Pankaj Makkar, Tennis player, team player, talent promoter, Bertelsmann corporate culture cultivator, uniting the traditional and the modern. Family ties reinforcer, start-up engineer, laying the foundations for new business in India. Managing Director Bertelsmann India Corporate Center, Bertelsmann India Investments, Delhi.
"Delhi is the power centre of India"
"Almost ten million people live and work in the capital city, the world’s largest democracy has its government offices here, and the city is really active," says Pankaj Makkar, explaining why the Indian metropolis is the best place in the vast South Asian country for Bertelsmann’s new Corporate Center. The center was set up two years ago, but the business divisions of Bertelsmann already had a presence in India prior to that. "This is an important market for Bertelsmann's international growth, but at the same time, the investments are also important for India."
Rather than focusing solely on the country, as Managing Director of the Corporate Center India, Pankaj Makkar has to keep sight of the overall objective: "We are not working on building a local Indian business operation here; we are part of a global company. Which means we have to have a global mindset. Yes, media businesses are local, but our approach is global."
"So we are combining the best of globalization and localization to build our business."
The foundation for success has already been laid, so Pankaj, now the focus is on expanding the activities through targeted investment.
"When I look at our industry, I see a massive, creative and content-based market for young and old. Our commercial operations at Penguin Random House are running well, as are the TV shows that are currently being produced by Fremantle. The demand for formats like India’s Got Talent or X Factor is huge. I’m really excited about that and it also makes me optimistic about the future. Yet, at the same time, competition is fierce in all these segments, which is precisely why we have to establish a business division here that is not just a fad, but can bring long-term value for Bertelsmann," he asserts.
In these exciting times, Pankaj cannot think of a better job than his. "I love my work. This is my dream job. If I didn’t have to worry about income for a year, I think I would still continue to do what I’m doing. I’m passionate about what I do and I don’t think I would want to change that. I love every aspect of my work. The only thing that I might possibly change would be to do a little less travelling, so I could spend more time with my family." Pankaj has been married to his wife Treta for two years, and they live together with his parents in a suburb of Delhi. "In India it is quite common to live with your parents. I enjoy spending time with them, especially now that they’re getting older." He would also like to be able to spend more time with his wife: "Treta and I are both busy professionals and we therefore both understand the passion and dedication we each have for our work. I love that about my wife," Pankaj says. "If we had more time for each other, I would like to go to the cinema more often because we both love movies."
Because of his frequent traveling, time with his team is limited, but all the more enjoyable.
"I don’t understand the concept of ‘Monday blues’. That never happens to me. I think it’s because we have so much fun."
"In the past few years we’ve attended some great team-building seminars and that has really helped us to bond. I am happy to say that to date we have no staff attrition here at the center. I think that’s a factor of how happy people are to work here and how excited I am to work here, too."
Pankaj Makkar joined Bertelsmann five years ago. "What attracted me here was the family atmosphere. Everyone is extremely warm and cooperative. And they matched the kind of values that I would manage my own company with. All in all, Bertelsmann offered me everything that a young executive with high ambitions needs to build a career." The most profound and impressive experience the young business professional has had with the company was the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurs Program. Now he is tasked with establishing the basic structures for Bertelsmann India business. "The program is absolutely unique. I've never seen anything like it before in another organization," Pankaj enthuses. "The program gave me the opportunity to work on multiple and very diverse projects. It’s allowed me to build up exactly the skills I needed to lead a business division like this one. That was inspirational and I don’t think any other training could have delivered an outcome like that."
When he looks back on his career to date, Pankaj says he is extremely excited by the way things have shaped up so far. "Up to now everything has worked out just as I had envisaged," he muses. Though, of course, there have been challenges too: "One of the biggest difficulties in our industry is that we are constantly fighting against time. For example, we always have to make sure that we launch our products faster than our competitors. This is also true for investments. We have to keep our eye on the ball at all times to ensure that we steer our business in the right direction, and do so at a rapid pace." It is therefore crucial for Pankaj to have a competent team in place even before their specific skills are required. Together with his team, he is building bridges not just across generations, but also across continents.
Pankaj tries not to get affected by stress. "I try to focus on the input and not on the output. It’s the output that causes stress. I can influence the input by ensuring that certain activities get done. The output will then hopefully be all right as a consequence," he explains. But the biggest stress-buster for him is to be able to return home to his family in the evening, satisfied after a good day at work. "Spending quality time with my family is very important to me. When I come home to my wife and we sit down together or go for a walk in the evening, that gives me a sense of stability and security. It’s a part of my life that I would never want to change. And I think that’s also the reason I get up again the next morning feeling passionate and happy about my work."