the book. The book is intended to be a light read and I have consciously avoided any structured reference to any kind of philosophical or academic streams. However, the Indian ethos, the ‘Sanskara’ shaped my growth as an individual and the western ideas were embedded in me as a student and as a professional and the two get inseparably intertwined when I respond, think, decide or strategize.

What according to you is a nice blend of Indian and western models to become a good manager?

Western science and eastern ethics was the motto of the Japanese restoration in the period 1868- 1912. In the globalized world of today, there is a blend of the global and local in practically all facets of business including the methods of management. A nice blend of Indian and western models was exemplified in the management of Tata Steel Limited (formerly Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited (TISCO). The company promoted not only lifelong but generational employment and loyalty among the workers, most of whom came from neighbourhood areas and at the same time adopted modern factory processes and the system of marketing and distribution.

What is the secret of NTPC’s success?

Strong systems with focus on compliance, target orientation, commitment of the people, the talent and expertise available in the Company, looking at global best practices in association with the leading power sector experts abroad are among the factors behind NTPC’s sustained success.

It gets top ranking in best place to work competing even with the private companies – what are your unique HR policies?

It begins with being one of the most sought after employers. What with NTPC receiving 1,60,000 applications for about 350 positions for engineering trainees! Competitive and lucrative salaries, technology-strength of the company attract some of the best people. The Company provides a very good training exposure of a very comprehensive kind. In fact, many of the private sector organizations also seek NTPC’s help in training their young executives. The projects and stations of NTPC are very well built and maintained with facilities for recreation and sports.

NTPC launched the PUPS (Providing Urban facilities at Projects and Stations) program, which aims at providing urban facilities at the sites, so that young people avail of cafes, libraries, wi-fi spots and social media etc. in the townships.

There is a DaD (Directors at your Door program), under which senior most executives visit the projects and stations to talk to the employees on a single platform.