The CEO Factory by Sudhir Sitapati


Sudhir Sitapati

  Leadership, Culture, Management

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Amazing collection of stories from HUL

Sudhir's book is amazing. I wish I had read this while in bSchool or before i decided to do my MBA.

Thing is, I used to feel that FMCG is all soap and oil - just sales and "convincing" people to buy. I ended up taking no elective marketing courses - thinking it is so obvious. They have un-necessarily built frameworks and concepts and jargons around it.

Fast forward two decades, and I know better. There is no business without sales. There is no business without understanding how to communicate - marketing.

Anyway, coming back to the book - an amazing collection of stories from HUL.

Sudhir mentions that the 4 reasons of HUL's success given by Harish Manwani

  • Middle class soul
  • Meritocratic culture
  • Managers comfortable in villages n global metros
  • Unchanging core values

5th - (sudhir's own ) the ability to mould employees into entrepreneur professionals.

Middle class culture at HUL is typified by - frugality, hard working, hierarchical. Creates an environment with Hunger to grow.

Some of the highlights for me include

  • The customer insights e.g. Eastern MP vs Western MP had very different lot sizes in which they spent the same amount of money on HUL's baskets. Read the book to find out why. Or the fact that rural women usually washed clothes in a poorly-lit small washroom, and hence their needs from an ideal detergent were very different.
  • The people first culture at HUL - from when Sudhir resigned during his MT stint to how the company executive wrote a letter to the son of an employee who had just passed away. The letter really moved me. Wish we had such empathetic leaders at all levels.
  • Giving ownership to young leaders - most of the stories, have this common thread, a young leader is thrust into a territory with a clear challenge/objective and the company stands behind the young manager's decision and commitment to see it through.
  • Culture of Innovation - hard to put it as a formula, but HUL seems to have done something right consistently.

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A systematic yet engaging analysis of the journey and success of HUL

The CEO Factory is indeed a book about the 'The CEO factory' company HUL. But unlike what the title suggests, it isn't much about the 400+ HUL alumni turned CEOs. Instead, Sudhir Sitapati talks about the history of the organisation and the various internal workings of business operations like sales, marketing, advertising, product, cost management, etc that make HUL what it is today.

Sudhir Sitapati gives an in-depth analysis of all things that sets HUL apart for its uniqueness. it is packed with valuable insights and anecdotes.

Since its expansion into the global market, it extremely focused on delegation. Their tremendous accomplishments in the Indian market itself is a testament to the success of such delegation. 

HUL's massive and complex distribution network is what gives it its cutting edge advantage in the market. Sudhir shares some of the deep insights of certain principles which help you understand the leadership environment at HUL and its culture even better. 

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