Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has aggressive and unsparing behaviour at work, which according to his employees has vexed some managers and board members at the company. A report in Bloomberg suggests that this relentless ambition and management style has created a toxic work culture forcing dozens of senior executives to leave the firm within a year or two.
When Bloomberg interviewed over two dozen present and former Ola employees, it was revealed that there were instances where Bhavish Aggarwal used Punjabi epithets at staff and told teams they were useless. “The workplace culture inside Ola Electric has turned hostile over the past couple of years,” said the employees who chose to remain anonymous fearing reprisal.
They also claimed he tore presentation papers and meetings were cut short because he would get angry about either sentence constructions or the quality of the paper itself. Meetings scheduled for an hour often lasted 10 minutes because Aggarwal would lose patience over a sentence construction in a memo, a crooked paper clip or the quality of printing paper, the report said quoting employees.
In another incident, Aggarwal reportedly asked an employee to complete three rounds of the several-acre-large Ola Futurefactory because an entryway that was supposed to be open was shut when he visited, the Bloomberg report said.
When asked about his management style, Aggarwal told Bloomberg that “not everybody is a fit for our culture” adding that he wants to build companies with lasting impact, even if that means rubbing some people the wrong way.
“Passions and emotions run high and we are not on an easy journey,” Aggarwal told the agency in an interview last month at Ola Electric’s headquarters in Bengaluru. “But I don’t want to choose an easier journey for myself or for Ola. My anger, my frustration — that’s me as a whole.”
Agarwal has big ambitions for Ola Electric to rival the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla and Chinese conglomerate BYD Company. Although Ola posted its first profit last year, a decade after it was founded, and also remains India’s top ride-hailing platform ahead of global rival Uber, Aggarwal had to push off an IPO last year.