Issue 27

Ramesh BabuManaging Director, India of Velan Valves India Pvt. Ltd.

Ramesh is a Dynamic, Inspirational Business Leader with over 30 Years of Experience in the Business of Valve and Actuator Industry. He has a Broad-Based Experience in General Management, Lean Thinking and Operational Excellence.

He has a Proven history of setting up Successful green field ventures of MNC in India. History of Significant YOY Growth in Sales and Profit, which illustrate the ability to combine revenue growth through Execution skills, Process Improvements, Effective training and Motivation.

Ramesh Passed out of REC Allahabad in 1987 as a Production & Industrial Engineer. He completed his Masters in Engineering Business Management from Warwick University. He is also a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt.

Ramesh was the chairman of CII – Valves & Automation Division from 2017-2019. He is currently one of the founder Directors of IVAMA Association, an Association of Valve Manufacturer’s in India.

He spends his free time, binge watching comedy shows, and is an avid cricket fan.

1. What is the mandate given to you by the Board?

When Velan set shop in India in Dec, 2012, the mandate by the Board was to strengthen and enhance our engagement in this growing market by providing cost effective solutions and to live up to our Tag line:  Velan. Quality that lasts

2. How much of that has been achieved?

It has been a rewarding journey, over the last nine years, and Velan is now an established player in India and have a solid installed base with supplies to highly critical and niche applications. We are on AML (Approved Manufacturer’s List) of all major Power, Refining and Petrochemical customers in India.

3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing? Both immediate and long term. And what steps you are taking to overcome?

The situation today is very fluid, and there are so many variables at play, impacting our short and long term out look to the Business. Covid is the main theme playing out, but there are other factors, like the US elections, China situation, Liquidity, Border issues, that continue to impact long term strategies. In my opinion, the best Long-term strategy today, is not to have one.

Our focus is on Cash, Customers, safety and well-being of employees and continuity of our Supply chain. We are constantly communicating with our customers, have rolled out new HSE and WFH policies to mitigate the risks associated with running the facility in current conditions. Give the constraints on logistics, we are developing alternative sources to secure supply chain.

4. How have the Pandemic/technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

There are no sectors that are immune to the Pandemic, and we are not spared either.  Many new Projects are being postponed, both in the Domestic, and the global market. This is bound to have an impact in FY22 , but we hope to see a good traction in the Replacement market and are re-allocating resources to be ready.

5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

We look for leadership talent with a demonstrated track record and the potential and aspiration to grow.

Recruiting a start-up team for a nascent industry meant that we assigned heavier weights to collaboration and agility and were careful to onboard individuals who had the mental and physical stamina to sustain themselves in a high performance environment.

Home grown talent that met this criteria and was enthused with the opportunity to seed an enterprise was equally welcomed.

6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

We essentially consider three identification criteria: Consistently superior performance, aspiration combined with the potential to grow and demonstrated collaboration at work.

Development is via focused mentoring, structured support in picking up new skills and competencies and cross functional responsibilities to learn and chisel on the job.

7. Every crisis is a learning opportunity, what lessons have you picked up from Covid?

You bet, I did. I would have laughed off anyone if he had talked about working from home in an organization like ours. Here we are, with more than 70% of our people working from home, and still delivering results. I was amazed to see the resilience of our team members and emergence of situational leaders, in responding to this crisis. This whole pandemic taught me humility like never.

8. In a world full of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity (VUCA), innovation has become one of the most important factors to transform a crisis into an opportunity. How do you promote Innovation?

The next great idea, or a product can come from anyone in the Organization, and the Organization should have a process in place to nurture such ideas and execute them. We do have set processes across the spectrum of employee levels to identify such themes and promote them.

9. How do you define and practice leadership?

To me leadership is all about execution and delivering results. We are all here to play an infinite game, but at defined intervals, where you are given an opportunity to excel in whatever you do. The ones that excel are disciplined, authentic, communicate well, and Lead with a purpose.

10. We see many Indian leaders on the global stage. How can more Indian leaders become Global Leaders?

We are all natural at leading as our eco system is very competitive. Right from our young age, we are taught to deal with uncertainties, deal with conflicts, and more importantly, failures. What our leaders lack are opportunities to excel in the global arena. The very few who got them prove their mettle.

The world is taking note of this aspect, and we are beginning to see Leadership transitions happen from India, to various international locations in small and medium Organization as well. Its only a matter of time, before we get to hear from across the globe of more successful leaders from India.

11. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you learned from and/or that got you where you are today?
  • I was fortunate to be associated at the beginning of my career with Organizations that valued ethics, Integrity, and Processes. Financial metrics were taught to young engineers to make them Good Managers.
  • The training I received to be a Lean Black belt in a multi-cultural setting gave me a perspective on how Global organizations function. This education gave me an opportunity to aim for a higher benchmark to define success.
  • When you get back to academics after being in the Industry for a while, you tend to appreciate the learnings better. My time, with Warwick, with all the case studies from work, made me appreciate the connect and learn with Purpose.
12. What message would you like to share with young professionals?
  • Continuously look for opportunities to learn
  • Do not give up on Reading and make this a compulsive habit.
  • Believe that you can win, and most successful leaders of today, were not toppers in school.
  • Have fun and spend money on travel. It teaches you a lot of stuff, which otherwise will take years to learn.