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Sanjeev Goenka | New entity will avoid conflict in succession

Sanjeev Goenka | New entity will avoid conflict in succession
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First Published: Thu, Jul 14 2011. 01 15 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Jul 14 2011. 01 55 PM IST
Kolkata: At 10am on Wednesday, Sanjiv Goenka unveiled the corporate identity of the new group that he would lead—the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group —to an audience of some 16,000 of his employees, launching them in the pursuit of building “another magnificent legacy”.
The “auspicious moment” for the announcement was decided by his father Rama Prasad Goenka, said Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of the new group, at a press conference. “Father believes in these things.”
“It remains one family, one inheritance and one legacy,” Sanjiv Goenka told reporters. In an interview, Goenka said he wasn’t trying to distance himself from the 190-year-old legacy of the Goenka family. Edited excerpts:
What is going to be your father’s role under the new dispensation?
It’s going to be pretty much the same as now—a guide, mentor and the chairman emeritus of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group. That apart, he will continue to be the chairman of CESC and Saregama, and chairman emeritus of Phillips Carbon Black.
So you aren’t allowing him to retire even now?
No, he must continue to do what he has been doing for the past few years… I don’t think he has a choice.
What led to the creation of this new corporate identity for your companies?
Following the separation of businesses, my father created RPG Enterprises as a corporate identity for companies controlled by him. This happened in the mid-1980s, and RPG Enterprises has come a long way since. But now we have a situation where we must pre-empt a potential conflict or confusion stemming from the common use of RPG Enterprises by me and my brother (Harsh Goenka)—we both have equal right to and ownership of RPG Enterprises, which was the corporate identity of the undivided group.
The relationship between me and my brother are cordial, and I don’t want my son and nephew to be faced by a potential conflict or confusion over the corporate identity of their businesses.
How did your father react to this?
He is a man of great foresight… It was he who separated the businesses for us, and he thought this, too, was the right thing to do at this point. For the past six months, he was involved with this exercise at different stages of evolution of this new corporate identity.
Did you consult your brother on this?
All our lives we have worked as a team. On certain occasions, I miss that, especially when confronted by difficult decisions. But on this issue, I did not consult him…because I did not need to. We are in touch, though not as often as in the past.
Could you please explain the thought behind the catchline of your new corporate identity—“growing legacies”?
Initially, we had some 70-80 options in terms of design, name and positioning. We thought whether at all to have any proper noun in it—RPG, Sanjiv Goenka—or choose a name that best represents what the group stands for.
To determine what would work best, we conducted a pan-India survey with a very large sample of some 10,000 people, most of them randomly chosen. The survey revealed that though RPG Enterprises had a strong recall, people didn’t associate it with our companies such as CESC or Ceat.
But at the same time, when in the survey we spoke of these companies, people could immediately relate to names such as R.P. Goenka, Sanjiv Goenka and so on.
It is a strange thing: people couldn’t associate RPG Enterprises with its companies, but they could associate these companies with the Goenka family.
That led us to decide that our new corporate identity must have our names in it, though this wasn’t our first choice—we had initially decided not to have our names in it at all.
Also, you must remember that most of our businesses—CESC, Saregama, Spencer’s—are more than 100 years old. The youngest business in my group is Phillips Carbon Black, which, too, is 50 years old. That apart, the legacy of the Goenka family, which migrated to Kolkata from Dundlod, a small village in Rajasthan, is some 190 years old.
Clearly, we have a long legacy, which we are proud of and from which we don’t wish to distance ourselves. With benchmarks of success changing with time, we wish to build on our legacy, not only in terms of capacity, but by reinventing our businesses.
Your son Shashwat Goenka, who is now 21, is set to join the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group in a year after graduating from Wharton. What are your thoughts for him? Do you advise him to be as aggressive as your father, or cautious like you?
I, too, was very aggressive initially—a little impatient, if you like—but with age, I became a lot more cautious. Talking of my son, I expect him to be more aggressive than both me and my father.
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First Published: Thu, Jul 14 2011. 01 15 AM IST