Shetty’s Stop

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Zero per cent attitude. 100 per cent work.

That’s the first thing you notice on the white board when you enter Sharan Shetty’s cubicle. “It’s zero per cent negative attitude that I am talking about,” clarifies Shetty. And we sit down for a chat that lasts for a little over an hour after a quick photo shoot outside Shoppers’ Stop.

Shetty has been heading Stop as customer care associate and manager (operations) for the past 18 months. Not that he’s never been to Bangalore before. “I studied at Baldwin Boys between 1975 and 1977,” he says. “Since my father was a banker given to frequent transfers, I have studied all over in places like Lucknow, Agra, Trivandrum, Calicut, Ernakulum and Mumbai.”

When he was doing his engineering, the trend was of double degrees. He fell in line by doing a master’s in management studies from the reputable Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. “I was fascinated by the work of advertising agencies and I thought a degree in management would give me that edge,” he says. “But, of course, while doing the course, I realised advertising is not just glamour. It’s a 24/7 job.”

Blue Star in Mumbai was the first to recognise his marketing skills (coincidentally, their Bangalore office is bang opposite Shoppers’ Stop). He joined them as a management trainee and earned Rs 6,000 for it. “I added Bata and Metro shoes to the companies accounts,” he says about the all-India tie-up for air conditioning. A year and a half later, he joined Godrej as a product manager in Mumbai. In a little over three years, he found himself handling 35 people and 30 dealers as branch manager at Godrej Storwel in Bhopal. His effort paid off. In the consumer durables category, Godrej became number one in the region.

Soon, he found himself in Muscat. “I worked for Zubair Corporation and handling the sales of consumer durables for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar,” he says. “I bagged one of the biggest furniture orders for the company and sold 4 million smart cards to Oman Tel.”

Two years later, he chose Bangalore over Mumbai. “My wife got a job at Ramaiah and my in-laws were staying here and I had a job offer from Bangalore and I decided to settle down here,” he says.

The biggest challenge is handling close to 200 people at Shoppers’ Stop and guiding them to make sure the business objectives are met and the customer and employer satisfaction levels are high. “We sell close to 4,000 pieces on weekends and 1,500 on weekdays,” he says. “Last year, our turnover was Rs 43 crore. This year, we have projected Rs 50 crore. Overall, Bangalore is number 3 in sales performance and is one of the most profitable stores in the 13-store chain.”

What’s helped him manage 25,000 sg ft of space (and people) is leading by example. “It could be punctuality, adhering to corporate rules and policies and never giving anybody a chance to point out mistakes of your own,” says Shetty. “I am hell bent and hell focussed on getting deliverables being met to a large extent.”

What does he do about the rotten eggs? “We counsel and re-train such people which are 1-2 per cent of the employee strength,” says Shetty. “And re retain exceptional employees by offering a variable pay packet, out of turn favours like long leaves, counselling and training.”

Another out of turn highlight is on Wednesdays when he picks up his son from school and plays the babysitter. A far cry from his school days when he used to curl up with MAD magazines, collect stamps and listen to radio.

Today, Shetty surfs the Internet, reads business magazines, watches TV (cricket, football and movies, in that order). “I prefer movies that are based on true life, like Erin Brockovich,” he says. But right now, he has set his sights on a gadget. Says he: “I want to buy a fancy digital camera.” And this time, it’s not 100 per cent work.

I, ME, MYSELF
Sharan Shetty, 35
Manager (operations), Shoppers’ Stop
BE (mechanical), Trivandrum
Masters in management studies, Mumbai University
Mangalore-born; in Bangalore for the past 18 months
Previously worked with Blue Star and Godrej
0 per cent negative attitude, 100 per cent work is his corporate mantra
Intends to sell over Rs 50 crore worth of merchandise at Shoppers’ Stop by the end of this financial year
Surfs the Internet; spends time with kids; watches sports on TV;
Wife is a paediatrician with Ramaiah Hospital

(First published in City Reporter, 2003)