What Can Future Executives Learn From Adam Gilchrist?

I have been a crazy fan of the game of Cricket since my childhood. Encouraged by my father who introduced me to the game, many instances in the game have been lifelong lessons that I still continue to imbibe in my life. From the centuries of Sachin Tendulkar to the fiery spells of Brett Lee, each of them had a lesson to offer. But, one of those that stands out to this day is one that I learnt from Adam Gilchrist. This acrobatic wicket-keeper who doubled as an explosive opening batsman belonged to a generation of Australian players who were infamous for the myriad of controversies they were involved in. But, he stood out of all of them. In a pack of wolves, he seemed to exude the calmness of a monk and above all highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship.

It was the semi-final of the 2003 edition of the World Cup. Australia was facing Sri Lanka and in the sixth over Gilchrist nicked a delivery of Aravinda De’Silva which found its way into the safe hands of Kumar Sangakkara. The players appealed to the umpire who seemed to think otherwise and ruled the decision in favour of Gilchrist. But, before they could know what was happening Gilchrist had begun his long walk back to the pavilion. For an eight-year-old who often fought and cried for an extra chance even when he was clean bowled, Gilchrist became an idol that evening. To do that in tournament that’s the dream of a billion people and take complete responsibility of the actions (although Australia won the match and the World Cup too) sent a strong message to the young kid, ‘no matter what the stakes, stay true to yourself and live up to it.’ this does not undermine various other instances where different players had shown similar spirit in their respective sports. But, this was just a recollection of a player and an incident that left an impact.

Why is the story of Gilly’s sportsmanship the theme of an article that caters to B-School aspirants? For an answer, look into the newspapers of the last year. Two things that stood out were the PNB scam and the IL & FS scam. These incidents are just the recent ones. A deeper research will reveal a lot more such scams such as the Satyam Computers, the Global Financial Crisis, the Volkswagen scam, the RBS scam and the list could go on for long. But, one common thread that connects most of them is the presence of highly qualified MBA graduates in varying capacities. For e.g. Byrraju Ramalinga Raju who was involved in the Satyam Computers scam was an MBA from Ohio University, Jeffery Skilling who was involved in the Enron scam was an HBS graduate, the Wall Street firms where the bubble of Global Financial Crisis of 2008 burst had some of the brightest MBA grads from reputed B-Schools at their helm. So do B-School graduates lose the orientation of their moral compass once they step out of their alma-mater or is it just a coincidence? The answer is still ‘it depends’.

With the CAT results out and most of the aspirants busy prepping for the interviews with (more often than not) well coached and versed answers that make them look at their ethical best, I would like you all to keep this example in mind. This is not just for the interview or your B-School journey. But, for the long, exciting and uncertain careers lying ahead. As you wade through it you will find yourself in situations like the one Gilly found himself in. And just like the umpire, even the regulatory bodies might as well not notice any discrepancy. But, in those situations do make sure to stand up to what your moral compass tells you is right. Not only will you be appreciated for it but you will also be respected in your circles. To quote Gilly himself: ” I think I’ve pretty much walked all the time when I thought I was out — it just happened to be the World Cup semi-final. It’s just the way I chose to play the game.” – An excerpt from an interview with The Hindu.

If we, the business leaders of tomorrow too could do it the ‘Gilly way’ we could set a precedent for the generations to come.


– Giridhar Gopal

PGDM Candidate, SPJIMR Mumbai