Emotional Swaroop returns to India after tenure as Airtel Nigeria CEO

Posted by News Express | 3 April 2013 | 4,647 times

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Rajan Swaroop, until lately Chief Executive Officer of leading telco Airtel Nigeria, returns to his home country India today with fond memories of his close to three years stay in Nigeria.

“My stay in Nigeria has been humbling and educative,” Swaroop said last night at the last of a series of send forth ceremonies organised in his honour by appreciative colleagues and business partners. “I tried to understand Nigeria because you cannot succeed in business unless you understand the country in which you are operating,” he further said.

Giving an insight into how he was able to successfully oversee the transformation of the company formerly trading as Zain before its purchase by Barti Airtel of India, Swaroop said he tried to make listening a part of his management strategy. “Listening is part of the management process, not an option,” he stated.

He also said he constantly asked what could be done to take Airtel Nigeria to greater heights. “We should always ask ourselves, ‘How do we bring about a better tomorrow?’ As we ask that question, that is how we can become better than the best,” he said.  

The man who adapted so well to Nigeria that he became known as “Omo Akin” (Yoruba for “son of the soil” or “native”) spoke fondly of how he enjoyed working in Africa’s most populous country as well as visiting various parts of the country. He expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their warmth and for the love they showed him.   

Paying tribute to Swaroop, who was addressed by his first name throughout the gathering held at Ember Creek Ikoyi, Lagos, Emeka Oparah, Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, thanked him for the “talismanic way” he ran the company. “Rajan was passionate in the way he evoked emotions about the company,” Emeka said.

Also paying tribute, Chido Nwakanma, CEO of Blueflower Communications, which holds Airtel Nigeria’s PR account, described Swaroop as “not your typical boss,” saying: “He always wants to listen to your opinion.”

On his part, Otis Ojeikho, CEO of Brand Footprints, which handles Airtel Nigeria’s events, described Swaroop as “a good man who appreciates you if you are good, whether you are rich or poor.” He further described him as “the first CEO who would come to an event five hours in advance to check if everything is in order.”

Tributes also came from Airtel Nigeria’s Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director, Deepak Srivastava; Company Secretary Ibiroba Adekola, Director of Customer Service, Ajay Bakshi; Human Resources Director, Jubril Saba; Chief Marketing Officier, Olu Akanmu; and Chief Technical Officer, Awadesh Kalia.   

Organised by Blueflower Communications and Brand Footprints, last night’s send forth came exactly ten days after the one by Airtel Nigeria Management at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, at which Swaroop beat the Nigerian talking drum and passed it on to his successor, Segun Ogunsanya, symbolising a seamless leadership change at the leading telecom company.

Swaroop, who ran Airtel Nigeria from May 2010 to March 2013, is credited with leading the turnaround team that stabilised and rapidly grew the company. An engineer and management expert with degrees from the respected Indian Institute of Technology and a pioneer executive in the Indian GSM sector, Swaroop remains on the Board of Airtel Nigeria and is expected to attend Board meetings.

Photo: Swaroop receiving a gift at the last of a series of send forth ceremonies . . . last night in Lagos.

Source: News Express

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