Book Review: Half a Century

The Book ‘Half a Century and Still at the Crease’ is written by Paint Industry Veteran Biji K Kurien

The Book is about 50+ years of professional and corporate experience of the author.

The author was trained as an Electrical Engineer from Mysore University and then did his MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad.

He explains the environment/facilities/placements etc at IIM-A in great detail and makes for interesting reading. He topped his batch at IIM-A and I was surprised to see that late PM Indira Gandhi attended the convocation.In that era, IITs & IIMs were considered the pride of India and PMs made it a point to attend the convocations.

The author then found a job with Asian Paints where he was the first MBA to be hired. He was posted as the Branch Manager of the Madras (now Chennai) branch. The author narrates about his experiences there which gives a good perspective about how Indian businesses functioned then.

Then the author moved on as the Marketing Manager to British Paints (now Berger Paints), Kolkata. He later became the MD of the Co.

Large sections of the Book are devoted to his stint there.It covers the paint industry in detail and I found it to be a tedious read. One aspect I found interesting aspect was how there was a lockout in their factory in Communist Bengal and how they managed that. It was truly a master class in crisis management.

The author helped Vijay Mallya take over the co from its British owners and then helped the Singh brothers take it over from Vijay Mallya.

The author was President of Indian Paint Industry and Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry. More sections of the book are devoted to this which are quite a bore to read.

Post retirement, the author started a business consultancy. I found these experiences to be quite illuminating. There is one instance of how he helped a tilemaker reduce his receivables & increase sales. I believe this experience has directly lead to creation of a startup Xuriti (where I am invested)

The author appears to be a very forthright person and this reflects in his writings.

I would recommend this Book only to those interested in Indian Paint Industry.

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