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From CEG to CEO - Interview with Airtel Broadband's CEO

The moment he is asked for an interview, Mr. Hemanth Kumar Guruswamy, CEO, Airtel Broadband, breaks into a smile and asks the first question. “Enna pa keka pora? Easy-a kelu, badhil solra maari.” Carrying with him his trademark witty demeanour from his guest lecture, he answered our questions in a very captivating manner.

Tell us about your good old days.

I always prioritised fun over everything else. I was extraordinarily privileged to have a family that focussed on education and extraordinarily lucky to be educated in a premier institution like this. I had the awareness and input to plan my career ahead with a lot of help from seniors and family.

What do you consider as your greatest achievements?

My greatest achievements would be what I went after and got. So I would include getting into CEG, IIM and my current role at Airtel as my greatest achievements.

What was your experience at Airtel during the floods?

The entire telecom industry and the entire electricity department had worked overtime to set right the situation. Some of us had no sleep for over three days trying to restore the networks. People were flown in from the neighbouring states to work in geographies they had no idea about. People had their houses flooded and couldn’t contact their own families, yet were working to ensure connectivity for everyone. Sometimes we had to even swim through water to restore lines. It was an incredibly humbling experience and I understand that we were of some use to help the society.

How did CEG help you in areas, other than academics?

25% of the time I was not even attending class. There would be a group of us who would participate in all the cultural events and would be the first to organise the events in college. We would be in class only for the required amount of time. Most of the time, we would be at the Director’s (At their time here, it was the Director, not the Dean) Office trying to get OD certificates. The beauty of CEG is that it gives you that environment which treats you as a responsible adult who can make informed choices for yourself. If you want to study, study. If you want to generally let go, let go.

So, what differences do you see between CEG then, and CEG now?

I feel everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed. I used to remember we had to struggle to fill halls, but now, as I walked in I was reasonably happy with the nearly full auditorium and was pleasantly shocked to hear that more are on their way as it was lunch. I can see that students are being more informed nowadays.

How has your experience at Kurukshetra been?

I saw some really interesting projects today. We definitely didn’t make such projects back then. I was more into theory. We didn’t have the concept of Kurukshetra back then – we only organised events like Techofes. It is great to see students working on technology.

What is the message that you want us to take away from you?

"I’ve not become such a great guy to give messages", he says humbly and then  goes on to quote himself from his guest lecture “Have fun. Commit Early. Build Expertise."

The Guindy Times thanks Mr.Hemanth for his time and patience.

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