22 May 2003
For Cholamandalam MS General Insurance CEO Arun Agarwal success is a combination of prudence, commitment and hard work
Chennai: "I always wanted to be a journalist but destiny decided otherwise," says Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company CEO Arun Agarwal, 50. "Maybe I will write a book on insurance."
It is not just journalism that this corporate executive had to forgo after obtaining his post-graduation degree in botany; he had to say no to banking and police service after passing the bank officer's and civil services examinations. Agarwal also had a brush with law — no, not breaking law, but studying it. Why a wide variety? "If I like a subject then I join that particular course; getting a degree is inconsequential."
Perhaps, while studying history as the main subject for the civil services examination, Agarwal developed an inquisitive fascination for dates. While musing over his life and the major turning points it took, he makes it a point to quote the exact dates, not just the year.
The grooming up
Born into a Lucknow middle-class family as the last child after two sisters (his father G P Agarwal was an Uttar Pradesh government employee), Agarwal belongs to the first batch of Assistant Administrative Officers (AAO) recruited by the General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) for its four subsidiaries.
His batch could very well be termed as 'the CEO batch' as many of his batchmates today head or occupy important positions in several non-life insurance companies within and outside India. After a one-year induction training at GIC, a young Agarwal was allotted to Oriental Insurance Company and was posted at its headquarters in New Delhi.