Rise And Shine!

    Avik questions the lack of Indian origin managers leading global automotive companies.

    Published On Jan 08, 2022 09:00:00 AM


    Rise And Shine!

    Hope 2022 is a better year for the Indian automobile marketer. Hope customer sentiments look upwards while supply woes look downwards.

    The year ended very well for Indian management prowess, with Leena Nair becoming the CEO of fashion brand Chanel. She joins a list of much-celebrated leaders of Indian origin that are heading global corporations. Whenever news channels talk of Indian managers going global, the typical names mentioned are Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Indra Nooyi, AS Banga, Jayashree Ullal and Arvind Krishna. Never Ashwani Gupta. In fact, very few even know that Gupta is Nissan’s global COO!

    Then again, he is a lone example of an Indian leading a global automobile brand. Why is it that while India throws up leaders in the software and financial worlds, it fails to do so in the automotive one? The names we cite and eulogise are either promoters or people returning to India from global automakers. Except for Gupta, there is not another Indian automobile manager of any global recognition, leave alone lead. Why so?

    Is it to do with the quality of the Indian automobile manager? Are we just not good enough at a global level? Are we not cutting-edge or disruptive enough to get global attention? Is it an outcome of our focus on research and innovation? I remember RC Bhargava of Maruti Suzuki once commenting that an Indian manager gets paid lower than the overseas counterpart as he/she is not as good!

    Is it to do with the industry per se? While the product is exciting enough, is the process seen as monotonous and traditional? Is the automotive industry not as ‘hip’ as software, detergents, credit cards and haute couture? Does the largely routine and repetitive nature of the work give rise to uninspiring leaders? Is it that too many automakers have sales heads leading the business that becomes a limiting factor?

    Is it to do with the Indian market? Does the fact that we are still an unpenetrated and evolving market mean earning stripes for the Indian leader is difficult? Or is it simply because India is seen as a ‘sales outpost’ even now where ‘cut-copy-paste’ still works?

    In my career, I have come across some truly brilliant minds in our market who were denied global responsibilities and leadership roles. They accepted the same as their fate. Well, it is time to do some soul searching, ask uncomfortable questions and turn the tide.

    Time to rise and shine!

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.


    Venkatesan Ramakrishnan - 628 days ago

    Brilliant blog. The Indian engineering syllabus should keep up with the market forces. Else we will only have lame ducks who can only do If then else endif

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