Coffee & Conversations with Rahul Kishore: Week #2: Maheshwer Peri

27 Mar,2015

By Rahul Kishore

 

Maheshwer Peri strikes you as no-nonsense , gritty with a fun side, hard taskmaster kind of guy when you first meet him. He is. But with a smart and funny side. A guy who’s totally on the ball with all that is going on around him whether it be politics, news channels, print or his love: Education. I met him over a cup of coffee and began by asking him:

 

Do you consider yourself lucky?

Yes! All my breaks have come because of luck. I was  an investment banker with Hathway Investments and we decided to get into the publishing business and Outlook was born. I became a publisher by chance. Got into education by chance too. Luck has a role if you grab it. Bosses were good to me but they couldn’t have been otherwise also. I am humble, nice to work with, retreat easily if I feel it’s right to do so and not a sycophant at all.

 

The beliefs that define his ‘Outlook’ in life?

I am ethical he says. It’s a good business practice these days to survive. Those who say ethics for any other reason are not right. We live in an extremely transparent world where the slightest mistake can be easily highlighted. It can completely result in the collapse of the business.

 

Punctual.I hate people waiting for me.I always am punctual.

 

I am not surrounded by ‘yes’ men. If we go for a presentation as a team, it’s difficult to tell who is the leader of the team. Gradually that happens, but I allow any and all to lead if we feel that is the right way forward. People are encouraged to say what is right.

 

How does he destress?

With his kids, he says.The younger one especially. Walks often to Sanjay Van from Vasant kunj where he lives. He has chosen a middle class locality deliberately to reside in as he wants his kids to grow up imbibing these very values. He often gets off his car and walks home if the mood takes him. Every two years, he takes off to a healing farm to detox and clear his mind. Also makes his business plans here. Holidays once a year mostly in game parks in India.

 

If a movie were to be made about his life, who would he want to play him?

Ayushman Khurana is his answer. Why, I ask. Because he’s normal. He’s human, has no halo. Has a child in him, like I do. Also can act stupid at times. He can also show the fighter and grit in me. His answer floored me…

 

Dream job?

Lawyer, he says. You will find him practising law and helping the poor once he retires. Getting a law degree is very much on his mind, he says. Also wants to educate people and harness the fire in their belly. This fire, he says, is wasted in stone-pelting, rebellion and aggression. This needs to be harnessed. The politicians have failed us. We should channelise this into some constructive activity. That would be something I would like to achieve

 

If Bill Gates walked in with a hundred million, what’s the one big idea that Mahesh would offer to change the world with the money?

The words demographic dividend excite him. People think building roads is investment, education is social welfare. Actually we need to invest in people. Educate them. Invest in people instead of plants and machinery.

 

Work pattern that works for him?

I work six days a week. My phone is always on and I reply almost in under 30 minutes each time, if busy. Sunday is an off day. I have a small team and I work with them closely, he says.

 

One word that describes him

Outspoken. Being a typical Arian, this bluntness comes out. He is a no-nonsense guy. No time to waste on unnecessary social graces.

 

A CEO he admires?

Azim Premji… a near-instant instant response.

 

Loves the social side, the philantrophy, his simplicity and his sense of ethics.It is okay to be like him and still make those billions.

 

What animal do you like?

Elephant. Elephants are humble, keep to themselves and are not bothered by anyone.

 

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