Money Control: Do global firms prefer humble Indians as CEOs...
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Do global firms prefer humble Indians as CEOs?

While Facebook appointed former CEO of Star Plus' streaming platform hotstar, Ajit Mohan to head India operations, WhatsApp on Wednesday said it has appointed Ezetap co-founder Abhijit Bose as its India chief.

Source: | Nov 22, 2018 07:06 PM IST

Social media giant Facebook and its messaging platform WhatsApp recently appointed Indian heads, both of whom come from promising but significantly smaller firms.

While Facebook appointed the former CEO of Star Plus' Hotstar, Ajit Mohan, to head India operations, WhatsApp, on November 21, said it has appointed Ezetap co-founder Abhijit Bose as its India chief.

Experts said this is an increasingly common trend, especially in the technology industry.

"Entrepreneurial talent has always been in great demand for quite some time now. In the past too, we have seen lot of large company’s acquihiring smaller companies with the intent to access the expertise and skills of their people. Especially when it comes to acquiring talent in the tech industry," said Pankaj Bansal, founder and CEO of human resource technology company People Strong.

Companies like Facebook and WhatsApp are looking to scale up in India and the “startup” experience of these people would be very relevant in the journey, he added.

Both Mohan and Bose have big challenges ahead of them. The issue of mis-information, often called "fake news", has plagued Facebook and WhatsApp in many geographies they operate in.

Earlier this month, a New York Times investigation raised questions about Facebook's handling of Russian activity that had an adverse impact on US Presidential elections.

In India too, there has been growing discussion on misinformation being spread through WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages going into an election year.

The ongoing discussions have had an impact on the credibility of both platforms.

"It is a really tricky situation right now. It’s good that both Facebook and WhatsApp have got India heads now, but their position is not envious. They have to deal with the monster of fake news, and engage with several stakeholders including government and businesses to re-build faith in these platforms," said a technology analyst who did not wish to be named.

But coming from smaller firms may just as well work in Mohan and Bose's favour.

"We have often found that the CEOs of top companies have been rigid in their beliefs about the way business is done and what constitutes ethical/non-ethical practice, making it a challenge for them to adapt to new workplaces. Those from smaller entities, however, are more liberal and open to discussion,” said the Bangalore-based head of a large recruitment firm.

He added that unlike people from smaller firms, chief executives of top companies have several pre-conceived notions of working.

“People from smaller setups have a fire in their belly and bring tangible experience of the processes and customers," said Sunil Goel, Managing Director, GlobalHunt. "They are also not averse to accepting new changes," he added.

With the scrutiny and questions being asked of WhatsApp and its paremt Facebook showing no signs of dying down anytime soon, these two new leaders will certainly have a lot of challenges coming their way.

Only time will tell how they fare.