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Ramesh Iyer: #RiseToLead

We have often heard that leadership is action, not position. Mahindra Group brings you our new series #RiseToLead in which our leaders share their personal stories of challenges, growth, and success along with some valuable lessons on leadership. We hope it inspires our young audiences, who are raring to make their mark in the professional world.

First, in our series, we bring you Ramesh Iyer, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd., who has been with the company for over 28 years. His is a Rise story that inspires and elevates at the same time.

"In 1994, when I came to join Mahindra Finance, the security guy at the gate did not know there was a company called Mahindra Finance, so I was signed in as a visitor to get in. I remember setting up my office in a small garage. We were a true start-up with a two-member team back in time. It felt like a real struggle to start from scratch, and I remember being queried & questioned at my first area managers' meet. That day I promised myself that I will build something which cannot be ignored. Just in a few years, there wasn't a single area managers’ meet, where I wasn't invited with a preferred slot to speak. One of the biggest learning for a leader is to not give up when pushed.

When you are starting a business, your first job should be to travel, travel, travel and understand the truth of the market. It is extremely important to know all your customers and partners well, irrespective of the function you are in. The second most important thing is to respect your partner and bail them out when needed. The third thing as a leader you should know is to get involved but not interfere with the work your team is doing.

Empathy and trust have kept us strong from day one. In the last 25 years, not a single year we have made a loss. Yes, the second wave of the pandemic was a total washout for our business, and we suffered a huge hit in the first quarter, but we held our customers and partnered with them in their difficult times even when they were not able to pay. They bounced back quickly, and we were back to making profits from the next quarter and ended the year with a high profit.

Today, Mahindra Finance has touched over 8 million lives spread across 3.80 lakh villages, and 7000 towns, with 1300+ branches managed by more than 21,000 employees and have managed assets of over ₹ 83,000 Crore."

What started as a small business has now diversified and in a position to invest with its own capital and has built up robust financial services sector with vehicle financing, rural housing finance, insurance broking, mutual funds and international businesses in USA and Sri Lanka. This is no mean feat. Kudos to the team and the leadership.