Venky Mysore is the chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) since 2010. And the KKR is the IPL home of T&T's cricketing superstar Sunil Narine. Mysore is largely responsible for popular Bollywood film star Shah Rukh Khan and his business partners Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta's acquisition of the T&T Red Steel Franchise in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League).
These days, the KKR is on Mysore's mind. Since he's at the helm of the KKR, the team has won the IPL in 2012 and 2014 due to the strategies he has developed and spearheaded. The team is now a hugely popular and well-known brand around the world. KKR also qualified for the Champions League in 2011, 2012, and reached the final in 2014. KKR also became the first IPL franchise to break even and turn a profit.
KKR has launched a unique digital marketing initiative through which it has achieved a leadership position on the social media and online platforms. The fan community has grown to 14 million in 2015, which has helped in monetising the franchise. KKR also produced a documentary which has been broadcast by the Discovery channel titled–Living with KKR.
In 2013, Mysore was also asked to become the CEO of Red Chillies Entertainment, the film production Company owned by Khan. Since taking over, he has been working on building a new business model for Red Chillies to be able to produce films and content for various platforms.
Prior to joining KKR, he had a very long and successful career spanning 25 years in the financial services sector. He was the India Country Head of Sun Life of Canada from January 2007 to October 2010. Prior to that, he had a long career spanning 21 years with MetLife. He started his career in the US in 1985 and held several positions of increasing responsibility in Washington DC, Pittsburgh, PA, and New York City.
He subsequently took on a senior role in MetLife's International Operations in 1997 and was part of the start-up teams for MetLife's businesses in Indonesia and Hong Kong. He was responsible for starting up MetLife's business in India and was the CEO and managing director of MetLife India until December 2006.
He prides himself on having been an accomplished cricketer who represented the Madras University in cricket, played a lot competitively, and is a passionate follower of the game.
He and his wife, Veena, are the proud parents of three children.
The Sunday Guardian interviewed the affable Mysore earlier this week in anticipation of today's CPL final at the Queen's Park Oval. Here are some excerpts:
Q: Tell us about your early years in life. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
A: I was born in the southern city of Bengaluru (then Bangalore), India, and grew up in Chennai (then Madras). I was a good cricketer and had visions and aspirations of representing my country but academic pursuits put paid to that as I headed off to the USA for further academia, but I have come full circle back to my first passion in life, that of cricket, albeit on a different field of play. I did play at the fairly high level when I represented the University of Madras before I headed off to the US.
Any disclosures/plans related to T&T Red Steel 2016 and beyond to sensitise our readers?
Not as yet. As soon as we made the decision to acquire the Trinbago franchise, literally a week before the start of the tournament, my idea was for me and a couple of my KKR colleagues to come and observe and absorb everything that goes on here. We are going through a learning curve on how things work here and understanding the environment and any sensitivities so that we can achieve the right uniformity and integration to make it a success. Once we complete the tournament, we will sit down and formulate our plans.
Why do you think franchise cricket has become so popular?
Franchise sports has existed in other parts of the world–US, UK etc. I think the combination of the product and the entry of private enterprise creates the right combination for the fans and public at large to enjoy the entertainment. Over time, there is a strong emotional attachment that a country or city develops towards the team and it becomes "THEIR" team. This adds to the fan experience and is perhaps the main reason for the success.
What is unique about the CPL compared to the other franchise-based T20 cricket around the world?
IPL has by far been the marquee T20 tournament because of the commercials around it and the huge crowds, and the following. What I observe in the Caribbean is the "party" atmosphere and the unique way in which the fans enjoy the game with music as a common thread. So it makes it that much more enjoyable to watch and during those three hours, they have a great time. This is surely unique.
What is your role in bringing the 'Shahrukh/Kolkata Knight Riders' brand to the T&T Red Steel?
After I was entrusted with the role as the CEO, I have formulated plans for growth and was always on the lookout for opportunities. While we had been offered the Trinidad franchise when the league started in 2013, I suppose the timing wasn't right and we had passed. This time around when CPL approached us, we felt we should evaluate it again. We are very glad that we have moved forward.
Coming from an international and global business background has positioned me well to position in T&T the vision of replicating the successful models I have developed...it's a matter of "think global, act local." We aim to be a success for the benefit of all the stakeholders.
"Mysore..." an interesting last name given that it is the name of a city in India, any connection?
Yes, Mysore is a very famous city in South India with a lot of history and heritage. My father's side of the family came from there and hence the surname.
What has your experiences been like in this part of the world?
The first thing noticeable is the warm hospitality. People seem to be quite relaxed and always ready for a party! It's great to see this. We also expect to build a very successful business around the franchise and hope that the people of Trinbago will be proud of what we build together.
How would you describe your management style?
I believe in leadership with a vision for growth. I also believe that this can be achieved only through collaboration and partnerships. People are always the biggest assets and when you treat them well, they will go to any lengths to achieve the common goals that are set.
What two words would you use to describe yourself, one beginning with 'v' the other with 'm', your initials?
Never thought of this, but perhaps "Valiant" and "Magnanimous."
Any final words you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to thank everyone for the warm welcome we have received in Trinbago and the Caribbean at large. It inspires us to do a good job with the franchise and create a bond that hopefully will last for many years to come.