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This year I complete three years in my role as Managing Director and still have a clear recollection of the day my father Mr. Ramesh B. Parekh handed over the reins to me and the butterflies in my stomach. The mandate he gave was simple but difficult: Build. Secure. Grow. My father founded Gandhar in 1992, and our company proved to be a poster child of Liberalisation which abolished the Licence Raj and also incentivised foreign investment and technology advancements and gave Gandhar the much-needed impetus to leap into an exponential growth trajectory.  

Today, on the eve of our 30th anniversary, I can truthfully say that in spite of the many fledgling years I faced at the company from my earliest years here as a young graduate, the last three years have been the sharpest for me in terms of a learning curve. Before I stepped into my present role as Managing Director, I always knew my father was there to absorb the economic and environmental ups and downs that come with running an entrepreneurial business like ours. It is only when he stepped back that I truly understood and am still understanding the magnitude and meaning of that support which is what inspires me every day.

I am proud to report that Gandhar’s sales have in terms of volume gone up by 32% in last 5 years. This has been a result of the foundation, core values, momentum and focus put in place by the previous generation which is being carried forward by my talented, passionate and high performing colleagues. Some of the milestones of the team include setting up Texol Lubritech FZC in 2019, a JV across the Arabian Sea in Sharjah manufacturing the same range of products as in India, for local and global markets. We have also carved a niche for ourselves in the automotive industry, specifically two-wheelers and will very soon have a separate, fully automated plant at Silvassa which is also home to other Gandhar production facilities for lubricants and greases to meet the growing demand of the automotive market. The pandemic that struck the world last year also gave our mineral oil unit an occasion to serve the pharma industry and the nation as we confronted this crippling crisis. At Gandhar, we quickly revamped our liquid paraffin production lines to cater to the stringent and urgent need for this ingredient which is used in the production of the Hydroxychloroquine drug that has been prescribed in the treatment against coronavirus.

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As I stepped in to the role of Managing Director, I tried to handle the transition from my father mindfully while also hitting the ground running because I knew the impact this would have not just on people reporting to me but on all stakeholders could be enormous. A new leader should not only have a 100-60-30-day plan but also a leadership pitch or mantra that is set in motion from day one. My mantra very simply put was to be a warrior not a worrier. It was not deliberately something I churned out for the times we are in but it turned out to be a motto that resonated with our professionals and one that they wanted to hear from their new leader.

Here’s my take on what it entails to be a warrior. Warriors want to know if a leader can handle their job and help the team do theirs better. They evaluate your competencies and leadership approach.

From a new leader they want to know whether you have what it takes to do the job. Leaders on their part need to accept this type of questioning positively and not question the intent. Warriors also want to know if you will be an agile, hands-on leader who will jump in and take responsibility to make sure the team is kept up-to-date, while protecting employees when there are issues with upper management.

Worriers on the other hand are looking for job security. They circumvent taking decisions, and are more concerned about the leader’s supervising style, long term plans and how they should be approached in a crisis.

Indeed leaders today need to relate the purpose and vision of the company personally with employees. Everybody wants to be part of a success story and the leader’s job is to win over the team’s support and give them reason to believe it would be mutually reciprocated.