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Siva Ganapathi, Chief Operating Officer, Karnataka, Idea Cellular

February 25, 2011
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Before joining the rat race, Siva Ganapathi says he had weighed his career options very carefully. “I always wanted to be an engineer. I started my career as a design engineer and also dabbled in software engineering out of academic interest. In fact, I even did my post-graduation in this field. However, my area of interest soon shifted to general management, as the software engineering field presented several complexities, which were not precisely definable. After completing my MBA, I changed my field to finance and later moved into strategy and then to business operations,” he says.

Ganapathi has over 20 years of work experience, and has worked in the US, Canada and India. His first assignment, he recalls, was with Udhe, a German engineering firm, after which he worked with DSP Merrill Lynch, ICICI and then the Aditya Birla Group, Idea Cellular’s parent company with which he has been for 15 years.

He took over his current position as chief operating officer of Idea’s Karnataka circle a year ago. In this capacity, his primary responsibility is ensuring that the operator’s business in the circle is profitable. Of course, there are other challenges and targets as well.

“We are battling a constant decline in tariffs due to hyper competition. Growth of voice minutes in urban areas is slowing down and the high level of competition is increasing the cost of customer acquisition,” he points out.

Drawing a comparison between the Karnataka circle and the rest of the country, he says the market share of each operator is highly skewed in this market. In such an environment, one has to ensure growth while managing costs, Ganapathi says.

He seems to be achieving this balance quite successfully. “Idea in Karnataka has been growing consistently, quarter on quarter, in a turbulent market and gaining market share,” he says. “We hope to sustain our growth in the future too.”

Ganapathi believes that his ability to “relentlessly” focus on all aspects of the business will help him achieve these goals. He states, “The key is to maintain focus while keeping your mind open to new opportunities.” 

Besides his professional strengths, his family has also been a source of support and inspiration. “My wife Gayathri is an exceptionally talented person,” he says. She has done a lot of work in the area of self-help, having learnt various related subjects from teachers around the world. We complement and support each other’s work, which makes it easy for both of us to pursue our areas of work harmoniously. We have two children, Vaishnavi and Vagish, who go to school in Bangalore.”

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