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" A leader should have the courage of a General and compassion of a Saint "


Pavan Choudary,
CEO & MD , Vygon India

Converting roadblocks into opportunities

Rajiv Tewari of Edu Media traced the journey of Pavan Choudhary from school to the position of CEO, Vygon India , a French Multinational. Pavan has worked with Jagsonpal, Govan Advertising, Cadila and Dabur before joining Vygon India . He is the author of The Rx Factor, one of the most reviewed books from the Pharma Industry. He is a visiting faculty to several well-known institutes and is widely respected for his coaching skills in the Corporate World as well as at the Indian Police Academy and the IAS Academy . Pavan also is a council member of the European Business Group and is on the advisory boards of some prestigious educational institutes.

Responsibility makes you responsible
Pavan remembers Sister Philomena with a smile. She was the Principal of his school, St. Joseph ’s Convent at Sagar. She did not like Pavan because of his pranks and threatened to expel him from school several times. He remembers the incident of Sister Philomena cancelling the school elections simply because Pavan had won with a big margin as House Captain of the Red House. She called a general body meeting and annulled the elections.

There was a re -election but Pavan was elected again by an even higher margin. This was a great disappointment for the Principal but for Pavan this was to be a turning point in his life. Responsibility made him responsible and instead of pranks he began to focus on how Red House could perform better than the Blue House which had been the Champion House for several years in a row. He wanted to take the challenge and prove his leadership capabilities to every one, especially to Sister Philomena who was also the head of Blue House.

“So, that was a very interesting year where I felt I am not just a prankster – finally we won against great odds. That was a new me in that one year. I was the organizer and the inspirer. Handling people, the girls and the boys and all that was not easy, but it was good fun and I enjoyed it.” Pavan learnt the art of converting challenges into opportunities and realized that responsibility makes a person responsible.

Converting disadvantages into advantages
Pavan was born in an ancestrally wealthy family with a silver spoon but by the time he finished his education, his family had lost its wealth. A lot of people now looked down at him and his family, and Pavan did not like their disdain. But instead of feeling disheartened, Pavan resolved to prove to every one that he can create wealth by working hard.

After graduating in Pharmacy (Hons) and adding an MBA from Simla, Pavan observed that the fast track was available only to the Graduates from the IIMs, Harvard, Wharton and some other well known institutes. The medium track was available to Graduates from some of the better-known Management Institutes and he was being offered the slowest track with lowest salaries. Again this was not acceptable to Pavan. He worked for a while with Jagsonpal but quickly changed tracks.

“I decided to bring a differential advantage to my candidature. I freelanced with Lintas and then joined Govan Advertising to add a differential advantage to my CV. The differential advantage on the CV really worked and I got my next break, which was a good break with Cadila. I joined Cadila as a Product Manager and quickly rose to become the Group Product Manager. I was among the key people who launched Zieta Pharmaceuticals and so on.”

Pavan learnt a lot about people management and human nature at Cadila and was soon invited to join Dabur. By this time he had decided to create further differentiation by writing a book on Pharma Marketing, The Rx Factor. His stint at Dabur provided him with a kaleidoscopic vision and he was promoted to senior levels but the real differential was created by his book. The press gave the book excellent reviews around the world and the Pharma industry as well as leading institutes picked up the copies of the book in large numbers. Thothatri Raman, Consulting Editor, Business India , says, “The Rx Factor, is undoubtedly a Classic.” No wonder then that it finds its place on the world renowned Kevin B. Kip Piper recommended reading list along with the world’s best books of this genre.

The book suddenly brought him in the lime-light. Invitations for workshops and training programmes began to pour in from the best institutes and several associations. Much to Pavan’s surprise, one day he got a call from Boyden, a multinational head-hunter. They were looking for a CEO for Vygon. Pavan was selected and became one of the youngest CEOs in his early thirties. “The initial few months had teething troubles. Thereafter, I have just felt blessed to be a part of Vygon, because this is a company where I feel that the value system and work ethic of the people, who are around, all over the world, is very similar to mine. Vygon is a highly respected name world wide for its dependable products, its dependable people and its dependable practices.”

Learning from life
Pavan visits several well-known institutes and enjoys teaching students and tries to absorb the best within the Vygon Family. He encourages his students to learn from their friends, parents and all those they interact with outside the class. “We learn Pascal’s Law, Boyle’s law and so many other laws but we don’t use them in our day to day life. But what we learn from life is used everyday.” He advises his students to ensure that they concentrate on essential learning areas like the languages, management subjects, financial management, art of savings, Yoga, physical studies, team work and developing sensitivities towards people around them besides just concentrating on their core subjects.

Contributing back to Society
Pavan feels it’s important to contribute back to the Society which has given him so much. His NGO Arise India works for the issues concerning the common man. He travels around the country teaching Leaders in the Corporate World as well as in the Government. These interactions also helped Vygon in securing an enduring base in India . “How a King should rule” is one of his most talked about workshop . P.V. Rajgopal, Ex Director, National Police Academy and author of the book on leadership and teamwork, "We did it", has this to say about Pavan Choudary and one of his workshops, “This critical audience (of senior police officers) gave him the highest rating given to few speakers. The points put forward by him were enlightening and very original. He is a man to watch. He might just be the next Deepak Chopra".

He teaches leaders to have courage with compassion. “I believe that a good leader should have the courage of a general and the compassion of a saint. When I am giving my talks on leadership, I wear a commando trouser and an orange Kurta. The Commando Trouser signifies the courage of a general and the orange Kurta signifies the compassion of a saint.” His passion now lies in training leaders as he feels that when one leader transforms, the lives of hundreds under him blossom and the organization he leads simultaneously witnesses dramatic increase in productivity. Pavan believes that by sharing his ideas thus, he makes his small contribution to better governance. For Pavan, who has believed in infinite patience bearing immediate results, fulfillment now is a way of life.

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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