“I have tried to adopt what I call the ‘Google’ method in my life” – Mr. Ashish Patil

“I have tried to adopt what I call the ‘Google’ method in my life” – Mr. Ashish Patil

-By Aakash Ghosh,
Senior Coordinator,
Student Media Cell,
PGP 2016-18

IIM Bangalore flagged off the distinguished speaker series for Colloquium 2017, hosted by the Forum for Industrial Interaction, IIM Bangalore!

We at the Student Media Cell, personally interviewed the two speakers who brought in a diverse set of experiences and perspectives! Here is the excerpt from the interview with Mr Ashish Patil, the man who has donned several hats as an Investment Banker, Lawyer, CFO, CA, Author and gave a unique perspective and commentary on recent M&As.

Hello, Mr Ashish Patil ! Welcome to IIM Bangalore. Can you tell us something about how you got started in the corporate career?

To be very frank, I did not have a great start to my career. I did not make it to elite institutions like the IITs or the IIMs at the start of my career. But I didn’t lose heart and kept trying to make myself better. One of the risks of being successful very early in your career is that you risk being side-tracked by success. Since there was no scope for that happening, I kept trying to grow and learn. I have tried to adopt what I call the ‘Google’ method in my life. Most people are not aware that with every search we make on Google, (and there are billions of search queries on Google every day), it makes the system a tiny bit better. Just like you need additional capabilities to grow, organizations need judicious asset management in order to grow, and that is what got started me in my career in an asset management firm.

You have been in the teaching space also, as an Adjunct Faculty in SP Jain Centre of Global Management, Singapore & Dubai also. Can you contrast the experience that you had as a corporate and as a professor?

The major difference I have observed is that the corporate world infuses you with much more resoluteness and firmness of the mind, in contrast to when you are a student. For example, the policy of student feedback in institutions reveals that a significant portion of students are fickle minded in their evaluation of professors, depending on their personal liking of subjects or the professor. This lack of objective feedback hampers the progress of institutes and lowers collaboration between students and professors. In contrast, there is a lot more at stake in a corporate M&A (mergers and acquisitions) deal. There is no scope for any sort of impulsive behaviour, and one has to be very measured as well as focused in his/her approach. I thus stress upon the importance of gaining real world experience in addition to academic studies, in order to truly be able to start making an impact. One piece of advice that I would have for the online and connected generation today is to not give up on reading. Reading gives you immense depth as a person.

Can you tell us something about any memorable experience that you might have had in your career as an M&A person?

M&A has taught me more about life than anything else could have. You will not believe me when I say this, but number crunching is only a very small part of the overall deal. There are aspects of psychology, communication and relationship handling that are immensely critical. Take the case of the Arcelor-Mittal merger from 2006. Mr. Mittal had called up the head of Arcelor, to convey his intention to merge his company with Arcelor. However, Mr. Mittal was not given due importance and he then responded like a ‘spurned lover’. Today, the deal is touted as one of the biggest debacles in M&A history. On the other side, I have also been lucky enough to be part of the LafargeHolcim and ACC merger. It was an incredibly exciting experience for me, and believe me when I say this – it had all the elements of a Bollywood masala movie, with its share of twists and turns and elements of romance as well! The deal was one of tremendous strategic importance of LafargeHolcim, and I do believe that they have effectively shut out all competitors from entering the Indian cement market in the near future.