Pursuit of Happiness

The Constant Learner

Raghavendra Vaidya, MD and CEO of Daimler Truck Innovation Center India, is a man of varied and deep interests. From riding bikes to automating things at home, from making furniture to constantly studying new subjects and listening to old Hindi songs, he pursues all of them with passion

Motorbiking, studying, innovating and listening to music … these pretty much sum up the activities of Daimler Truck Innovation Center India’s MD and CEO Raghavendra Vaidya outside work. And he pursues each of these with equal passion. For instance, the entire staff at the Daimler Truck Innovation Center India in Bengaluru is now aware of his love for Royal Enfield bikes. However, there was a time when the security guards, expecting the boss to arrive in his Mercedes Benz, would stop this helmeted man trying to park his bike in the reserved slot.

Vaidya cannot hide his amusement when we ask him about it. But besides the passion, it is also about convenience, he insists. “When I am on my bike, I reach the office in 40 minutes. In the car, I am at the mercy of the Bengaluru traffic,” he explains.

Biking is cultish, says Vaidya. During the weekends, he takes off for a couple of hours to ride through village roads. “It helps me clear my mind. The air on the face gives quite a liberating feeling,” he says. If he is going on a long drive in the car, he prefers to be at the wheel. And, driving is never without music, particularly old Hindi songs. His favourites are Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor among others. In fact, he has a playlist for every occasion. Then there are weekends when he sits down with some do-it-yourself activities, mostly related to automation and carpentry at home.

Vaidya likes travelling, His favourite destination is Lisbon in Portugal, a place he has visited several times. “I feel like these small European cities have a soul of their own. They have historical significance. There is no pattern to these cities, unlike the ones in the US,” he remarks. He also wants to go to Man Sarovar, a trip that he had planned and cancelled twice.

Vaidya loves studying subjects that are completely unrelated to his profession, like physics and cosmology. Another subject of interest is eastern spiritualism. These days, he is reading about Buddhism. “The most striking feature of Buddhism is it preaches the middle path. Also, it is not an intellectual exercise. It is experiential in nature,” he explains.

Vaidya’s romance with spiritual studies began after reading a book, The Tao of Physics, which he had picked up at an airport. These are abstract concepts that are difficult to describe, he says. “We face abstract problems in business. My learning has helped me to look at an abstract problem, slice it into pieces and derive some strategic pieces out of it. It also helps deal with the stress,” he adds.

His leadership journey, Vaidya says, has been to watch and learn. “One must keep learning constantly and be in touch with happenings in the field to succeed,” he says. “One must also know what one wants. Do not confuse that with having a plan for next 10 years. You cannot plan for future when you do not know about the future,” he adds.

“Leadership is not a spectator sport. You cannot read a leadership book and become a leader. It is a sport that you need to play,” he says as he signs off.