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Shiv Shivakumar
D Shivakumar, Member of the Board, Nokia, Finland, making a point on free and fair trade (8268146636).jpg
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

The Wharton School
  • Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy at Aditya Birla Group
Employer Aditya Birla Group
Spouse(s) Hamsini

D. Shivakumar, or Shiv as he is popularly known, is a Bangalore born leader and a management thinker.

He is currently the Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy at Aditya Birla Group. Previously, Shivakumar was the Chairperson & Chief Executive Officer at PepsiCo Holdings Private Limited, India. Prior to that, Shivakumar was Senior Vice President for Emerging Markets at Nokia Telecommunications.

Early life and education

Shivakumar was born and raised in Bangalore, India.
He graduated from IIT, Madras in 1982 and from IIM, Calcutta in 1984. In 2005, he went on to study at The Wharton School.



Shivakumar started his career as a management trainee in the Consumer Products Division at Hindustan Ciba Geigy before shifting toHindustan Unilever Limited where he spent 19 years in sales, marketing and general management positions. He handled consumer major Hindustan Unilever’s foods business between 1989-97, leading brands like Lipton tea, Tree Top fruit juices and Waffles wafers in the snacks segment, before moving to handle shampoos, feminine hygiene and baby products.

He moved to Philips India as Chief Executive Officer of the consumer electronics division in 2003.

Nokia (India and Worldwide)

Shivakumar joined Nokia in 2006 as the Managing Director, India.

He was also instrumental in pushing low-cost mobile devices across rural India; making Nokia a dominant brand in India. During this time, Shivakumar was working with leaders like KV Kamath (former chief of the New Development Bank of BRICS countries) and V Balaraman (ex-CEO, Ponds) who were part of the Nokia Advisory Board. With regards to Shivakumar’s success in driving Nokia’s rural market penetration, V Balaraman had this to say:

"He opened up the Indian market to mobile phones using the HUL style of ensuring good distribution, branding and making the product available at various price points for different sets of consumers." V Balaraman, ex-CEO, Ponds.

The robust supply chain Shivakumar had helped build was tested during the battery crisis of 2007, in which Nokia India had to recall millions of devices due to defective batteries. How the company handled this situation later became a case study covered by the Indian School of Business.

Apart from robust supply chains, Shivakumar also oversaw product innovation at Nokia. Under his management, Nokia India launched a range of services, from Music to Agriculture, under the banner of Nokia Life Tools. The introduction of the phone torch, which was a runaway success as users found it a handy solution in case of power cuts, was also a major milestone during his time.

During his time at Nokia, the brand also built a salience within the Indian households by repeatedly betting big on cricket. The brand started its long-lasting tie-up with the Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by its brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan. Nokia also sponsored the 2011 Champions League Twenty20 and the 2009 T20 World Cup, under Shivakumar’s management. In fact, Nokia India was one of the few brands willing to bet on Indian cricket and sponsor the first T20 World Cup hosted by South Africa in 2007, in which India defeated Pakistan in the finals.

Shivakumar moved on to become Sr. Vice President, Emerging Markets (India, Middle East, Africa) in 2011, handling a market that accounted for 40% of Nokia’s global business and comprised of around 90 countries.

Shivakumar’s time at Nokia is both praised and criticized. He is credited for driving Nokia’s brand from No. 71 to No. 1 in the country increasing their national market share from 46% to 56% by 2006. But he also saw it dip to 30% by 2011 and, towards the end of his time at Nokia, the brand was facing stiff competition in India from smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung.

Looking back at his time at Nokia, Shivakumar points out that Nokia fell behind as the mobile market shifted almost overnight from voice to content-driven open operating systems like Android. He acknowledges that while the strategy they pursued at the time delivered, it did not foresee this sudden shift.

However, he believes in the humble, honest, caring and empathetic culture of Nokia and is of the opinion that its brand equity is still intact.

His contributions from this time have become case studies at Ivy League institutes like Harvard University and the Indian School of Business.

In fact, the Harvard Case Study titled ‘Emerging Nokia?’ looks at the successful strategies that Nokia adopted globally during Shivakumar’s time as the Managing Director of the Indian market. It examines how Nokia tapped into the emerging markets like China, India and the MEA while turning its back towards markets like Europe, Japan and the USA. The study looks at Shivakumar and his counterparts Colin Giles (heading the Chinese market) and Chris Braam (heading the MEA market).

PepsiCo India

In 2013, Shivakumar was appointed as the Chairperson & Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Holdings Private Limited, India where he managed brand portfolios across beverages, snacks and nutrition. He is known for being the key driver for portfolio transformation and depended consumer engagement with flagship brands.

Upon his appointment, this is what PepsiCo Global Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi had this to say:

Shivakumar is one of India’s most respected business leaders. He has a proven ability to take billion-dollar businesses to the next level by maximizing innovation, execution and collaboration.

Under his leadership, PepsiCo launched brands like Quaker, Tropicana and Doritos in the Indian market. He was also the Chairman of Nourishco (which was a joint venture between PepsiCo and Tata Global Beverages). He and then Vice President of the nutrition category for PepsiCo India, Deepika Warrier, headed the launch of Quaker Oats+Milk, which had Sachin Tendulkar as the brand ambassador.

Shivakumar was at the helm when PepsiCo announced in 2013 that it was investing INR 33,000 crores in the Indian market to expand production and distribution.

He also oversaw the much talked about Pepsi walkout from the Indian Premier League. Pepsi ended its title sponsorship with IPL in 2015, two years before the 5-year contract was set to expire by 2017. This pulling out of the contract was due to the match-fixing scandals that had brought disrepute to the league.

Apart from overseeing India operations, he also managed PepsiCo’s franchise business across Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Upon his departure from PepsiCo India, Sanjeev Chadha, chief executive at PepsiCo AMENA (Asia, Middle East and Africa) had this to say:

“He has been a key driver for portfolio transformation, helped develop our nutrition business, launching innovations with our Quaker and Tropicana brands and deepened consumer engagement with our flagship brands.”

Aditya Birla Group

As of January 2018, Shivakumar has joined Aditya Birla Group as the Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy & Business Development. In his current role, he reports directly to the Chairman of the Group, Kumara Mangalam Birla.

He heads the white cement business and the global textile business from the Group.

Aditya Birla Group is one of the largest Indian conglomerates with businesses spread across telecommunications, cement, chemicals, mining, textiles, financial services, retail and e-commerce, among others, in 36 countries.

Public image

Leadership style

D. Shivakumar is known for his friendly, approachable leadership style. At PepsiCo, he used to alternate between two offices every week to ensure his visibility and accessibility to the people he worked with. One of his offices also merely had a round table, to facilitate teamwork and collaboration.

At his time in Nokia too, people who have closely worked with Shivakumar said that one of his biggest contributions was to drive leadership within the organisation.

Chris Weber, EVP Sales And Marketing Nokia said in 2013, “In addition to what Shiv has done for Nokia externally – his personal convictions on the importance of leadership have resonated throughout the company.”

“He has been the de-facto HR manager and the best channel of communication between the junior most guy on the field to the head of businesses or units,” said Poonam Kaul, Director, Communications, Nokia India.

Management thinker

Shivakumar regularly discusses his thoughts on various topics with relation to management. From pointing out how the post of General Manager had slowly become irrelevant post globalization to what skills a fresh pass-out from an MBA school should possess to what the relationship between the individual leader and the company should be, Shivakumar engages with management theories by publishing articles and blogs.

He also shares his knowledge with corporate and college students alike by taking courses and appearing for guest lectures.

Shivakumar has published his thoughts and experiences in a book titled ‘Reflections’. He is currently working on his second book.

Personal life

Shivakumar is an avid reader who regularly puts out his reading list and book reviews. He looks up to management gurus and leaders like Peter Drucker, Jack Welch, Robert McNamara and Harold Geneen as role models.

Shivakumar is also an avid sports watcher, following both the Manchester United and Barcelona football teams. When it comes to tennis, he is a fan of John McEnroe and Roger Federer.

Shivakumar resides in Mumbai, and is married to Hamsini Shivakumar, a semiotics’ entrepreneur and founder of Leapfrog Strategy Consulting.

Notable associations

  • Chairman - The Advertising Standards Council Of India (ASCI), 2018 - 2019, Vice Chairman
  • Chairman - Mobile Marketing Association, India, 2015-2019
  • Independent Director - Godrej Consumer Product, 2009 – 2017, Independent Director
  • Board of Governors - Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad, 2012–2017
  • President - All India Management Association, 2012-2013
  • Board of Governors – Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur, 2019 onwards
  • Board of Governors – XLRI - Xavier School of Management, 2015 onwards
  • Non-executive Chairman - Burger King Board, 2019 onwards
  • Advisory Board - Multiples Private Equity, 2017 onwards

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