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Choices are key to success, says Church’s Chicken CEO

March 2006
Choices are key to success, says Church’s Chicken CEO

Harshavardhan V. Agadi, CEO of Church's Chicken, Inc., believes "there is nothing called fast-track. You make it, you define it, it is you who have to take the track and create it." Success, according to him, boils down to just one factor: the choices one makes. "You succeed not because you have the best mark-sheet, not because you are best looking but by the decisions you make. There are no rights and wrongs. We are, at the end of the day a function, a result of the choices we have made in life."

Agadi was speaking at an event organized by TiE Atlanta, which channels its energies toward the advancement of entrepreneurship. Spicy and Original Entrepreneur, which was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, also happened to be the organization's first event of 2006. The event was also an indication of TiE's efforts to shed its image of being an organization focused only on the IT sector.

Chand Akkineni, the new president, said that though TIE's focus is on creation of wealth, it also represents Talent, Ideas and Enterprise. According to him, since there is a resurgence of entrepreneurship, TiE looked forward to providing a forum to bring together people with diverse skills and make "deals" happen. Akkineni urged entrepreneurs to support this goal. And as a first step, TIE introduced a new feature for its meetings - an opportunity to sponsors, mentors and members to talk about their respective companies in a three-minute elevator speech. This month's sponsor was Madhu Ankarth, CEO of Tans Atlantic Company, mentor K.P. Reddy of RCMS group, and member Hemant Vyas of Informetier.

Vir Nanda, the outgoing president briefly shared his experiences of the TIE Global meeting held in Dubai in December. The main idea he stated was to get all mentors together and discuss improvements, strategies and plans for the future.

Agadi , in his talk, shared the spicy recipe of his rise to the top. "Success is a continuous process, nobody is truly successful and each day brings a new success -- it could be watching your child play tennis, it could be actually getting across to somebody and looking at life differently," he said.

Born in Bangalore and brought up in Mumbai, Harsha attended the Arya Vidya Mandir School, which exposed him to "a rare combination of strong Hindu traditions including study of Sanskrit, performing ‘homam' and a Cambridge education." After graduating from Sydenham College of Commerce in Mumbai, he obtained an MBA from Duke University, N.C.

He said as a child he was an introvert, a second class student and ordinary. A turning point in his life was when his parents insisted on him attending a public speaking course in Mumbai. Those 10 sessions changed him forever. They made a big difference in how he communicated and got his point across.

Agadi's key decision was to come to America based on some interesting facts. He said that the world's GNP is $4 trillion, a quarter of which is America's GNP. He felt that it doesn't matter how big China, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and others become, it is America where 25 percent of global economic activity occurs. He said that America has the least number of holidays with a competitive workforce and it is the place he prefers to be in. He elaborated on some of the decisions that have been a key to his success.

He stressed the importance of going to the right school. "You have one chance in life to get an education, get it at the right place. It is something labeled next to your name for your entire life." But the most important decision, according to Agadi, is marriage. It is more important than the job one takes, the university or place of residence one selects. Balance in life is critical and with great pride and fondness he gives credit to his wife Geetha for bringing balance into his life. "She is value conscious and I am brand conscious."

Next on the list is the career decision. Agadi made some smart choices and has varied experience ranging from finance to operations to strategic planning culminating into starting a venture. Having become a successful executive at a young age, Harsha was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and also wanted to know what it took to start a company before he hit forty. It was this drive that led to the formation of GHS Holdings, of which he is the chairman. The company helps new and growing companies with speedy implementation of business plans.

Agadi also touched upon his contribution to Church's chicken as CEO with a word of advice, "Don't hesitate to share your numbers it ain't disappearing just by sharing."

- Shubhangi Pandit


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