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The Mahindra Way is to create financially successful companies that are institutions of excellence built on the pillars of Values, Ethics and Integrity
“Not a day in the past 47 years that I have been with the Mahindra Group, have I gone to bed thinking I have done something that my conscience does not allow” – the words of Mahindra Group stalwart and current Chairman of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts and Mahindra Lifespace Developers, Mr. Arun Nanda.
They reflect Mahindra’s unwavering focus on its core values and its deep commitment to good governance. Mr. Nanda, a trailblazer who started his career with the Mahindra Group as a desk-bound chartered accountant, went on to become the founder chairman of two successful Group companies- Mahindra Holidays and Mahindra Lifespaces. His recollections are testimony to the Group’s resolve to do business with honesty and integrity.
“Values and ethics start right from the top; get ingrained into the culture of the organization. This is the culture of the Mahindra Group – where everyone works on merit, lives the values of the organization, and sets an example of good corporate citizenship,” says Mr. Nanda, as he emphasizes that good governance is in the DNA of the Mahindra Group.
Values Before Value
Good corporate citizenship is one of the core values of the Group and has guided all its actions in the business as well as personal domains. The Group has always believed in doing business with a larger social purpose, keeping in mind the welfare and growth of the communities it serves in India and globally, and Mahindra has rightly built up a reputation for its strong business ethics.
“Mahindra is not in business only to give returns to its shareholders, but also to positively impact the life of everyone who comes in contact with any part of the group - from customers and dealers, to employees, communities and other stakeholders,” explains Dr. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra. He adds that the Group’s Rise philosophy, launched in 2011, best represents its ethos, and drives all its actions, decisions and relationships.
The principles and beliefs that ensure good governance are embedded at a fundamental level within the organization and are distinctly visible across the Mahindra Group businesses – from the core automotive and farm equipment businesses to the new-age technology and innovation companies like Tech Mahindra, with each Mahindra employee living the values. “I often feel that my identity has merged with the Mahindra identity, and the core purpose and core values of the Mahindra Group have become an integral part of my life,” says former Group CFO & Executive Director Mr. Bharat Doshi, who played a pivotal 40-year innings during the Group’s growing years, upholding the highest level of corporate governance even as the Group grew from Rs. 50-crore to Rs. 44,000-crore during his tenure.
Doing Business With A Conscience
The senior management lives the values that it professes, and these have now become an integral part of the Group’s moral fabric. “Back in the days when Keshub Mahindra would travel with Mrs. Mahindra, his air-ticket invoice would come to the accounts department along with a personal cheque for Mrs. Mahindra’s airfare,” reminisces Mr. Nanda, adding that these ethics and values have stood strong in every situation – be it a minor everyday event or a multi-million dollar business deal.
“That is the reason why we have never ventured into certain businesses, and why we even chose to exit businesses that were not consistent with our value system,” says Mr. Nanda, adding that when the promoters themselves set the bar high, the culture of working with integrity percolates down the line, right up to the last man or woman who upholds the values of the organization with pride.
Keshub Mahindra, the deeply respected Chairman Emeritus of the Mahindra Group, set standards of integrity and values that have become the cornerstone of all the companies in the group when he was the Executive Chairman. Whether it meant leaving the priceless Mughal-era paintings on the walls when he sold the family’s Jor Bagh property in New Delhi to the company, or paying the excess transfer charges out of his own pocket to honour the Board’s resolution that was already passed, he set the benchmark for propriety.
This tradition has been further strengthened under the chairmanship of current chairman Mr. Anand Mahindra. “We acquired 3,000-acres of unproductive land in Jaipur for Mahindra World City, developed it into a vibrant economic zone and then returned one-fourth of the prime developed land back to the local farmers as our contribution to the local community,” says Mr. Nanda, citing an example of Mr. Anand Mahindra’s ethical, community-focused approach to business.
The Group always recognized that the more deeply embedded the culture of meritocracy, diversity and inclusivity is within an organisation, the better its ability to innovate and stay ahead of the curve. Good governance is a key enabler of this vibrant ecosystem. Right from the days of stringent government regulations to the free-market economy, Wharton-educated Mr. Keshub Mahindra guided his flagship company Mahindra & Mahindra as the then Chairman, with a steely resolve to excel with ethics. “Values were far more important than just growing fast,” says Mr. Mahindra, who ensured that M&M was among the first professionally-run corporates in the country to nurture a team of dynamic managers from diverse backgrounds like Mr. B R Sule, Mr. R K Pitambar and Mr. Kumar Sardesai, who shared the vision and ethics of the founders – and laid a strong foundation for a brighter future.
It is this cherished value system and the sheer depth of good governance built into the organization over the past 75 years that will propel the Group’s growth for decades to come.
“Even as we build and strengthen our traditional businesses, we are also preparing for the brave new world that is emerging, combining the old with the new, and the internal with the external. As we embrace the gamut of business opportunities and take confident strides into the future, there is a strong common thread that binds all of us - our adherence to the values and ethics that are the hallmarks of the Mahindra Group,” concludes current Chairman Mr. Anand Mahindra, adding that the Group will continue to show the same exponential growth that it has done over these past 75 years, while preserving the strong foundations of innovation, good corporate governance and purpose, upon which Mahindra has built its success.