For business journalists, especially those dealing with the telecom sector, Akhil Gupta is a familiar and friendly face. Bharti Enterprises’ and Bharti Airtel’s journey through the telecom world is now part of history and in this journey Akhil, as he is popularly known, is an old traveller, always by the side of promoter-chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. Akhil’s bonding with the Bharti Group and Mittal is so thick that he’s often referred to as the fourth brother of the group—Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Rajan Bharti Mittal are the two other brothers, and the trio form the Bharti family.
Akhil’s USP is his ability to always calmly and logically explain any facet of Bharti’s business and there’s nobody who can equal his expertise if it’s anything related to numbers. Apart from steering Bharti’s businesses, Akhil has deep interest in public affairs and is known for penning articles in newspapers on governance and other public policy issues. Therefore, when I learned that he is coming out with a book, naturally I felt it would be his take on several macro issues dealing with businesses and policies and the way forward. A Bharti story was unlikely, as he rightly pointed out in the preface, that that’s best left for Sunil Mittal to write.
However, let me be frank in stating that I felt a trifle disappointed with Akhil’s Some Sizes Fit All. While there is no quarrel with the content— one can’t challenge Akhil on his facts, which he has lucidly narrated in the book in the most logical manner, the disappointment is that one expected him to take on a larger canvas, but he has limited himself to the basics of business and how to run it efficiently. Though that has been done brilliantly, Akhil could have pushed himself beyond the familiar boundaries of his daily work. The way the book has been written it can best be described as a management guide and would be helpful for managers and students of business management.
The basic concept of Akhil’s book is that there are certain fundamentals of business that are universally applicable cutting across geographies and sectors, therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be faulted in this aspect. Of course, within the larger framework, there are micro aspects that require tweaking, depending on the line of business, which is explained in almost all the chapters. The one-size-fits-all approach is generally faulted in political economy where similar policies cannot be applied in different geographies because other factors— social, political, cultural, demographic, etc—may differ.
However, in public policy also, like businesses, several core principles like transparency, democracy, independent judiciary, sound regulatory framework, good governance, etc, are universally applicable across boundaries.
In his book, Akhil guides the reader on virtually every aspect of business, right from conceptualising it to delivery, taking into account the organisational structure, human resources, funding, accounting and audit, marketing, and communication. Certain case studies have been given from Bharti itself, especially the company’s outsourcing of IT and networks to companies having core competency in these domains, something which subsequently became a standard practice in the telecom sector. Normally, in books on business management, case studies across spectrum make a better case, but since Akhil has spent his lifetime in the Bharti Group, he may have been constrained on this front.
The book is a good read from purely a business book point of view with the intricacies explained in a simple manner. One hopes that this is not Akhil’s last book and he comes out with one that deals with macro issues and intersection of business and public policy.
BOOK DETAILS: Some Sizes Fit All by Akhil Gupta
Penguin Random House
Pp224, Rs 599