I have very fond memories of Labdhi because of two encounters I had with him. He eluded me in one instance and I managed to get him in the other instance.
My acquaintance with him goes back a long way. Back in 1967, I was the Chief Training Manager at Metal Box and I was responsible for recruiting management trainees, inducting them, etc. That year, I was interviewing candidates from IIM-Ahmedabad with another colleague and Labdhi, who was a student there, was one of the candidates. He was very young, but he was bright. He was very mature in terms of his answers and very forthright. At the interview he told us that he was looking for a consumer product company, but Metal Box is a great name so he would like to consider it. It took us just about 3 seconds after he left the room to decide and we offered him the job. He said, 'please give me some time', because he was also interviewing with Levers (Hindustan Lever). Now, we had a bit of a contest between me and Tarun Sheth, who was my contemporary at Levers, for attracting the best candidates. Tarun managed to swing Labdhi into Levers. I was quite certain that Labdhi was going to join Metal Box, but suddenly I heard from Tarun saying 'Hey, I got him, you lost him buddy!'
Years later, in 1988, I was the Director of HR in Cadbury's India, reporting to my Managing Director. We were having marketing problems with some of our products, largely in the drinks area. We wanted to boost that part up and we also wanted to look at how we could introduce some new products that we had recently developed, but not yet branded. So between the Marketing Director, myself and the Managing Director we decided that we needed a consultant for marketing. The first name that came to my mind was Labdhi, because I had been after him for a long time. And therefore I spoke to him. I decided to pull his leg a bit by reminding of the time when he eluded me. I told him, 'Look you turned up your nose to industrial products and escaped me once. But we are an equally placed FMCG now, so don't say no!', and we both had a hearty laugh.
I was responsible for bringing him over, introducing him and then marketing took over. Vinita Bali, who was the General Manager - Marketing and was leading the project for Cadbury would have been the person he interacted with the most. But, I think, in total, we just had a total of one or two meetings for pinpointing the problem we wanted his help with. Unfortunately, his untimely death meant that he did not get to do anything more with Cadbury.
*Aroon Joshi is an HR professional with a long career spanning over 48 years. He was formerly the Director of HR at Cadbury's India.