From tabla player to IT innovator

Girish Rao, Head – IT and Business Analytics, Marico Limited, on how his love for the musical instrument helps him improvise and be a better leader. By Shweta Gandhi

Girish Rao’s love for music is a family inheritance. His grandfather was a musician, and Girish’s father wanted his son to follow the family tradition. So Girish started playing the tabla at the early age of nine, and continued with the musical instrument till he completed Std 12. However, that’s when Girish discovered his passion for computers, and his life took another turn. Girish decided to take the plunge into IT when he was 20 years old, and today, he is Head – IT and Business Analytics at Marico Limited. Recently, he was recognised as an FMCG Icon at CIO Power List 2016. However, his love for the table never diminished and he still continues to play it. Here, Girish talks about how his early introduction to the musical instrument also aides and defines his professional life.

It helps you make snap decisions 

“Indian classical music has its own magic. There aren’t any fixed sets that we play—we just let the notes flow. We create on the spur of the moment, taking snap decisions about which tune to follow or note to invent. At work, this technique of dealing with problems or situations in the present moment has helped me challenge the status quo. People always follow a set of rules. I don’t follow things as they are—I question, can they be done differently? The feeling of not being constrained by rules has helped me innovate immensely. This style of functioning has become ingrained in my unconscious mind and has made me do things differently.”

It inculcates maturity

“Playing music has given me a certain sense of stability and perspective. Sometimes, patience is the way. Things will take their own time. If it’s not happening now, it will happen later. Rather than letting anxiety flood me, I have learnt to let go and, now, I stay calm in difficult situations. This is true in the professional sphere too, when certain circumstances stress me out. In this sense, music has made me more mature, because now I understand the importance of using IT to create an impact on myself, my organisation and larger society, which is the true source of fulfilment.”

It imparts confidence

“When I was young, I would play the tabla in social circles. Back in 1986, I would be performing on stage at Hotel Sea Rock, in front of a huge crowd. This improved my self-image and, today, when I have to give a presentation in front of others or talk in front of a crowd, I am able to do it easily. Looking back, had I not got that exposure, I would probably get hassled, anxious even—but that’s not the case anymore. I owe a lot to my musical training, and now I teach my children too. Music continues to be part of my life, not on a professional level though, but it provides satisfaction every time I listen to music.” 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz


  • Posted: July 27, 2016 07:16

    Kshitij M Kotak

    Nice article. Peeks into Girish' personality better.
    • Posted: July 27, 2016 11:05


      Thanks, Kshitij!
  • Posted: August 9, 2016 06:12

    Sudhir Shrotre

    Very much Inspirational article

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