Ola CEO Abused Employees, Called Them ‘Useless’, Ripped Apart Presentations Over Small Errors

Ola employees spoke about CEO Bhavish Aggarwal’s aggressive and ruthless behavior at work, which has upset board members and managers alike.

Ola CEO Abused Employees, Called Them 'Useless', Ripped Apart Presentations Over Small Errors

Bloomberg interviewed over two dozen present and former Ola employees.


Extreme behavior

They said there were occasions where Aggarwal casually used Punjabi epithets at staff and told teams they were useless.

He apparently tore presentation papers and meetings were cut short for trivial issues such as being angry about either sentence constructions or quality of the paper itself.

Hence, meetings scheduled for an hour often lasted 10 minutes.

In another bizarre incident, Aggarwal reportedly asked an employee to complete three rounds of the several-acre-large Ola Futurefactory.

Reason: a shuttered entryway that should have been left open.

Anger defines him

Aggarwal told Bloomberg anger and frustration were “me as a whole”.

“Passions and emotions run high and we are not on an easy journey 

But I don’t want to choose an easier journey for myself or for Ola”, said he.

About the company culture he said that not everybody is a fit. 

“There’s no world standard on an even, sterile work environment.”

To sum it up, he wants to build companies with lasting impact, even if that means rubbing some people the wrong way.

Great ambitions

He’s got big plans for the company to become competent enough to give competition to Tesla and Chinese conglomerate BYD Company.

The company wants to produce cars which would be ” one of the fastest cars in India – (will accelerate) 0 to 100 (kmph) within 4 seconds (and) it will have a range of more than 500 kilometres per charge,” Aggarwal had said.

It had unveiled the concept images of its first electric car which it said would become commercially available in 2024.

The man opines that the perception that India was not ready for world class technologies and this image has to change.

Outlining an ambitious plan but one which remains to be seen if they achieve anything remotely close to it, he said “We deserve a car that defines this new India. Our car is made in India, by Indians and for the world.”

Result: High profile exits

Such behavior is not without consequences.

Executives including Zilingo’s former chief financial officer Ramesh Bafna decided not to join Ola Electric days after formally accepting employment offers.

Three dozen senior executives working for Ola Electric and ANI Technologies Pvt, which runs Ola’s ride-hailing operations – have quit within a year or two of joining.

This is a higher turnover rate than peers.

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