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Ashoo Sethi, Chief Operating Officer, Mumbai and Maharashtra Circle, SSTL

February 25, 2011
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A  career in telecom was never Ashoo Sethi’s first choice. In his younger days, he wanted to join the defence forces but his parents wanted him to become a doctor. In the end, neither got their way as Sethi ended with a sales trainee job with Usha International.

Nevertheless, looking back, he says he has had quite a satisfying career so far. He worked with Usha International for 11 years in various capacities. His stint with telecom began with Vodafone Essar (then Hutch) in Gujarat. Thereafter, he looked after the company’s Rajasthan and Mumbai operations. He then moved to Aircel as business head of its Kolkata/West Bengal operations.

Today, Sethi is COO, Mumbai and Maharashtra circle with Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL). In this role, he has to contend with various challenges and meet tight deadlines. The biggest challenge before him, he explains, is to obtain a thorough understanding of the customer’s requirements. Keeping in mind that telecom is a consumer-driven business, it is important to align the company with the aspirations of its customers. Therefore, the target before him is to ensure product innovation so as to become the customer’s most preferred operator.

Sethi believes in a liberal management style. He explains, “I believe it is very important for people to have their own space while working. An ideal work environment is one where people can exercise their rights and deliver as per the company’s business requirements. People should enjoy what they do.”

Interestingly, he says that the commonly held belief that as employees climb the corporate ladder, they become more political does not apply to him. “I would have loved to have become more political,” he explains. “I believe that it is more important to understand people and their needs, and encourage the team to adopt a performance-driven approach.”

Sethi sees his stint with Aircel as his most memorable yet. “There have been different challenges associated with different assignments during my career. However, one of the most memorable assignments came whilst I was with Aircel. My team improved the performance of the Kolkata/West Bengal circles three-fold in one year. Not many people had faith in our abilities, but we were determined to prove ourselves and deliver within the stipulated timelines. Of course, the management trusted us, which made a lot of difference.” 

Sethi likes to keep himself busy on the personal front as well. He enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and sometimes  was the compere at an odd event or two.

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