A man with a golden heart. That was the Deepak Khaitan I knew for close to 30 years. Fearless in business, courageous, a risk taker, and a true, true friend if ever there has been one. With a “never say die” and “never give up” attitude throughout his life whatever came his way!
He stood by his family and his people through everything. They were the most important part of his life. In the ups and, often, the downs of business, Deepak always remained stoic, calm, unruffled. At the best of times and, more importantly, at the worst of times. He continued with a positive outlook and always looked for solutions to a problem, rather than getting bogged down by the problem itself. He was always eager to learn, seeking advice with a very rare humility, that for someone in his position and his status.
In the areas he was unfamiliar with, he was never afraid to say, “I don’t know”. This humility and desire to learn I saw him exhibit time and time again. I remember when the Group acquired Eveready he did not know much — in fact very little — about consumer marketing or sales. Deepak decided that it was imperative that he learn and as quickly as possible. So he travelled the length and breadth of India, month after month, for a few years. He made retailer calls, visited distributors, met the sales force, attended consumer focus groups and research presentations. He organised an Yearly All India Sales Conference for the entire sales force!
His travel was physically punishing and relentless. He was determined he was not going to be a boss sitting in an air-conditioned office. Deepak, to his credit, spent years understanding the intricacies of the consumer marketing and with the enthusiasm of a child. This single-minded dedication of living and breathing the task on hand was a quality that endeared Deepak to his colleagues.
The sheer courage Deepak showed all of us while dealing with his protracted illness had to be seen to be believed. Never once did he complain of his situation.
Deepak and I shared a common passion — our love for horses and racing. It brought us closer together as friends and also as partners. He was a very warm and caring person and always very attentive to the needs of others. He cared for his employees and their well-being was of great importance to him.
Deepak Khaitan, I dare say, had a heart of gold and I, among possibly countless others, have both experienced this and can vouch for it first-hand.
By Diwan Arun Nanda
The author is chairman, Rediffusion DY&R