p-palaniappan-mahindraWhat are the effective leadership skills you feel should be inherent in a business leader?bl-page55
Leadership is about creating wealth for the stake-holders by charting business growth on the lines of customer centricity and executing the set objectives through a team of aligned and engaged employees and partners. Inherent in this role is requirement from the leader to anticipate future trends and plan the required course corrections, to deliver consistent returns to the stake-holders.

What is the toughest challenge you have faced in building this brand?
The biggest challenge we faced in building the Powerol brand was to create our identity in an industry where two established players were dominant for decades.

What is Mahindra’s brand philosophy? How does the company integrate its customers and employees in building a successful brand?
We, being part of the Mahindra Group, are bound together by the group’s core purpose – Rise. “We will challenge conventional thinking and innovatively use all our resources to drive positive change in the lives of our stake-holders and communities across the world, to enable them to Rise.” And the employees are an essential part of the brand statement.
Rise is a simple yet powerful word, which defines the Group and concisely sums up the aspirations of its stakeholders and employees. Mahindra’s customers across the world, all of them without exception, expressed a strong sense of optimism about the future and shared a common desire to rise, to succeed and create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. The Group strongly believes that the Mahindra brand epitomises what our customers’ want – a company that empowers them to Rise. The spirit of Rise is based on following three brand pillars – accepting no limits, alternative thinking and driving positive change. Implicit in the Rise message is the belief that anything is possible, that we can achieve whatever we set our minds upon. It seeks to unite the Mahindra workforce as a group of passionate individuals and unconventional thinkers who create world-class offerings and aspire for greatness. What according to you, makes a Mahindra customer delighted? I believe that our customers are delighted to know that the products which offer them business continuity, come from Mahindra – one of the most trusted and respected name in India. We also reinforce this through our brand communication.

What’s the annual turnover of the brand and where do you see things five years down the line? Please throw some light on the market share too.
The annual turnover of Powerol is $167 million (as per FY13). We plan to grow to a $335-million brand in the next three to five years. In the diesel generator (DG) set industry, we enjoy the leadership position in the Telecom segment. We also plan to become the market leader in other segments over the next three to five years.

Leading and managing brand operations are extremely taxing roles. How do you relax your mind and body?
We are blessed with the parentage of a world-class organisation – Mahindra Tractors. Total Quality Management (TQM) approach is integral to every aspect of running our business. TQM teaches us to base all our decisions on data, collective synthesis of the business issues and then plan a solution using a cross-functional approach. By this approach, leading becomes an exercise in sharing vision and everyone monitors the progress. I get involved only in exceptional cases. Yet, this becomes taxing at times. I find my relaxation by reading books on spirituality and business, in my spare time.

Even today, India has failed to create a brand like Microsoft or a General Electric. Where do you think we fail in our endeavours?
I believe we lose out on two grounds. We (as Indians) have been good adapters. We have rarely designed a product or a solution to address the pain areas or latent needs of our society. Wherever this was attempted it has been recognised globally. Examples could be Amul (Operation Flood), Konkan Railway/ Delhi Metro (E Sreedharan), etc. Secondly, we do not invest in experimentation and prefer to follow a herd mentality.

What is next for your brand? Any exciting launches that our readers should look forward to?
Recently we have launched leafshaped diesel generator in five different colours. This is for the first time in the industry when people can choose the colour as per their need and liking. We are trying to create an excitement through this product and move away from the era of dull and boring diesel generator sets.