Suresh earned his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (Evanston, IL, USA) and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, India. The well-versed leader is proficient in “Strategy Deployment” – a methodology for chalking out and implementing strategies that result in transformative performance in complex businesses. His specialities include scaling companies for rapid growth, managing global P&Ls, integrating acquisitions, expanding gross margins, managing global supply chains, and leveraging operational excellence.
A Forward-thinking Leader
Suresh took over NTE as CEO in April 2020, a period when the company needed a cultural and financial turnaround. Under his sterling leadership, a cultural and leadership transformation has taken place in the company in the last two years. Since its inception in 1981, NTE has been a founder-led business; however, Suresh, with his leadership skills, soon transformed the organisation into one with an entrepreneurial mindset. With his relentless efforts, the focused leader has enabled the organisation to serve a record 3.6 million customers in the last two years. Furthermore, due to his efforts, the company’s revenues have increased by 42% to $1.6 billion, and gross margins have increased by 190 basis points.
NTE’s workforce has grown to over 3600 employees under Suresh’s leadership. With a visionary 5-year growth plan in mind, the goal-driven leader has led the company to establish a second headquarter in Hyderabad, India, which currently employs over 50 employees. He plans to double its employee base and expand its capability over the next year. He also plans to double NTE’s revenues through a 5-year growth plan. Essentially, this strategy entails expanding brick-and-mortar retail stores.
He is investing heavily in a multi-year organizational transformation that will provide an exceptional end to end experience for customers. He also aims to double the company’s profits in the next five years by investing heavily in NTE’s omnichannel and e-commerce prowess and training his team members to serve their defined customer audience better than others.
Due to Suresh’s goal-driven strategies, NTE has gained a competitive advantage through significant technological investments, innovative brand strategies, omnichannel customer experience, and speed. Suresh says, “The customer experience is at the heart of everything we do at NTE.” He combines a deep knowledge of market research, consumer insights, and data & analytics to boost customer experience. The forward-thinking leader has helped the company achieve strong NPS and Google rankings by consistently delivering an omnichannel experience across the 126-store footprint.
A People Person
The goal of his life is to motivate and help others achieve their maximum potential. Suresh finds great joy in providing his team with opportunities to try new things. Throughout his career, he was influenced by several mentors; however, it was his high school soccer coach who had the biggest impact on the leader. He says, “After losing a championship game that was expected to be won, our coach had said that no matter how well prepared we are, sometimes even the best teams can lose. Therefore, we need to build resiliency and learn from mistakes to bounce back, whether we are playing next time or resolving the next problem.” “The ideologies and teachings of our soccer coach inspire me every day to lead 3,500+ employees,” he says.
In addition to serving as NTE’s CEO, Suresh also sits on the Carlson School of Management’s Board of Advisors. He also teaches at renowned B-schools, including Northwestern’s Kellogg School, the University of Michigan’s Ross School, and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School. Suresh is known for his problem solving abilities. He says, “My experience working and living on three continents has taught me to overcome cultural and geographical barriers for solving problems efficiently.”
In order to set bold and courageous goals, he leverages the available data to get a quick grasp of problems. His team spirit is also noteworthy. The seasoned leader also believes in empowering his team. He inspires his team members to communicate, debate, and challenge openly, but when a decision is made, they support it unanimously.
Suresh considers himself a lifelong learner and is always looking for ways to learn from others. Throughout his career, he has helped several organisations create new markets, leverage global supply chains, establish talent pools, and build new capabilities using global thinking.
It has been a career milestone for him to help several companies embrace the global environment as a growth opportunity.
Giving Back to Society
Suresh emphasises CSR, especially in terms of environmental awareness. “As a manufacturer of high-powered gas engine equipment, we are also on the cutting edge of diversifying our unique commercial grade product portfolio with battery power. We are launching the first-of-its-kind battery powered log splitter and skid sprayer, with more to come,” he says. He considers battery-powered equipment an innovative and crucial way to help customers do their tasks more efficiently and effectively.
He makes sure that the company comes forward to express solidarity, particularly during times of natural catastrophe. He has led NTE in establishing multiple stores to serve in disaster-prone areas such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida to help customers recover from hurricanes and other natural disasters. He praises his team, saying they are quick to mobilise and offer relief to our communities during catastrophic failures and emergency relief efforts.
Finally, Suresh has been a huge proponent for serving the trades and building future trades professionals. Two important examples illustrate this: NTE’s Tools for the Trades program and their support of the Texas High School Welding Series. “Tools for the Trades partners with high school career and technical education programs by donating much needed tools and equipment to provide instructors with the right tools they need to teach the classes. Through our leadership in the Texas High School Welding Series, we partner with Texas based companies to host welding events where students can earn the professional certification needed to begin their career in welding.”
Because of his leadership initiatives, numerous awards and accolades have been bestowed on the organisation. In 2022, Newsweek named NTE’s e-commerce website the Best Online Shop in the DIY, Tools, and Supplies category. Moreover, NTE has consistently been recognised as one of Minnesota’s Top Workplaces for five consecutive years. From a product perspective, NTE’s NorthStar brand NorthStar Electric Power Washer, designed and built at NTE’s manufacturing facilities, won Consumer Reports’ award as Best Heavy-Duty Electric Power Washer in 2021. What’s more, as a company dedicated to innovation, NTE has been granted 66 patents around the globe.