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Our next leader that we’re elated to feature in our #RiseToLead series is Arvind Subramanian (MD & CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces). His story is one that reflects dynamism, determination, trust and, is bound to inspire.
I am a big believer in destiny. A series of fortunate accidents has got me where I am today. As a young boy, I toyed with the idea of becoming a mathematician but ended up pursuing Electrical Engineering and Business Management instead. When I missed making the Indian team for the International Mathematics Olympiad by a whisker, I was devastated. The failure, however, set me on a path of self-discovery and dispelled the notion that ‘there is only one pre-ordained model of success.’ Today, thirty years down the line, I believe that failure was a blessing in disguise for me.
My early experience at a management consulting firm allowed me to explore the intersection of business value and social impact while developing and leading the firm’s work in addressing the ‘Next Billion Consumers’, a property that I did not know at that time, would journey with me over many years. I transitioned into the real estate business. From initially selling to the next billionaire to subsequently serving the next billion, my professional arc has found its mooring. When I joined Mahindra Lifespaces with the mandate to build the Happinest segment of affordable housing, I felt the most charged and in control of shaping my future.
With Happinest, I got entrepreneurial freedom that opened my mind and built new managerial muscle. We operated as a startup, tethered to, yet separate from, the mothership. My aha moment was putting the entire team together and completely selling out our very first project at Happinest Kalyan. It was a bold aspiration, and we went all in with no plan B. Thankfully, it played out to script! But I am confident even if it hadn’t, we would have bounced back.
Today, as MD and CEO of Mahindra Lifespaces, my vision is to focus on crafting lives rather than just selling square feet. House-purchase is often wrongly considered just a financial investment. I prefer, instead, to think of homes as a thirty-year consumption product. It’s reassuring it enjoys a negative depreciation over that period! Housing is a highly emotive category unlike mutual funds. Each new home creates memories and are a vital part of a family’s life trajectory. We would feel privileged to be an agent in crafting that life trajectory. To infuse this purpose in our team, we go on to reinforce this via various mediums like podcasts, blogs, fireside chats etc.
If I were to talk about three traits that a leader should have, I would say the first is self-awareness. After all, a sense of security in yourself translates to your team as well. Secondly, the ability to engender trust in your team, partners, vendors, and customers. Lastly, what’s life without something to laugh about every now and then – do not lose your sense of humour as you journey up the ladder.
Mahindra Lifespace Developers limited is present across nine cities in India, covering total of 51.4 million sft completed and under development in Residential and 5000+ acres in Industrial. It is India’s only real estate company with CDP’s Climate Change assessment ‘Leadership’ in the last 5 years and just recently crossed a market cap of $1Bn. Being the pioneer of India’s 1st Net Zero Energy Homes for nature-positive living, MLDL has committed to build only net-zero homes from 2030 onwards.