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Cover Story
 
WOMEN CEO'S
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
 
After The Bend
After a Difficult stake sale to M&M in Trying times, the Kinetic group is now Looking at new areas of Growth

Loaded with debt & unable to compete with larger players, Kinetic Motors sold 80% stake to M&M. Industry experts said it was a change of paradigm, but Sulajja Firodia Motwani, MD, Kinetic Motor Company and Director, Kinetic Engineering, is honest enough to say that it was a step taken in a desperate situation. She discusses the future course of action in this exclusive interaction:

B&E: How is the family dealing with the merger? What has been the strategic direction after the takeover?
SFM: It was very difficult and I had to convince the whole family that the best decision would be to have an alliance. If the market changes and you donít have the right construct to make it in the changed market, then you canít succeed. We had three options for a mid-sized player in a market dominated by large companies who have very strong bargaining powers: an alliance, becoming a niche player or closing the business. If we had done nothing, then we probably would have had to shut it down. Mahindra is a good partner. They understand the rural market; our customers, dealers and employees would benefit from the deal and we would also profit by being shareholders.

Now, Kinetic Group has decided to focus on a few areas in the next five years. Of course, we will remain committed and focused on our alliance with M&M for two-wheelers and support it fully. We will also concentrate on automotive systems and components with our group companies Kinetic Engineering and Kinetic Technologies in the areas of tool design and engineering. We are also exploring opportunities in automotive systems and components, through alliances and JVs with the worldís leading companies.

B&E: You have been at the helm of Kinetic for over a decade, guiding it through good times and bad. What experiences would you highlight as memorable in this period?
SFM: The journey has been challenging and very interesting. I am very proud that I have nurtured my family and at the same time, met deadlines with sheer determination and strength of mind. I joined the group, when the corporate world was male dominated but that did not stop me from doing what I was here to do. Today, things have evolved, now that women are part of the workforce. In some industries, they are in fact almost equal in number, if not more, to their male counterparts when they start out.

 
B&E: Post restructuring, what is the current status of business at Kinetic Engineering?
SFM: Post restructuring, Kinetic Engineering has moved forward with a clear focus on powertrains. The companyís performance has been steadily improving with implementation of the Nano project. The delay in the Nano start up caused us some amount of pain and money, as we had completed investment for the same in 2009 itself. Now that the Nano plant is in full swing, the company has reported a net profit of Rs.21 million in March 2010 and expects operating performance to be stronger in the coming months. We have also added several new clients and programs to complete transmission assemblies for two leading international companies. Post customer approvals, we hope to start manufacturing and delivery of these gear box assemblies soon.

B&E: What are the challenges associated with leading effectively in a highly competitive market?
SFM: Today, in this business, everything is important. Youíve got to be good in designing, R&D, logistics, dealing with numerous vendors, low cost manufacturing, distributing and advertising and marketing. Itís a very complex industry and the dynamics are changing. We have tried to build a strong marketing focus. Although I acknowledge my contribution, but there is a lot more to do.

By : Deepti Singh
          

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