Hailing from the Marwari community that has its origins in Rajasthan, Balakrishna Goenka, chairman, Welspun Group, tells Hindustan Times that home-grown lessons - gleaned from everyday conversations in the family - in business do not necessarily translate into leadership skills, as those are some things one can only be born with, and not acquired. Excerpts:
Marwaris and business always seem to go hand-in-hand - what's the connection?
For Marwaris, business is in their blood, it is in the DNA. This is so as 90% of the families are in business. You live in a business environment all your life. Since childhood, you see your father, grandfather, talking about business most of the time. You get maximum values and learning from your family and friends. Your mind is tuned to do business and generation to generation it goes on.
So, what's the most valuable lesson you have learnt?
One of my elders told me when I was nine; you have to be in the top three in whatever you do. If you are fourth or fifth, you will be considered an 'also-ran', and it's not worth the effort it. So, we like to be among top three in every business we do.
Did your education help you acquire leadership skills?
I believe leading is a natural instinct. You are a born leader. You cannot make someone a leader by education and cannot change certain character traits. A leader should be bold and able to take decisions, for which one need to have guts. In a family, all four brothers cannot be a leader.
So if leadership can't be taught, does that mean B-schools are a waste of money?
What does this MBA give? MBA is one course which gives you a 360 degree perspective about business. MBA is a big help. Given a chance, I myself would like to do it. But that doesn't mean that it is the only way to succeed. It's not necessary to have an MBA. I think one should have common sense, which is more important.
And who do think have more common-sense - MBAs or non-MBAs?...
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