Ravi Venkatesan
Founder, Social Venture Partners India
Ravi Venkatesan is the Chairman of the Board at Bank of Baroda. He is also the founder Chairman of Social Venture Partners India, a partner at Unitus Seed Fund and a fund advisor at Kalaari Capital. Ravi serves on the boards of Rockefeller Foundation, Infosys Ltd and several advisory Boards. He is the author of an acclaimed book "Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere" published by Harvard Business Review. Prior to this, as Chairman of Microsoft India between 2004 and 2011, Ravi helped build India into Microsoft's second-largest presence in the world. Ravi has served on the boards of Harvard Business School, AB Volvo, Bunge and Thermax.

3 most important qualities an entrepreneur should have?

  • Learning agility
  • Courage
  • Tenacity


What makes a great leader?

  • The paranoid can’t disrupt: Disruption has less to do with strategy and everything to do with leadership mindset, culture and such soft factors. For instance, it’s rare that you are surprised by disruption, unless the management is fast asleep. You see the disruption coming long before it hits you. The interesting question to ask would be: why is it that organisations that see it coming find themselves paranoid?
  • Rigidity is detrimental: Every business needs to periodically reaffirm what business they are really in. For instance, it wasn’t that Microsoft lacked technology, resources, etc. to compete in the mobile sector. In fact, it was one of the pioneers. But the leadership mindset was that they were a PC company. And if you stick too long to that rigid definition of your identity, the world will pass you by.
  • Ambidextrous is a double-edged sword: There is this emerging idea of an ambidextrous organisation. It’s the CEO who connects the two sides. If you create this two-speed organisation, at some point, both sides have to also engage with the whole. IBM’s big problem with the PC, 30 years ago for those who remember, was the failure to integrate the PC business
  • Out-of-the-box leadership: The problem is when we hire a leader, we look for people who are well-rounded and politically correct. But the people who are capable of transformation are mavericks. They should have an angular personality. Large organisations don’t like angular personalities. They weed them out. These times call for warriors, not peacetime generals.


Why did you choose to be a part of Kstart eco-system?

I want to be in the company of people who are stretching themselves to make the world better and more interesting.


The one thing you wish you had known when you were 25?

Take more risk. Be more generous.


Books you would recommend

  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Good to Great
  • Good Strategy Bad Strategy
  • The Gita by Eknath Easwaran

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