Straight from XLRI into Marketing Research (MR) is not the usual route someone took in HLL (as it was known at that time). But, thanks to Alex Mitchel, the head of MR who was in a hurry to bring about to change in the department, thats where I was put. And within a year Labdhi was also shifted to MR, to head the Client Services Group. This again sent the right signal that MR means business. And Labdhi did mean business.
He is an example of intellectual pride used to an advantage. He knew his strengths and constantly searched for new skills to build on. He couldn't suffer fools and was impatient when he was with them.
Years later, after even I had left HLL and was working in Reckitt & Colman, we met in Madras at the The Connemara Hotel. By then, he was on the boards of several companies besides being at IIM Ahmedabad. I was happy to receive very specific insights into his experiences with people and products...and his arrogance is what I enjoyed the most.
But the story I repeat almost every month is about a Rajasthani youth who could speak only hindi till he joined IIM A and then clawed himself up to the standards of those who were privleged to have gone to the English medium schools, and was with in a year or so was in sync with whatever they could converse on. Credit to IIM to have reposed faith in LRB and for him to make use of the opportunity. He never tired of rubbing this into me and especially when he corrected the english in my project report with great delight. I still cherish my association with him, and my heart broke when I saw his name among the IA crash victims.
*Ronald D'Costa was LRB's colleague at Hindustan Lever and is now the owner of The Boulevard Hotel in Jamshedpur.
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