Priya Anand Dakle

Currently, the company has three state-of-the-art workshops of one lac sq. ft. for manufacturing customized FRP tanks and other pollutioncontrol equipment. Priya is also one of the founders of Smt. Madibai Sardarmal Dakle School, Sanjan (Gujarat, India) — the CSR wing of Dakle Industrial Plastics. which is a pre and primary school and aims for imparting high-quality education to her employees’ children at a very subsidized cost.


A perfect combination of ingenuity, foresight, and agility, Priya aims at taking the company to new heights of success with new products and innovative ideas. To expand the manufacturing of high-volume chemical storage tanks, she added the company’s second unit in 2012 with a hightech facility. This was followed by the third expansion in 2018 for manufacturing highly customized pollution control equipment and molding products. Priya further aims at expanding the company’s manufacturing units by building its fourth workshop for high volume FRP tanks catering to the chemical, dyes, and pharmaceutical industries globally. She is a focused leader who believes in going the extra mile to ensure client satisfaction. She has been successfully handling renowned multinational clients such as Bayer, Unilever Corporation, Fosroc & Syngenta, besides handling site services for the last 12 years. Some of her momentous accomplishments include the planning and execution of the prestigious 500 cubic meters of tanks at the new Maldives International Airport, including their installation and commissioning. She also handled the first ocean fish farming project in Sri Lanka, including the supply & installation of fishing tanks. She looks up to her father and father-in-law as her pillars of strength. Their guidance has been the root of her drive and inspiration to become a successful entrepreneur. She credits her success to her husband Mr. Anand Maganlal Dakle, who is her pillar of strength and the main reason behind the success of Dakle Industrial Plastics. Her biggest strength is her son who is a very simple, adjusting and non-demanding child, thereby making her journey as a working mother very easy.


As a staunch supporter of the Indian Government’s ‘Vocal for Local’ and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) campaigns, Priya encourages the procurement of local products from local suppliers who meet the standards. She also places the health of the planet at the forefront of her agenda and makes concentrated efforts to increase the green cover by planting trees all around the manufacturing units. During the pandemic, she waived off the annual school fees for all children studying in Smt. Madibai Sardarmal Dakle School and full salaries were paid to the schools’ teaching and the non-teaching staff. What’s more, instead of laying-off employees due to the pandemic, she has employed more workers keeping in mind the short-term challenges and the firm’s long-term goals.


Priya has been honored with prestigious laurels. She was awarded Social Entrepreneur 2020 Award at Women Entrepreneurship Awards 2020 by Startup Vapi on Women’s Day. She was also nominated for the prestigious Vyapaar Jagat Convention & Awards 2020 in the category of Education Hero of the Year 2020. Recently, she has been appointed as Vice President, JITO, Ladies Wing Vapi.

Varis Sayed

Varis grew up in Vadodara, Gujarat (India). In 2011, he moved to Dubai (UAE) – the world’s most dynamic, future-forward business ecosystem. He possesses a Master’s Degree in Commerce & Business Administration, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. The Certified Financial Planner is also a Wealth Manager, Investment Analysis & Portfolio Manager, Capital Market & Financial Market, Derivative & Securities, Mutual Funds Distributor & Insurance Advisor. Also, he has a CISI certification in UAE for rules & regulations for the Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority. He is also a Bloomberg Certified-Equity, Fixed income, Forex & Commodities professional.


Varis plays a vital role in giving FINCASA Capital an international presence. In less than 5 years, the company has grown from one Office to five offices including main office in Dubai, Branch offices in Cyprus, Canada, Peru and Greece. Fincasa has partnered with His Highness Sheikh Juma Bin Ahmed Bin Juma Al Maktoum, Member of Ruling Royal Family of Dubai. Global Women Empowerment Summit 2019 was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Juma, which was dedicated to the best female professional practices in the region. Fincasa Capital sponsored this event by supporting the “Woman everything” initiative. He believes that the firm’s incredible culture is the key to its ground-breaking success. The values-driven leader aims at developing and reinforcing a business model that cares equally for its clients, workforce, stakeholders as well as partners. His priority is to create and sustain a business model that inspires everyone in FINCASA to build a client-centered business.


Varis has over 15 years of global experience in developing and executing strategies in asset management, investments, and financial services. He demonstrates outstanding abilities in business development and management. He also has a strong skill set for investment banking, asset management, insurance, product management & team management. The visionary leader is also known for his excellence-driven approach. His constant focus on excellence helps him raise the bar and maintain the quality of his work. The stalwart has multiple talents and skills. He has extensive expertise in launching a variety of companies globally. He also fulfils his responsibility as the co-founder of Medley Capital and Key Investments. He promotes FDI and FII across North & Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East, and also specializes in cross-border international investment & investment migration. He is currently the board member in Medley Capital, Finco, FidentiaX, Bluechip Capital, Seguro Group, Arlo Associates, Key Investments and many more. What’s more, he also acts as a judge and an investor in various start-up events and competitions.


Varis is equally passionate about FINCASA Capital’s approach to CSR. He regularly initiates numerous philanthropic activities across the globe. He believes that improving communities has a direct bearing on the success of the firm and its employees. He also holds that he has a duty towards the people he works with within the company. Apart from contributing to social welfare activities, he also designs and implements several CSR initiatives. He stands tall among his peers for his stellar contributions. He is indeed a leader who walks the talk.

Ramesh Gopal

A prudent risk management leader in the region, Ramesh is majorly responsible for the reduction in credit risk losses for the bank thereby leading to a very healthy portfolio. This has directly contributed to its growth and no wonder, Deutsche Bank is headed for growth in the MEA region. Under his able leadership, the bank registered the lowest NPL (Non-Performing Ratio) in Turkey in the years 2018 and 2019 (Source: SNL) amidst the most turbulent period for Turkish economy in decades.

Ramesh possesses a rich experience in Risk Management (Corporate, FI, Sovereigns, Structured financing, Investment Banking & Retail Banking) and Relationship Management (Corporate Banking) covering conventional and Islamic Banking. He has efficaciously handled all tiers of corporate business including SMEs, mid, large and very large corporates.

By virtue of his varied roles with Multinational and Regional Banks in Managerial capacity, he has gained exposure of handling credit risk of 28 different countries across Middle East, Africa, Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey & France) and India.


Ramesh is extremely passionate about teaching and training and contributes by sharing his knowledge and experience by teaching management level students so that he could bring theory and practice together. “I teach various management and finance subjects to students in Dubai as part of my inner drive to impart education in the field of finance,” he says.

According to him, the 3Ps of growth on which every leader should focus are People, Productivity and Performance. He has introduced multiple initiatives for people development under the vision ‘Grow & Enable Growth.’ He asserts, “Holistic development of an individual is always at the forefront of my priorities.”

He brought about various initiatives for knowledge and skills enhancement of his team in the organisations he has worked with. By virtue of various training programs initiated by him, his teams have shown significant improvement in self-awareness, emotional competency, self-motivational skills, empathy & social skills.


According to Ramesh, the acid test of a good leader is whether he or she can survive the adversities posed by the changing market scenario. According to him, “How a leader navigates or saves his ship during rough weather is the most important.” He asserts, “Challenge the challenge, else you will be challenged.”

Ramesh is of the view that a true leader should have empathy for his people, be a crisis manager and a good communicator. Describing his leadership style, he asserts, “Participative, Peoplefocused hands-on leadership” has been my style. Leaders either micro manage or have a laissez-faire approach, both of which prove counterproductive. Finding mid-way leaders in today’s world where results delivery is the key KPI, has become difficult. In such an environment, while no micro management is resorted to, I believe in knowing the way to do every function within my remit. This has helped in managing manpower planning, succession planning, workload analysis and employee coaching in an effective manner.”

His earnest efforts, dedication and passion have enabled Ramesh to come a long way. He vehemently believes that “being appointed as the Vice Chairman of the UAE Banking Federation’s Risk Committee was the career high point. This was a risk consultative committee chosen amongst risk professionals from 52 different banks within the country.”

He further elaborates, “This was achieved through gaining the confidence of the fellow bankers in the country which in turn was gained through consistent practice of effective risk management during my tenure in risk management in this country.”

Sharing his vision for the future growth of the organisation, he delineates, “Facilitating risk management to achieve a near zero credit risk loss in the Middle East and Africa region in the next 2-3 years is the short term goal.” “Establishing an industry-best business and risk model across the region is the long term vision,” he adds.


Ramesh is an altruist by nature and is deeply dedicated to making this world a better place. He emphasizes, “CSR is key not only to my company but also to me in my personal capacity. Deutsche undertakes multiple CSR initiatives not only in UAE but in other Middle Eastern countries as well through the Bank’s Middle East Foundation. CSR is core to our values in the Middle East, we have a separate department for this, and a regular budget is allocated annually.”

He further elaborates, “In my personal capacity, I have been involved in teaching and supporting Refugee mentorship programs. I have focused on the needy segment of the society and have personally coached them for various professional exams over the years and as a result, it is gratifying to have built a pool of professionals in UAE and India”

He adds, “We have distributed free hygiene kits to hundreds of workers in the country. For those rendered unemployed without shelter and waiting to be repatriated back home, free clothing and food was collected and distributed.”


Ramesh has garnered numerous awards and accolades in his illustrious career spanning around 2 decades.

He was felicitated with ‘Excellence in Finance Industry – Leaders’ award for his rich contribution to the finance industry in the Middle East. He is also the recipient of the ‘Hichki Teachers’ Award’ for his outstanding contribution to the field of education in the UAE.

Amongst various awards recognizing his holistic contribution, the ‘EMEA Paragon Award for Leadership’ in the MEA category stands a testament to his leadership in many walks of life.

Pradeep Lala


Armed with a team of industry stalwarts, Mr. Lala pursues excellence with values based on integrity & transparency. He has devised remarkable techniques to help clients evolve in critical areas by offering data-centric & technology driven solutions for Integrated Facility Management. He ensures that his teams are exceptionally proficient in handling tasks & designing value-added solutions that foster the client experience. Mr. Lala is also responsible for expanding the firm’s footprint outside of the Embassy Group, establishing themselves in all verticals of the real estate spectrum – from IT parks to Airports! Owing to these, ESPL has become one of the most preferred Integrated Facility Management partners in India, serving over 80 Million Sq.ft of area across 15 cities.


Through their globally certified practices in IFM, the firm manages facilities that hold LEED & IGBC Platinum certifications amongst others. Their commitment to excellence was recognized through awards such as the EHS Excellence Award with 5-Star Rating for best sustainability practices from CII. Adding to its wall of fame are other recognitions such as ‘Best CEO of an Integrated FM Firm’ by Marketing Mavericks, ‘Best Integrated FM firm of the year’ by The Time Group, & certified one among ‘India’s Greatest Leaders’ by AsiaOne. Its various certificates are a testimony to the company’s flawless property management, specialist services, & occupational health & safety management systems. After all, not every firm can boast about receiving the ‘Sword of Honor’ from the British Safety Council for two consecutive years.


With the determination to bring about a positive change in society, Mr. Lala promotes CSR with genuity. The support extended to the police forces during COVID through PPE kits & refreshment stops across all their parks Pan-India was commendable. The firm used its competency in Housekeeping to train the Govt. on efficiently managing COVID relief centers in Maharashtra. The drone disinfection drive conducted in Worli, Mumbai furthered the ability to ensure sanitation across areas previously inaccessible. The greatest contribution for the post covid era though, the donation of a state-of-the-art recording studio to create digital educational content that would reach over 41 lakh students in Karnataka & for professional teacher training programs. By raising pillars of support, we thrive as a species.

Anup Agarwal

Owing to his boundless dedication to excel and immense passion to make it big, Anup has swiftly climbed up the ladder of success. Bright Diva International is a very young company which was co-founded by him in the year 2015; merely within two years of its operation the firm has achieved 10% of market share within the K-Beauty (Korean Cosmetics) category in Hong Kong thereby emerging as the Top K-beauty distributor in the region.


Driven by passion to excel in every endeavour he undertakes, Anup is an excellent communicator, and possesses the qualities of decisiveness, flexibility and risk-taking appetite. He vehemently believes that “Every effective leader must have the ability to make sound decisions in any given situation. Decisiveness is one of the characteristics which an effective leader must possess.” As a leader who leads by example, Anup feels that “Leaders must possess the ability to lead by example. If you want your employees to follow you, then you have to lead them by example and enthusiasm. As a leader, it is up to you – not to tell, but to show and set example.”

He is of the view that “A business leader must be an Effective Communicator and be able to explain the team members the company goals clearly and succinctly, in particular the specific task as to what the company expects from them. If the people do not understand or are not aware of your expectations, they will fall short in delivering the result.”

He vehemently believes that exceptional leaders are the driving force behind a firm’s success as they inspire employees to succeed by boosting their morale. Talking about the traits of Exceptional leaders, he elaborates, “Exceptional leaders have the ability to look into their company’s future and make clear, concrete goals that will benefit their organization. They are confident and optimistic. They are openminded and have a flexible approach and are ready to experiment with new ideas.”

He feels, “Compelling leaders motivate their employees to strive wholeheartedly for their company goals. They are able to create lasting relationships with varied network of people, leaders, partners, clients and even competitors.”

He concludes, “Every business comes with a risk; it is the risk-taking appetite in such a competitive world that defines a leader.”


Despite having tasted success quite early in life, Anup feels that he has a long way to go. As he puts it, “Well there is still more to achieve in terms of career. But until now my career high point I would say is achieving the top position in K-beauty Distribution within just 2 years of our operation. K-beauty in Hong Kong in the year 2019 was 1 billion USD market, out of which we have captured 150 Million USD. We are already present in 9 countries and have successfully built an organisation of almost 250 people.”

He asserts with pride, “To be able to reach here was not easy and it did take a lot of hard work and passion. Each member of Bright Diva family has contributed to the growth and all the success would not have been possible without the great team that we have.”

Talking about the significance of his role models in his success, he elaborates, “I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life, but the contribution of my uncle has been immense in shaping up my career. They taught me how to ‘believe in yourself’ and respect every work. I learned that one needs to just have the three basic qualities to grow in life – Trust yourself, Ownership of responsibility, and Passion in your work (T.O.P.).”

He doesn’t believe in sitting back and resting on his laurels but feels that he has a lot to achieve. Sharing his vision for the future growth of his company, he stresses, “My aim is to work towards the recognition of Bright Diva as the best distribution company in Asia and maybe globally in future within the FMCG, H&B industry. We want to be the most preferred and strategic partner for great brands wanting to have their footprints within the countries where we are present. Even though a lot of challenges are there, but we are very confident that we will be able to achieve these goals.”


Possessing a heart of gold, Anup has been continually inclined towards making the world a better place. “At Bright Diva we have always believed in returning back to the community; corporate social responsibility is at the heart of Bright Diva and we participate in every possible opportunity to engage in paying back to the community,” he asserts.

Sharing his views on CSR, he states, “Social responsibility is part of everyday life for everyone; one biggest social responsibility I believe for any organisation is to create jobs. It is our responsibility to be able to keep our employees’ lives as balanced as possible; then to train and nurture them to be able to become future business owners so that they can also start their own business and create further jobs. With success comes responsibility, we have been trying to help the needy as much as we can. We have partnered with the Cancer Fund of Hong Kong to help women in fighting breast cancer.

Stating some of the measures undertaken by him to combat the pandemic, he says, “At the peak stage of COVID-19; we procured around 500,000 face masks from Korea and sold them at cost to major local retailers and brought crucial supplies to the people of Hong Kong; and part of the proceeds was donated to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.” He adds, “To meet the demand and give the city a further boost in fight against ongoing pandemic, we are currently importing USD 4 Million worth of sanitizing supplies; including hand sanitizers, antibacterial hand wash and body wash. We have partnered with Unilever to import products by Lifebuoy and made them available at over 3,000 retail location across Hong Kong; enabling to ease out the demands and panic buying. Together with this we have also donated big quantity of surgical masks and hand sanitizers to every section of society.”

Damodar R Katti

An accomplished professional with extensive experience in specialised architectural and engineering services, including BIM (Building Information Modelling) as well as  project & construction management, he has successfully completed numerous Indian and international projects. He appreciates the fact that India has acquired a position of prominence in the post Covid-19 world under the quintessential leadership of PM Modi. He reposes faith in the immense potential of the country and its people and is looking forward to not only expanding India operations but also making it an Engineering Consultancy Back-office of the world by attracting, recruiting, retaining and utilising millennial talent from the industry. He also intends to collaborate with the big players in India through mergers / acquisitions / Joint Ventures / Consortium and bid for mega projects not only in India but worldwide.


It is a widely acknowledged fact that determination is the key to successful leadership. Without determination, nothing comes to fruition. Mr. Damodar is one such determined leader who believes in carving his own path to success. As he puts it, “There was always fire in the belly to set up a business of my own. Early in my career, I learnt the skills to handle the 3Cs (major players in any construction industry) Client, Consultant & Contractors. Coming to Oman in 2005, I left my job in 2010 and started off with my own firm – Design Group Engineering Consultants LLC (DGEC) in Muscat, Oman with two employees. Within 10 years the company has offices in Oman, UAE, Uganda & India with over 150 employees.”

Owing to his exemplary leadership, “Several stalled projects in Education & Hospitality sectors were re-engineered and delivered by DGEC in Oman.” He adds, “The recent financial situation in the Middle East did not deter us but encouraged us to diversify into Roads & Highway design services. Converting a challenge into an opportunity has always been my forte.”

He takes pride in the fact that “Today DGEC is one of the fastest growing engineering consulting firms in the region with an unparalleled reputation for professionalism. Strategic alliances with several leading consultants worldwide enable us to offer specialized Architectural and Engineering services, including BIM (Building Information Modelling), and Project Management Consultancy Services. We also offer solutions in various sectors and on variety of projects, including iconic buildings, healthcare and educational buildings. DGEC is also active in logistics warehousing, industrial, roads and infrastructures, multi-level car parking and project management.”


A true leader knows how to bring out the best in others. He is an exemplary leader who motivates his team to put their best foot forward every time. He feels “Leadership qualities may be inborn to some extent. But these can be developed by accepting challenges & responsibilities.” Sharing his leadership mantra, he says, “I encourage my team to take responsibilities and motivate them to take the lead. Although, I take the responsibility initially, I hand over the baton to others to lead and work towards achieving the collective goals and progress.”

He further elaborates, “At DGEC – if someone has the capabilities, credentials, and the right attitude, we give them the right environment, encouragement, mentoring, support to grow professionally, and of course the right emoluments. There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy. When this happens, there is loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. It’s like watching the air go out of a balloon – and cynicism and disappointment usually take its place. Being in a leadership position, my team look up to me for inspiration. That’s part of what being a leader is. And a big part of my responsibility is to lead them with my own actions. Employees are given deadlines but are free to decide their own priorities. Rarely, if ever, I have seen a project milestone getting delayed.”


According to Mr. Damodar, “Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is an important factor in establishing company’s public image and reputation and is a great way to give back to society.”

Sharing his philanthropic vision, he elaborates, “We believe in our potential to make an impact on society; we also have the ability to bring ideas to life that are beneficial for everyone. We understand our social responsibility towards our clients and the projects we handle. We have a responsibility to the communities our work touches – from the way a building looks to the social impact it makes. Environmentally, we have an enormous role to play as guardians of the future, because the things we build today will have a lasting impact tomorrow.”


For his outstanding contribution to business and society, Mr. Damodar was recognised as CEO of the Year at Dossier Construction Infrastructure Awards & Summit, Muscat in December 2020. He was recognised as one of the 100 Most Influential CEOs in Oman by Oman Economic Review Magazine in August 2019. Owing to his dedicated efforts, DGEC was awarded the Best Engineering Consultant at Dossier Construction Infrastructure Awards & Summit, Muscat for 2 consecutive years – 2019 and 2020. DGEC was awarded the Brand Leadership Awards – Oman by CMO Asia in July 2019. The event was endorsed by World Sustainability, World CSR and World Federation of Marketing. DGEC was also awarded “Excellence in Engineering Services” at the International Business Awards 2019, Dubai, UAE by Observer Dawn in September 2019. “

I humbly dedicate my achievements to my parents and family who have always been a source of inspiration and unfailing support. I am greatful to my teachers and the Almighty without whose blessings this would not have been possible. My thanks also goes to all the thousand others who are a part of what I do – the clients, consultants, suppliers, end-users, media and of course my colleagues without whose vision, dedication and efforts par excellence, this success would not have been possible,” he concludes.

Dr. Vinod Sekhar

An achiever through and through, Datuk (Dr) Vinod has many firsts to his credit. He was one of the first Malaysians to venture into the former Soviet Union after its dissolution and was a part of the privatization of its second largest petrochemical plant. He was also the first Southeast Asian to own both Formula 2000 and Formula 3 Championship motorsport teams, and he founded Malaysia’s first sports car company. He started East Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable farm in Malaysia, 3 years before the PM called for the development of commercial vegetable farms.


Starting his career at a nascent age while he was still in college, Datuk Vinod established Vincent Siefer Clothing Co. and formed the Sitavani Foundation, which works dedicatedly for the education of children and conducts child development programs. In 1990, he co-founded the STI Group and was responsible for some groundbreaking businesses such as the world’s smallest optic engine, Southeast Asia’s first commercial Internet company, and a variety of other technological innovations. The multimedia arm of the group was behind the first Malaysian joint venture to produce a movie at Disney MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida (Tarzan: The Epic Adventures). After 1997, STI merged with other international interests and The Petra Group was created. Petra is a technology conglomerate responsible for several global technology developments related to Elastomer recycling (Green Rubber), deproteinization, HIV treatment programs, innovative financial software, biophotonics and biofuels.

Talking about his career high point, he elaborates, “There are two. The first being the innovations and technologies we have introduced over the last three decades and what they have achieved. I started the first Southeast Asia commercial internet company in 1993. At that time, there were only 700 internet users in Malaysia. No one really understood what the internet was. But now, the internet is everything.”

He adds, “Another business I’m very proud of is Green Rubber (GR). The revolutionary DeLink technology was invented by my late father, Tan Sri Dr B.C. Sekhar and his friend, Dr Vitaly Kormer, one of Russia’s leading scientists. I took what they started and worked on a commercial version and kept developing it. It took me 15 years and over US$50 million (RM216.5 million) to get it right. We are now on DeLink 4.0, and ready to take on the world.”


Datuk Vinod is a great advocate of ‘Social Capitalism’ which rests on the premise that business interests and societal concerns must work hand in hand. He has been vocal for “simple principles of a civilized society” where all businessmen must involve themselves in their own society’s positive development. As he puts it, “I have been called a ‘Social Capitalist’ by the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, and I humbly accept the moniker as I truly believe that social capitalism is the only true form of capitalism. The spirit of social capitalism (for-profit enterprise in which wealth creation and social good are motivators) is how I lead and do business.” He further adds, “I put just as much emphasis on the way I do business as I do on the outcomes of my entrepreneurial endeavours. All the companies under PETRA Group in one way or another contribute towards wealth creation and bettering lives. Everyone in the PETRA team, from my senior executives to our support staff, understand and believe in the idea of doing it right by doing something good. That starts with me ensuring my employees and their families are well taken care of, and then empowering the communities around us.” He considered his father as a guiding light and has been deeply inspired by his ideals and values. As he puts it, “The biggest inspiration of my life is my father, Tan Sri B.C. Sekhar (19292006). From leading an organisation that held sway over tens of billions of dollars of income for Malaysia, he retired as a normal pensioner. No big directorships, no big cash hoard in banks, no private businesses. What he felt more important than anything was the love of his family, the respect of his peers & his integrity.”


Always inclined towards giving back to society, Datuk Vinod is of the view that “Our companies must create products or deliver services that enrich communities by creating wealth. It may be in the form of creating jobs and providing entrepreneurial opportunities, or through education, healthcare & economic empowerment.” Throwing light upon his various socially beneficial initiatives, he says, “The Sekhar Foundation has impacted the lives of over 12,000 children globally. We have built and funded schools and orphanages in Malaysia, India, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In Armenia, Colombia, we were involved in rebuilding the city after a devastating landslide, and built an orphanage, the PetraValentina House. I am also the Chairman of the Pelita Harapan for terminally ill children, Co-Chairman of the Innocent Child Appeal Fund Board for abused children, and the Chairman of the Sitavani Foundation.” He adds, “The Vinod Sekhar Foundation contributed PPE and test kits for medical front liners, while the food and medical aid were for the low income group during the pandemic. We have also funded a special Malindo Air charter flight to bring home 40 Malaysians who were stranded in Kerala, India, during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO).”


The World Economic Forum named him as one of its 40 “New Asian Leaders” (NAL). For his outstanding contribution to the world of business, Grant Thornton named him the Malaysian Corporate Leader of the Year in August 2008. In 2008, he received the prestigious Global Green Award from Global Green USA for Green Rubber. He was the youngest, only Asian, & the third ever non-American, after President Mikhail Gorbachev & Giorgio Armani, to receive the award. He has received several other awards such as Global Indian Award presented by the Minister for Overseas Indians in Delhi, Global Indian Origin Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Business Leaders of Indian Origin in the world, the Outstanding Global Entrepreneur by the SME Association, & The Societe Award from the Asia Pacific Brand Foundation, to name a few.

Kartik Shethia

A postgraduate in Business Management from XLRI Jamshedpur and in Marketing from Symbiosis, Kartik is a software programmer by qualification. He is a thorough professional who believes in continually upgrading his knowledge and skills and has recently attended a few executive courses with INSEAD at their Singapore and Fontainebleau, France campuses. In July 2019 Kartik completed his certification in Digital Business strategy from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Having started his journey with Herman Miller as the Country Manager for India in 2009, Kartik has contributed immensely to its success and growth. In fact he has grown with the organization. He quickly went on to become the Director of the company followed by Strategic Business lead to manage China and Hong Kong and within a year was entrusted with the opportunity of leading the Contract business for APAC. In 2015, he moved to Hong Kong for this new role and in 2016 was promoted as Vice President for APAC region. In early 2020, he was given the responsibility of HM Internal Business Unit in India and during COVID-19 period Middle East and Africa were added to his existing region, resulting in an extended region called APMEA.

He has played a significant role in expanding the Online and Retail business for the organization from Japan and China to rest of the region. He has been largely responsible for creating the Korean entity and growing the business at a CAGR of 41% in 4 years. Kartik is full of gratitude for Herman Miller, which gave him ample opportunities to grow and evolve as a leader.

When asked about his career high point, he delineates, “It is difficult to contextualize high point in one’s career, as every high point is a step in the direction of the next high point. So, if I were to call out one such high point, it would be joining this wonderful organization Herman Miller because this job has given me several such high points in the last eleven years – each special and significant in their own way.”


An autonomous leader, Kartik emphasizes upon individualism, independence and autonomy. He intends to make people feel strong, capable and committed so that they perform to the best of their capabilities. He asserts, “I am someone who has believed in giving autonomy to my people and the key to put that trust in the people is to hire well. 90% of your job is done if you recruit the right person for the job and then granting autonomy is easy. The most important thing while hiring is not to hire someone who is like you, because if you clone yourself you are not going to get freshness of ideas and new routes to meet your business goals.”

Kartik very well understands the significance of harbouring trust among his teammates. He rightly emphasizes, “Ours is a matrix organization, a model which has worked very well for us. The matrix leads typically have been with the organization for over 10 years and so the familiarity, understanding and mutual respect between the leads has helped in fostering an environment of trust leading to everyone, including the team members of each matrix organization, working in a cohesive manner towards a common goal. And the very people centric nature of the organization takes out the sense of insecurity amongst the employees allowing them to focus on the given task. (We have in the past been rated as the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune).”


An enthusiastic and optimistic leader, Kartik envisions COVID-19 as an opportunity to explore and look beyond the current offerings of the firm so as to seek fresh avenues to diversify and expand. Talking about his vision for the future growth of the organization, he elaborates, “In the current scenario, my short term goal will certainly be to keep our flock together and to keep them motivated, to think about what new product offerings and solutions we will need to be ready with for this new and altered world and to keep the engagement going with influencers in the market. Mid to longer term would be to tap the opportunities that we have generated with these new solutions and engagements.”

Talking about some of the measures he had undertaken to cope with the challenges faced in the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation, he says, “First and foremost was to ensure the safety of our colleagues. Protocols were set to sanitize the offices at regular intervals. Strict travel protocols have been put in and stay in place even today with very few exceptions. These protocols have been appreciated by our employees and they feel safe and proud to work with a company that puts the interest of the employee first.”

He adds, “We took up several initiatives where we offered counselling to our employees to help them in dealing with these tough times as they are first on our list to give back to the society.”

“Several community activities were undertaken and continue to be undertaken where we are getting food or other necessities delivered to people most affected by this pandemic. In addition, Work From Home initiatives taken up by our corporate customers were supported by us by extending deep discounts to their employees so as to enable them to equip their homes with ergonomic high quality furniture to ensure that their body is supported well when working from home,” he says.


He truly understands the significance of CSR and enthusiastically participates in giving back to society. As he puts it, “In 1953 our founder D. J. De Pree made a statement that ‘We will be good stewards of the Environment,’ – at a time when there was no apparent environmental threat or for that matter no carbon credits or hole in ozone, but he had that vision for the earth. This direction is ingrained in every Herman Miller employee & pursued at all levels and all products have been designed keeping in mind the environmental impact. Beyond that, Herman Miller Cares – our division which is very active in giving back to the society engages with all our locations across the world to make sure that we are contributing more than our share to the society.”

R. V. Gumaste

A graduate in Metallurgical Engineering from Karnataka Regional Engineering College, Surathkal, Mr. Gumaste joined Kirloskar Group in July 1981. In 1993, he joined Kirloskar Ferrous project team in the early stages of project implementation. Mr. Gumaste took over as Executive Director in July 2002 and as Managing Director in 2003. Under his leadership, the firm has witnessed improved profitability and has been in a continuous profit-making mode since the last 16 years. As Executive Director, he played a significant role in turning it around to make it an enviable organization. By virtue of his visionary leadership, he turned around the 100+ year old foundry unit (a sick unit) – Shivaji works LTD Solapur in 2007 – into a profit-making firm and helped in creating infrastructure for manufacturing export quality castings to Global OEMs. The organization has also invested in coke oven with power plant, power generated by using the Waste Heat Recovery technology thereby achieving a near self-sufficiency in the power requirement at Koppal plant at a marginal cost of power generation. Similarly, the company has invested in Solar power plant in Koppal as well as Solapur to achieve green energy and also benefit on the power cost. The company has acquired a Pig Iron asset to achieve business growth. To enhance bandwidth in line with Business growth, Technology adaptations in manufacturing process including Robotics and 3D printing were successfully implemented. Owing to his dedicated efforts, KFIL was listed among the Fortune 500 companies in the year 2019 under the category of mid-size company.


A leader par excellence, Mr. Gumaste has been efficiently steering the organisation to glory by walking the talk and establishing a climate of trust and transparency, and creating adequate facilities for nurturing and honing technical and managerial skills of employees. Thus, many of them have taken up higher responsibilities with ownership and empowerment. His business acumen, analytical skills, strategic thinking, cool composure and empathy cast a positive influence on the people working with him. No wonder, a few of the employees who have grown under him, are holding responsible positions like Functional Heads, SBU Heads, and Plant Heads. He is a true leader who believes in creating leaders. His focus is to inculcate and balance technical skills with soft skills including managerial and business skills by facilitating various internationally renowned managerial development programs in the organization. He strongly believes and demonstrates “people first” in all KFIL actions. Under his leadership, KFIL regularly carries out assessment for people competencies and skills, with an aim to identify fast trackers and future business leaders. Based on the inputs from expert trainers, assessment focused training programs are evolved and are monitored at defined intervals. For people development activities, the inputs are taken from Employee engagement surveys by 3rd party; Focused groups interviews, Business Excellence assessment feedbacks, Thomas Profiling (DISC profiling), 360 degree feedback, Emotional intelligence, inputs from other stake holders and so on. Mr. Gumaste has built an Ecosystem involving key stakeholders in communicating the Purpose, Vision and Strategy and building transparency, mutual trust and mutual growth by arranging vendor meets where KFIL business plans and preparedness of the vendors are discussed and necessary technical and other related helps are extended.


To cater to continuous business growth, he has brought transformation in the areas of Technology, People and Processes, and has introduced contemporary technologies in Foundry: conventional to advanced technologies like robotics in many of the processes, simulation and 3D modelling to process design and latest technology like 3D printing (Industry 4.0), and UG 3D modeling Software for 3D model designing. This has enabled the organisation to bring in international customers like Volvo, Hino and Daimler – serving Euro VI engine blocks – for the first time from India. With regard to the Pig Iron Plant, he has introduced Shaft-less stoves – Russian technology which resulted in increased gas temperature, thereby leading to reduction of coke consumption and further commissioned Coke Oven plant to gain advantage of cost with quality Coke. KFIL is the first company to set up Sinter plant in MBF category to reduce the cost by utilising iron ore fines and thus reducing the cost of production.


Under his exemplary leadership, KFIL is committed to K-Group’s purpose of “Enriching Lives” and aims “to be a preferred Employer & responsible neighbour.” Since inception, KFIL is engaged in societal development, through various programs aimed at improving quality of life of community in vicinity. It has integrated social concerns with business approaches respecting the needs and expectations of all stakeholders including society and “values the opportunity and responsibility to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Kirloskar Ferrous Rural Development Trust  has been  established to cater to the requirements of Koppal, Hospet & Solapur region. People in the nearby villages and the surrounding region are beneficiaries of his dedicated social endeavors. They include setting up a health center and offering specialist medical services. Multispecialty health check-up camps and blood donation camps are being conducted every year. Preventive health-care awareness & vaccination drives are being conducted on a regular basis. He also works towards nutrition support to pregnant women & old people, financial assistance for treatment of major illnesses, water management in the nearby villages & providing drinking water facility and so on. Constructed “Sthree Shakthi Karyalaya” to empower women by giving training on tailoring, beautician, food processing etc. His focus areas are Health & Hygiene, Community Development, Education & Environment. He has been creating awareness about Water, Sanitation and Hygiene through the WaSH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) initiative. 54 schools and around 14 thousand children have benefited from this initiative.  Through Vasundara Film Festival, every year, movies related to environment conservation in Hospet, Koppal and Solapur are screened.

Sundarraj Ponnusamy


Hailing from a humble background, Mr. Sundarraj gave up his studies at the University of Madras in pursuit of his goals. From his first job as a clerk in an organization to becoming the branch in-charge, he has consistently given his best at every stage. Today, he commands and guides the company that has various offerings including Subham Expressways, Subham Express Cargo LLP and Subham Hostels. As a first generation entrepreneur, he established the company in 2002 and in a short span of time it has achieved huge success.


Mr. Sundarraj gave up his job as a clerk and started working on his dream of developing Subham Groups to take care of the financial needs of his family. In 2002, with Subham Tours and Travels, he set off on a journey that went on to gain a lot more momentum. He then expanded to Subham Freight Carriers India Pvt. Ltd. in 2005 and set up the first branch in Pune. With sheer dedication and a clear vision, he was able to establish it as a Private Limited company in 2011.


In just a little over a decade since its inception, Subham Groups has grown to achieve the 204-crore mark in revenue. Having established itself as an impressive and popular logistics service provider, Subham Groups presently enjoys holding a huge customer base across diverse industries in India. Reliability and efficiency are the pillars on which the company stands tall. In his entrepreneurial journey, Mr. Sundarraj ensures that the company keeps up with the expectations of its valuable clients.