Harshavardhana Gourineni : Rolling Forward

The flagship company in the group is Amara Raja Batteries Limited (ARBL) which is well-known for the brand 'Amaron.'

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Published: Sep 4, 2020 03:30:10 PM IST
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 03:12:00 PM IST

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Harshavardhana Gourineni is the MD & CEO of Mangal Industries, which is a part of the 9,000 crore Amara Raja Group of Companies. The flagship company in the group is Amara Raja Batteries Limited (ARBL) which is well-known for the brand ‘Amaron.’ He is also responsible for the business Galla Foods as well as convening the Amara Raja Corporate Council, which is the apex level of management for the group.

Here are excerpts of an interview with this young, 32-year-old, prominent businessman.

What is the most difficult part of being a leader?

In my opinion, the most difficult and significant part of a leader's work is building and managing a cohesive team. A well-chosen team is the cornerstone of the company. The growth of any small or big organization depends on the efficiency of the team. It is important to find the right people for the right job and periodically review for relevance. It is equally important to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. In this regard, a leader has to add and remove people from teams to maintain their integrity in the mentioned aspects.

What qualities does a leader need to be successful in business?

Confidence is the most important thing. Confidence in yourself, confidence in your vision, confidence in your teams, and confidence in your organization are all necessary to be successful. This is a basic quality. It is also important to encourage your teams and employees to grow them and build their confidence. This will motivate people to develop the company in such a way to accomplish collective goals.

Secondly, you need to be able to listen to your team. Internal feedback is very important. Often, the manager is not open to hear his/her  employees and builds an authoritarian model of interaction. Having studied and worked in America, I am more inclined to the Western style of management.  I believe in enabling teams and individuals without placing strict measures of control.  I like a management style based on personal accountability and mutual trust. We strive to create and maintain such a positive and vibrant atmosphere in our companies.

How to win the love and respect of your employees?

It may sound cliché, but the main thing is honesty towards employees. You must be responsible for your words and keep your promises. Labor assessments, financial criteria and such should be clear and transparent. This approach, of course, creates a relationship of trust and respect.

A successful leader should be enabling and molding successful employees. Ultimately, the achievements of employees affect the growth of the company, and the growth and development of the company boost the professional and financial growth of each employee.

What should a leader never do?

This question can be answered in many ways.  I will forgo any commentary on unethical conduct, as I would hope that is well-known and understood that a leader can ever do that.  I will, however, make another point.

A leader should not avoid making decisions.  A leader, in the world of business, is literally paid to make decisions.  It is one of the leader’s utmost responsibilities.  Failing to make a decision will stagnate the company and both confuse and demotivate the employees.  It’s not possible to always make the right or best decision, but a leader must always make a decision.  The ball has to keep rolling.

Every leader has to deal with problems from time to time. How, from your point of view, should you deal with problems?

I believe that every problem is an opportunity to develop a solution. It is commonly said that everything is a learning experience, and I take this to heart.  Significant problems have the capability of depleting an individual leader, which can ultimately cascade down the organization.  It is important to maintain a positive mindset, believe in your own capabilities, and move forward in a constructive manner.

What business accomplishments are you particularly proud of?

During my time in the Amara Raja Group, I’ve been a part of several key projects and initiatives while running Mangal Industries and Galla Foods. For Example, I drastically changed the organizational structure in Mangal Industries to reflect my management style and it paid immediate dividends.  Under my management, two failing business units had turnarounds and now are consistently profitable.  Another exciting initiative that is ongoing is the digital transformation of our organization consisting of many projects in industrial automation, IIOT solutions, and robotic process automation.  However, what I am most proud of is the fact that along with my brother, I have been able to provide some support and relief to my grandfather, the Chairman of Amara Raja Group, and allowing him to take a step back.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.

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