I am writing this while I am flying to Austin to attend a meeting related to my new job, and it is just sinking in that my time at the helm of our India business is over, and that I need to find new ways to define what I do, and what my professional dreams are. I also feel the urge to say something by way of farewell, even if that sounds a little arrogant. A lot of you were at the farewell party that was thrown for me (thank you for that! I have never had so many people say so many lovely things about me!) and so what follows is not new to you, since it is what I said in my little speech. But since many of you were not there, and since I was about sixteen drinks down by then and am not sure exactly what I said (I seem to recall rambling about death and music), here is the speech I wrote out for myself and meant to deliver.
Also, I figure I should do this via the blog, in the vain hope that it will get some people writing again! Ok, here goes:
"Its been such a long time since I announced my intention to leave that I bet many of you thought I was never going. Well I am. This week. Really. You can ask Rajni if you don't believe me. She's booked the ticket. One way. Via Austin, Texas for some reason, but it only takes me back to London, not Delhi.
Its been a little over 3 years since a head hunter called me and asked me if I would be interested in joining Pearson. And you know there's only one possible response to that - Pearson? What's that?! The company which owns Penguin? Wow! And the FT? Wow! And the Economist? Yes, but you're not going to handle any of those. You're going to manage the Education business. And somehow, that was even more exciting to me. After years of selling razor blades and luxury hotels, I was finally going to do something meaningful with my life.
So I came home and told my then 8 year old son about this. And he says, "Let me get this straight. No more holidays in Bali or 50% discounts at 360. Tell me why this is such a great job?!"
But it is the greatest job on earth. To be able to lead a team of some of the most talented, creative people I have known in trying to shape India's most respected Education brand? I have been truly blessed.
Many great companies struggle to develop one or two new products a year. They make a big song and dance about innovation. We create an average of two new products a day! And we do this while experimenting with different formats, technology products, training teachers in strange places. And making Pearson recognise (as Will Ethridge said when he was here) that India may be the most important place on earth in Pearson. This was my first time as a CEO, and I never realised what an all consuming job it is. For three years I have woken up thinking of Pearson, and gone to bed thinking of Pearson. But you made me successful, and I want to thank you for it.
And it feels strange to be walking away from all this just when it is getting seriously exciting. But I know four things:
1. I know that you have the talent and the vision and the teamwork such that this company can grow despite the leadership.
2. I know that the person we have selected as a successor is a great guy, and all his previous teams have enjoyed working with him.
3. I know that Rajni is still here to arrange his life for him, and make him do everything he needs to, no matter that he might want some time off. Thank you Rajni, you really are the key to my success.
4. And I know that I have made a lot of real friends here. And I know that I am still friends with the people I knew in school, and from college, and from business school, and from my first job in Lintas from 1986 when most of you had parents who were wishing that diaper had been invented. So I am sure that I will remain in touch with you, and that makes it easier to say good bye for now.
Goodbye. For now."
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