Selfie with RK: Week #6 | Neelima Burra, CMO & Biz Head – Organised Retail & Olive Oil, Cargill Foods

19 Aug,2016

By Rahul Kishore


It is very easy to be friends with Neelima Burra. I just made one phone call and she agreed to meet me immediately on Rakhsha Bandhan which was a holiday for all in Delhi NCR. Once I was done with the rapidfire, I came away thinking that I’d made a new friend who was vibrant, approachable, free-speaking and sincere. Such is her charm. Neelima is married and has an 11-year-old daughter and a  two-year-old Bull Mastiff called Bruno. This is her support system. I began by asking Neelima…


What’s your biggest strength?

Spontaneous and approachable nature along with a ready smile and positivity are my biggest strengths.


What’s your biggest weakness then?

The same as my strengths. My approachability is often taken for granted and my principles often get compromised. I do manage to deal with them later on, however.


Favourite CEO?

Vineeta Bali personally is my favourite. Having worked closely with her during the Tiger biscuit launch, I was witness to her entrepreneurship. Women have to command respect at the boardroom level and this is what I learnt from her. She worked harder than most and did it quite effortlessly


Hardwork or luck?

Hardwork always, along with persevearance and a never-give-up attitude. You must love you job that you do. I have been good to myself and worked very hard and my bosses therefore have been good to me. Simply because I always got the job done!


How would you like to live your life all over again?

The same way. I would like to balance my family life a little better. I tend to spend too much time at work.


If a movie were to be made about your life who would you like to play you?

Neelima smiles again… Strangely enough, I’d like to play myself. I know me better than anybody else. I come from a small town, there is no MBA in my family and no one has reached this level. I take tremendous pride in reaching where I have. There’d be a struggle to manage the drama and aspirations in my life and therefore this role only I could play, is her frank answer


On a scale of 1-10 how weird are you?

I would say 7-8. I’m quite weird. I’m finicky and I have a persevearing nature. I’m also spontaneous. This to me seems weird in a methodical world.


Four words that describe you?

Spontaneous, Honest, Loyal, Hardworking.


What are your super powers?

My extremely high emotional quotient. I feel EQ is more important that IQ. My big strength is having an intuition about events, people and the future, very often I have a sixth  sense and I’m always proved right.


How often do you de-stress?

Daily. I spend a lot of time with my pet, daughter and husband. Once I’m home it’s a different world altogether. I do some meditiation  and gym once in a while. I played basketball at the district and school levels and very often play with my 11-year-old daughter. I also like listening to old classical music, Lata Mangeshkar being a perennial favourite. I very often wake up at 4 am and have chats with my daughter, this really de-stresses me.


Somethng that has never worked for you?

Monotony in any form at work or in life has never worked for me… I hate being at the same place doing the same thing everyday.


Dream job?

Doing exactly what I’m doing. Creating jobs and brands and would carry on like this. However, I must say: I don’t see my job as a job. It’s a way of life.


If Bill Gates gave you 10 million US  dollars to change something what would it be?

Right from my days at Hindustan Latex when I distributed free condoms and pills as part of a social marketing exercise in villages to the time I worked with Britannia and provided free Tiger biscuits as part of a mid-day meal scheme, I’ve always thought it necessary to empower and educate women, discuss sanitation, their menstruation cycles, give them courage and handholding as part of my outreach to society. When I was in Usha International, we provided women with sewing machines so as to help them earn a livelihood for themselves. I think I would use this money to empower women and provide nourishment to them.


Rate RK as an interviewer

She smiles. 9/10. You’ve made me very comfortable in such a short time and I have found it very easy to chat with you openly. Keep in touch!


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