UMESH-Managing Director & CEO

Tell us about your journey.
I have been lucky I should say to be in an organisation for long. I joined in 1987 as management trainee and worked in various roles. Initially we were trained in different companies because Shriram group has other companies also and after 6 months came to this business.
After that I have been to different places. Initially I was in Chennai, then Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mangalore and then again to Chennai and then Mumbai.
The biggest challenge in life of overall business for me was, We had 4 different companies initially which had 4 different Chief Executives and then it merged into one and I came in Mumbai to integrate all four companies and I worked as a COO initially and then became the CEO of this company.
So, integrity in these 4 companies may be in work culture and trying to pu;; some standards highlight of my journey. However in the last 4 years as a CEO the challenges were plenty because the environment was not friendly, there would be some change in the norms by the regulators, there was change in norms in associates adhering to norms now but we have been able to make changes as per the requirement and team has remained on with me.
The biggest trend for me I should say is team building and I was able to not only retain old people who were with us for more than 20 years and lot of younger people. We have both mix of management people and people whom we take as grass root level. We have balance between them and gice career option to both of them. Probably we have lowest attrition level among the industry and since we are specialised into huge equity financing which is a niche market and keeping the people with us become more important because you don’t get people easily from outside. You have to initially take them, train them, groom them and give them a career. So to the extent it has become a very successful journey for me. The expectations and the customer loyalty both have been high for us. Many of the customers who have started with small owner of a vehicle taking the loan for the first time would have diluted into bigger vehicle. But nevertheless they became friendly with us. They keep giving us new customers, suggest a new way of financing and come back to us for some other financing which banks do not give. They have also expanded their business from trucks to passenger vehicles to construction vehicles. So we are not stuck to one particular product. Going forward we feel that we can play a bigger role in overall system of logistics. There is lot of opportunities coming in the logistic operations with GST coming, better roads are being built and people in India are becoming very divert everywhere. So I feel next 5 to 10 years will be very exciting to India as lot of opportunity will come to us to contribute in the economy of India.

So all 4 companies were of commercial vehicles?
Yes, because those days single company don’t have their reach and first 20 years for Shriram, fund raising was very challenging. It was mostly deposit raising and lending. So even today we are deposit raising company and today dependence upon the retail deposit is 12 to 15 percent but those days it was 100%. So you have to have a network build in today’s resources to build business. So because of that we had 4 companies and once we got a scale, bank funding was easy. But till 15 years back bank funding was challenging for us. We never used to have territory finance we never used to even as securitiser portfolio. Once this security finance was possible, bank finance was also possible.
And private sec have high demand from the bank specially MNC and private bank who do not have reach to rural area and small retail loan..they buy our portfolio because by their rule 40 percent of their net business they have to lend to private sector so they buy pool from us. 4 companies working in a same field can be a challenge. We had in 4 geographic with the same name. So its about 29 years in the company and you have seen company growing So how has company used different marketing tools for retaining its customers. What we did is we did vanilla funding we acquire liv finance and then we started giving them the facility of a insurance that is for buying insurance We made temporary loan because he can’t invest 30-40 thousand on insurance. It means he loses 1 month income to insurance so we started funding that as a working capital and did the campaign over 12 months and then we started financing tyre requirement and refurbishing requirement than any other personal loan request we started giving all the requirement of the customer on demand and sometimes by making understand the needs because many of them do not understand their need and they go to neighbourhood financing and borrow at a very high rate and then they end up in trouble. So you basically support till the time he reaches the goal. We are cross selling life insurance. We have both General Insurance and Life Insurance

What strategies did you use to plan your career progression.?
I kept it simple. I just thought i just give my best to the current role and didn’t even think of becoming a CEO when I joined. But what probably would have helped me a lot is my ability to build a team. I was always able to build a very good team and find a replacement for me in every role so that would have given me a better chance of growth. I travel 15 days a month.

What fascinates you while travelling?
I travel to understand the local situation, local people behaviour and culture. I travel mostly by road not in train and to the distance obviously by air. That gives you lot of insight that what should be doing next. What things can make Shriram finance different from other companies that we need to plan. Thinking, Planning and Implementing there is lot of a gap. We also had a challenge where our customers got attracted to low rate of interest then we have to give reasons by giving other support and product. Many of the time we were ahead in the market therefore we are leader in the industry. People really fascinates me and I keep them in mind while taking bigger decisions or while trying to implement something. And the another thing I indulge into is the local food. I ask them what is the local food. I want to try the local food. People feel that as if you are there man.

Tell us something that is the worst and best part of your job?
The worst part is probably if somebody is not performing consistently well and asking him to do something else. Two things here there is a part of filtering from our side also and we are not able to give him job he can do better. And second is he is not able to cope up worth the demands of the job

What do you do on Sunday?
I generally travel to branches on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday I sleep late and go for long run or gym A good lunch with family as a get together and as we do not meet and a dinner or if my wife has shopping plan or movie and in the late night I plan what should be done in the next week. I am a sports lover. I used to play field games in the college and represent the college. I tried to read whatever comes to me. Recently “When Breathe Becomes Air” I read. I also read business books and case studies.