Pragati Leadership has sought to usher in a Wholesome Leadership paradigm focusing on Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit for the past 30 years. This effort has taken the form of learning and development programs aimed at fostering a new generation of corporate leadership. This year, we went one step further by recognizing the achievements of a select few leaders whose efforts reflected Wholesome Leadership in the fullest sense. The “Pragati Leadership Inspiring & Successful Leadership Awards 2022” awardees have each achieved business goals while also driving pro-people and sustainability initiatives. 

To select these exemplary leaders, we relied on the wisdom of a few people who are themselves inspiring business and social leaders. Our jury comprised Raman Chadha (ex Head Oil & Gas, Gammon Engineers), Satish Kumar Anavangot (Former MD, Henkel India Limited), Biji K. Kurien (Former MD – CPS Color India, Berger Paints, and Author), Dr. Sayalee Gankar (Vice Chancellor, D. Y. Patil University), S. Deenadayalan (Founder, Center for Excellence in Organization), and Anu Wakhlu (Chairperson and Executive Director, Pragati Leadership). 

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Also among the 2022 cohort of Inspiring & Successful Leaders is Mr. Bharat Puri, the Managing Director of Pidilite Industries. Mr. Puri brought his company back on track to becoming an emerging market multinational, despite it being significantly affected by the pandemic. He has also pivoted towards virtual reality adoption with investments in robotic equipment and virtual reality technology experience centers. Under his stewardship, the company has taken measures to reduce its carbon footprint, and also rose to the occasion during the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting screening and medical camps, distributing masks, and contributing to relief funds.

Mr. Puri accepted the award “on behalf of the whole Pidilite family”, calling it an award for the team he symbolizes. He spoke of how the “seven and a half thousand” strong Pidilite workforce had “put up their hands and said we are here to be counted”, adding that they were trying to create what they called a “pro-neurial culture”, mixing professional and entrepreneurial elements.

Reflecting on his personal journey, he mused that he had had the privilege of working for both Indian companies and MNCs. This experience, he said, led him to attempt combining the best of both at Pidilite. In his words, “can you get the capability, the systems, the rigor, and the capital allocation of a good MNC? Can you have the flexibility, agility, speed, apolitical nature, and risk-taking nature of a good Indian company?” 

Mr. Puri believes organizations that can create a culture wherein people are willing to experiment all the time, not afraid to fail, and are smiling a lot more often than frowning are on the right track. This, for him, is the journey that Pidilite has undertaken, although “by no means have we reached anywhere near the destination”. Acknowledging his “privilege of learning” from Pragati Leadership co-founder Arun Wakhlu, he commended the latter on the awards initiative.

Mr. Puri joined Pidilite Industries as an Independent Director in 2008, before which he was President – Global Chocolate, Gum, and Candy Categories at Mondelez International. An alumnus of IIM, Ahmedabad, Mr. Puri started his career with Asian Paints in 1982, and later wore several hats at Cadbury India and South Asia.