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EXCLUSIVE | Aditya Ghosh says people culture his biggest success, owes it to IndiGo founders

Ghosh had a spectacular run at India’s largest airline for nearly 10 years at the top.

April 30, 2018 / 06:29 PM IST
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Aditya Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer, President and Wholetime Director of InterGlobe Aviation, the company behind IndiGo, resigned on Friday. He will leave the company at the end of July. Ghosh had a spectacular run at India’s largest airline for nearly 10 years at the top. Spearheading its journey from a single aircraft in 2006 to a 161-aircraft company and taking it public in 2015, InterGlobe was IndiGo and IndiGo Ghosh. Such was his sway not only at his employer but also in the industry. As Ghosh, still in his early 40s, leaves the company, Moneycontrol posed a few questions to him to which he promptly replied, quite in line with the on-time performance his airline came to champion. Here are edited excerpts:

What do you plan to do after leaving IndiGo? Will you join another enterprise or start a personal venture?It is too early for me to comment on that. All I can tell you is that as I pause to think through the next adventure, I am ever curious and passionate about new things and I have kept an open mind.

How would you describe your stint at IndiGo?I came into this operating role of leading the airline when we were flying less than 20 airplanes. Now it’s over 160. I think we had less than a hundred daily flights. Now it’s over one thousand to over 50 cities. The largest airline operation that India has ever seen. We had not broken even then and since then, not only has the airline has had an unbroken track record of profitability but today, it’s one of the largest publicly listed companies in India, with the stock price having nearly doubled since IPO. We were about 1100 employees then and today we are over 17000. Operationally, it has hit the ball out of the park – best on time, best technical dispatch reliability; lowest cost structure; nearly the least number of customer complaints. And the accolade that’s the dearest to me – one of the best companies to work for ten years in a row.

The way I see the last ten years is 3650 days, where there wasn’t a single day when I did not learn something new. A stint where each and every day I felt that I had one of the best jobs in the world because of the people I get to come to work with. And finally, where I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to help create something that the world had not experienced before. 

According to you, what was your biggest achievement at IndiGo?That’s a really difficult question to answer. As I see the past 14 years since the inception of IndiGo, there are millions of happy memories. One way to look at the last ten years is by marking milestones – record profitability; returns to shareholders; fourth largest low cost carrier in the world; international operations; regional operations; thousand flight mark; over 50 million passengers a year and so on and so forth.  But if you forced me to pick one, I will definitely say it is creating the people culture that we have at IndiGo. I have said a million times that I felt I had the best job in the world because of the people I got come to work … especially the thousands of colleagues working on the line across our vast network.

Also Read: As Aditya Ghosh leaves, staying 6E will be that much harder for IndiGo

Between the manhandling of a passenger at Delhi airport and the A320 neo engine issue, what would you say was your lowest point?As I said, I don’t see life as a sequence of milestones and trophies and a contrast of low points and high points. Every day and every year threw up its own unique challenges. Sometimes it could be sky rocketing fuel prices; or downturn in the economy; or rising airport charges; or shortage of human resources; or infrastructure challenges; or rising expectations from customers and so on and so forth. It is my job as the leader and the role of the leadership team to mitigate those challenges; learn from them and come out stronger, which we did each time over the past decade.

Did you have any differences with the promoters over the handling of certain issues? Was that also a factory in your departure from the company?The relationship I share with the founders cannot be described in a few sentences and that will never change. I have learnt so much from Rahul and Rakesh. I am truly grateful for the opportunity they bestowed me with.

Dhirendra Tripathi
first published: Apr 30, 2018 12:31 pm