The Patrao Phenomenon

Many years ago, I was greatly impressed when the fabrics tycoon Vijaypat Singhania, an aviation freak – made his 8,000 km death-defying journey from the UK to India on a microlight aircraft. Soon, his company, Raymond’s brought out a limited edition suitlength commemorating the journey of their top boss branded as what else “Microlite”. To the advertising student in me, this was a huge eureka moment, when the successful traits of a promoter get branded and marketed by his company.

As one delved deeper into the world of business, I came across various business personalities who would be the brand ambassadors of their companies. Their personalities became the leitmotif of their company’s public posture.

JRD Tata represented trust, uprightness, Indian-ness and frugality. His being a stickler for exacting standards was demonstrated in the way he handled the entire operations of Air India, before it was nationalised. He even made audacious attempts by petitioning the Prime Minister, with whom he had a strong personal rapport, to rethink the nationalisation bid. Of course, his concerns have proved right today.

Being fastidious about quality is a Tata family trait. Way back in 1902, when the Taj Mahal hotel was taking shape at Apollo Bunder, Bombay, the Tata empire founder, Jamsetji had procured some of the most exotic finery from the world over. In 1902, he visited London, Dusseldorf, Berlin and Paris to shop for the hotel. While in Paris for the exhibition of the opening of the Eiffel Tower, he procured pillars of spun iron for the first time. He ordered ten to be shipped home for his hotel. Today they seem indestructible as they hold up the Ballroom of the Taj.

Brand owners like Richard Branson have gone a step further and made themselves brand ambassadors of other brands like Samsonite. His being a maverick, shirtsleeves rolled up, on-the-move entrepreneur is stuff that legends are made of. When asked how to become a millionaire, he famously said – “Start off with a billion in your hands and get into the airlines business!” That notwithstanding, his Virgin Group has been a nimble-footed, always-with-the-times success story.

Modern Indian entrepreneurs like N R Narayana Murthy of Infosys have also made a huge impact on the bourses by standing for rectitude and upright corporate governance, not to mention making middle-class values a cool statement.

As a businessman, who tried to be a Branson in India, Vijay Mallya did a pretty good job, till things came to pass the way it has been. I feel, had he owned up moral responsibility and had paid up his staff salaries, his public image would have been so much better. At his peak, he was undoubtedly the face of Indian Inc. It’s a pity that he had to fade out the way he did.

In Goa, an enterprise is always identified with the ‘patrao’. So unwittingly the owner of any business is the brand ambassador. One of the first things that a customer will ask is about the ownership of the concern that s/he is dealing with. I know of many Goan entrepreneurs, who, on the strength of their name command a premium on the market price, especially in businesses like real estate.

Trust, delivery, uprightness, owning up, going-that-extra-mile are not just jargons in the business lexicon. These are qualities that every customer; external or internal, still seek from who they do business with.

As we place before you this special 8th anniversary edition of Goa’s only business magazine, I live in hope that we have stood for all the right things that I have mentioned in this editorial.

Business Goa, in retrospect, is an ambitious enterprise. But long before, its first issue hit the news-stands eight years ago; this is exactly as I envisaged it. I stand grateful and humbled for your patronage. Stay with us, as you always have.

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