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We bring you Veejay Nakra, President of Mahindra Automotive Division, next in our #RiseToLead series.
"I joined Mahindra and Mahindra as a management trainee in 1994. It has been home to me ever since. My children, however, joke with me that I am like a dinosaur because this is my first and only job, but what a fulfilling journey it has been. I was clear in my mind that I wanted to work for an organisation that gave me the opportunity, space, and challenge to learn and grow and had a solid value system. I never looked at short-term gains to fuel my ambitions.
One of the early challenges that helped shape my future came at the time of the liberalisation of the Indian automobile industry. With the opening of the industry to global auto giants, the business was under threat and survival was a question, we got the opportunity to disrupt the market by creating an SUV from scratch and that too when we had never engineered a grounds-up product. From Scorpio to Scorpio-N, life has come to full circle today. I believe empowering our young employees to create something new is in the DNA of Mahindra.
One of the fascinating assignments that proved to be a brilliant learning opportunity was setting up the market in South Africa. I felt like an architect designer representing my company and my country in an entirely different environment. It was a combination of business and cultural challenges. Today, when I look back as the Chairman of Mahindra South Africa, there is an immense sense of gratitude and satisfaction.
The biggest challenge of my career came with the pandemic in 2020. It came at a time when our market share was at an all-time low. We had a few successful launches, but none was a blockbuster. Our brand was not considered aspirational. And, we had this massive task of turning the business around amidst the pandemic when everyone was working from home. Imagine launching the Thar and the XUV700 in such a situation - with supply chain issues, trying to balance the production and running of the plant while ensuring the safety of the people who run them. The fact that we were able to launch three successful products while still recovering from the effects of the pandemic feels surreal. Not only this, but we have also created a strong roadmap for the future of our EV Business.
As a leader, you should be able to create strategies that could play out in the VUCA world with great agility. It is about the willingness to take big bets while being able to create and manage a strong talent pipeline. I believe empathy and compassion are the most fundamental traits of a good leader. What sets a leader apart is the right mix of push and pull with the readiness to de-bottleneck your team when required. If you want to be a successful leader, you got to be the Jack of all trades and a master of a few."
Today, Mahindra Auto is one of the most aspirational brands in the SUV space. The brand walks the talk when it says ‘Explore the Impossible’ while caring for the planet and heading to be one of the most innovative and high-tech companies in the Indian automobile space.