An example is the Indian automotive group Mahindra & Mahindra, which has been steered from the slow to the fast lane of India’s business highway by vice chairman and managing director, Anand Mahindra.
The ambitious and Harvard-educated Mahindra is the third-generation head of the group, whose risk-taking management style has alarmed many among the firm's old guard. His decision to plough $120 million into the development of a sports utility vehicle, the Scorpio, took M&M, which is best-known for making tractors, into uncharted territory.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Mahindra says his job was 'on the line' if the gamble didn't pay off, with a board member saying he should go if the Scorpio bombed. In the event, the car has been a hit with India’s urban middle class, and, thanks to Mahindra’s smart management, was built for one-fifth of a comparable project in the US, allowing it to achieve profitability after selling just 50,000 units.
Determinedly global in his outlook, Mahindra has also taken the group in new directions with a clutch of ambitious deals, acquiring a bankrupt tractor manufacturer in China, and signing an alliance with Renault to build the French company's Lagan in India. He has also signed an $80 million partnership with the US commercial vehicles manufacturer, International Truck.
And Mahindra is further rocking the foundations of this previously unadventurous conglomerate by decreeing that 20% of M&M’s sales must come from products that did not exist four years ago. His belief in 'empowered management', skill in investor relations and in the power of brand-building, all further point to Mahindra being the epitome of new India's rising business prominence.
Source: Dynamic risk-taker drives M&M ahead
The Financial Times, July 3 2006
Review by James Curtis