L&T chairman emeritus A M Naik on Friday said he worked 15 hours a day and slept on the office table after long days at work, as he built the engineering giant in over five decades.
In remarks that come amid an uproar caused by N R Narayana Murthy's suggestion asking youngsters to put in 70 hours of work per week to build the nation, Naik said after putting in 15 hours a day at work, he used to go back home and think about L&T for another one hour.
Naik credited former Defence Minister George Fernandes for helping save L&T during a corporate takeover battle mounted by the Birlas, and added that the politician's socialist leanings made him a big believer in not letting a company go into the hands of a big business house.
During his career, he has met many Prime Ministers, Naik said and claimed without elaborating that sometimes the Prime Ministers have been able to retain their jobs because of L&T.
Reminiscing about his career, starting from how he joined the company, Naik said he travelled through the night for early morning meetings and spoke about one such meeting in Germany for which he travelled through the night from neighbouring Poland in a car as a 34-year-old.
"When I was a student, I was looking at joining a company which of course gives me an opportunity for technology innovation and engineering excellence, but in parallel, it gives me a platform on a wider scale to help build our nation," Naik said, speaking at an event here.
Naik, who stepped down from being the executive chairman of L&T in 2017, also mentioned about certain long days at work which ended well past midnight and his preference to sleep on the office tables on such nights.
In the 20 years that he was at the helm, the market capitalization of L&T shot up by 130 times to over Rs 5 lakh crore from Rs 4,000 crore, Naik said.
Naik said young executives ought to have devotion, passion, conviction and commitment to succeed in life. He also stressed on the importance of self-learning saying he relied a lot on it.
He rued that B-school graduates lack focus "practical application of what society wants" and added that management institutes need to send their students to the villages for three months as part of the curriculum to make them understand the country better.
L&T is into businesses like defence manufacturing, Naik said, stressing that not a single management graduate signs-up with it for slogging in the Himalayas to learn. L&T staffers go for testing howitzers in the desert, and not a single person is from the IIMs, he said.
The 15-hour work days have now reduced to 6 hours after he relinquished executive responsibilities for running the business. Of these 6 hours, 2 hours are devoted to philanthropic work.
This shift has also led to a change in sartorial choices, with suits being traded for the modest T-shirts, Naik said, adding that the underprivileged people he works with sometimes hesitate to approach him.
Wearing a T-shirt – which he wears even for board meets – makes him more approachable for people, Naik said.