It is hard for me to believe that after 28 exciting years of working together, Dr Pawan Goenka will be retiring today.
I do not need to recap the details of Pawan's career with the company. All of you well know how he started as a General Manager reporting to the head of Automotive R&D at Nashik and rose to cap his career as the MD and CEO of Mahindra & Mahindra. That is an impressive trajectory. But it does not tell us enough about the committed, conscientious, and compassionate human being that is Pawan Goenka.
When I became Deputy Managing Director in 1991, the two functions that reported to me directly were R&D and Industrial Relations. Pawan joined the Group in 1993, fresh from a long stint in the USA, wanting to make a career in India but uncertain about how this would work out. From that day to this, he has been my comrade in arms, sharing the tribulations and triumphs of negotiating the challenges of liberalisation, the adventures and pitfalls of going global and the sheer exhilaration of managing and growing a business that has had to change with the need of the times.
Pawan is a meticulous technocrat, and an astute businessman – but above all he is a fine human being. To me, he is the embodiment of our Core Values. Let me amplify this.
Good Corporate Citizenship, and pride in our nation is part of his DNA. Do you know that he gave up his coveted US citizenship to revert to citizenship of India? That is the extent of his faith in the nation and the Group.
As for Professionalism, Pawan is a thorough professional always open to persuasion by rationality and logic. Fostering a meritocracy at Mahindra has always been a priority for him.
His commitment to Quality Focus and Customer First is now a part of the folklore of the company. We all know the story of how, during a Blue Chip Conference, when I was showing candid videos of our automotive customers complaining about poor quality, he quietly moved from the front row back to the last and vowed to himself that he would return to the front row only when the automotive sector had redeemed itself. We have never looked back since then as far as customer centricity is concerned.
And finally, Dignity of the Individual is an article of faith with him. Pawan has always possessed a natural inclination towards fairness and transparency and has great respect for his own time and the time of others. He believes he can learn from anyone, even the most junior of colleagues.
Pawan has officially retired, but I know that our loss is going to be society's gain. Amongst the many activities he has planned, giving back to the community in some form or the other is a large part of his agenda. And although he will devote much less time to our organisation, it is a comfort to know that we will always have access to his experience and wisdom. Due to the pandemic, we will, for the present time, have to forego several customary gatherings to bid him farewell. However, as soon as circumstances allow, we will take great pleasure in convening the appropriate events to pay tribute to him.
I am tempted to wish Pawan a happy retirement, but that would not be an accurate thing to say. Those of us who know Pawan (and his habit of sending out emails at midnight) know that his work is his life and that he will never really retire. So, on behalf of us all, I wish Pawan a very happy, productive and fulfilling next chapter in his life. Wherever his destiny takes him, he will always remain a personal friend and a valued part of the Mahindra Group family.
This is also the appropriate time to welcome Dr Anish Shah as he takes over as Managing Director and CEO. I also welcome Rajesh Jejurikar, who as Executive Director, will now take over Pawan's role as Head of the Auto and Farm Sector and report to Anish. For both of them, the last year has been a sort of baptism by fire, as they faced the dual challenges of a leadership transition as well as a pandemic year.
Even in the midst of an incredibly difficult situation, Anish has brought a rational and 'fresh eyes' perspective to the business; this is particularly valuable at a time when the world as we knew it, is changing. He is crafting an organisation that is ready for that transforming world, whilst still retaining our Core Values as its roots and the Rise philosophy as its compass. I am confident that under Anish the organisation will grow and prosper and continue to combine the best of both tradition and change.
Rajesh has ensured that at a time when the entire country had practically shut down, the auto and farm businesses kept the flag flying and continued to fight the good fight. His long association with M&M and his keen strategic instincts are the secret weapons that have enabled us to emerge from the crisis stronger than before. I can think of no better person to have in the driver's seat as we negotiate the changing face of mobility.
On behalf of us all, I wish Anish and Rajesh fair winds and much success in their new avatars, as they steer our organisation into the future.
Anand G Mahindra
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