Pursuit of Happiness

Following The Culture Trail

Amitabh Dube, country president of Novartis India, has travelled extensively, but it is his stay in Vietnam that he most fondly remembers, not just for its food, people and landscape but also for the footprints of Indian culture in the southeast Asian country

He says he is not a hardcore history enthusiast, but that disclaimer appears misleading when Amitabh Dube, country president of pharmaceuticals major Novartis for India, starts talking about the influence of Indian and Chinese culture on the Vietnamese culture.

The southeast Asian country, where Dube was stationed for two years for work, is quite close to his heart—he is all praise for its people, landscape, culture and food. But what amazed him the most was the presence of footprints of the Indian culture in half of Vietnam. “I could find so much about our culture there. For instance, the Chola dynasty of south India has its footprints right up till Vietnam,” he points out enthusiastically.

As a leader, Dube is a strong proponent of open and transparent communication and believes in being authentic and being available for everyone.

He loves socialising—a passion that stood him in good stead when he was in Vietnam as he ideated on business strategies. “There were language and cultural barriers in Vietnam. You cannot understand people when you are in meeting rooms. I connected with them [colleagues] outside office. That helped us in opening up to each other, building a culture in the organisation and having better efficiencies and outcomes,” he explains.

For his “me time”, he prefers to play tennis or go for a walk with his wife. Weekends are for watching Formula One. “If there is nothing else, I watch Netflix. I love it,” he quips, admitting to binge watching once in a while when he is on a holiday. In fact, he has already decided that he will be watching the series The Diplomat once he is done with The Last Kingdom.

Then there are weekends when Dube dons the chef’s cap, stirring up some destressing moments along with Indian dishes while sipping from a glass of wine.

Travelling is definitely on Dube’s list of pleasure activities. “I enjoyed every bit of my eight-day stay in Bali. In Vietnam, I love spending time in Danang and Phu Quoc island,” he says. For holidays in India, he does not mind repeat trips to Puducherry and Goa. Of course, there are many places where he has been to on business trips and wants to go back to on a pleasure trip someday. “The half of Europe sits there … Japan, a few places in Latin America ... They have always been on our list of to-go places, but we are conquering them one at a time,” he remarks.

Gardening is a hobby he is interested in taking forward when he can devote more time. The next question—on his retirement plans—comes up promptly, and so does the response. “My wife and I are mulling over what our retirement place should be. Once we finalise the place, we shall think of retirement plans,” Dube laughs.

What is it that keeps the busy corporate leader contented? The answer lies in his definition of success.

“I have spent 29 years working. When I am alone, if the thoughts of these years bring a smile to me, that to me is success,” says Dube, adding, “Success is measured not on the parameters of what you have achieved in terms of value or volume, but in terms of the happiness and the smiles you are able to bring to yourself.”