Saturday, April 15, 2006

CEO-ing in India


Google sent me an interesting article this morning about CEOs in India. According to the Economic Times, Indian CEOs are trying to fit in better with their employees and appear less imperial and hierarchial. Instead of staying at five-star hotels while traveling, Indian CEOs are now staying at company guest houses with employees and even using vending machines like the average guy or gal. As I have noted over the years in my work on CEO reputation, the link between the CEO's reputation and the bottom line is being felt in India. This is the reason given for CEOs turning into "cool dudes" as the article says.

One particular point caught my attention."Take the age-old tradition of attaching a Saheb, Babu and a Ji to everyone’s name. Though most Indian employees would still be acutely uncomfortable calling their bosses by their first names like the Americans do, Indian CEOs are now persuading them to call them by their initials as a first step. So Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani is MDA, Kumar Mangalam Birla is KMB and Sunil Bharti Mittal is SBM to most and Sunil to quite a few."

Got me to thinking about CEOs we hear about often. Here is an unrepresentative list.

GE's Jeff Immelt = JI
BP's John Browne = JB
Microsoft's Bill Gates = WG (for William)
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer = SB
Ebay's Meg Whitman = MW
Starbuck's Howard Schultz = HS
Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet = WB
Ford's Bill Ford = WF (for William)

Somehow these initials do not have a ring to them. Maybe because we need to use their middle initials if they have them. Hard to imagine calling Bill Gates WG or BG. Interesting idea, however.

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