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7 Questions on Leadership with Rajiv Wahi

Name: Rajiv Wahi

Title: International Business Head - Agri & Construction Div

Organisation: Escorts Kubota Limited - India

Rajiv is a visionary global business leader with an entrepreneurial mindset and experienced in taking brands global. Explored and established business across 6 continents with his cross cultural, global, and multi-dimensional understanding. Created winning strategies and product offerings in sync with the market. Started and scaled up international business for leading organizations. Strategic and creative thinker, with bias for action; takes ownership; high on integrity; empathy: humility; building teams: strong people management with trust and transparency.

→ Brings on board unique experience and insights gained in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic markets and assimilation of cultural sensitivity and work ecosystems that have led to efficiencies in Corporate General Management, Channel Development, and delivery of strategic organizational mandates across the Auto, Agri and Construction Eqpt Sectors

→ CEO Experience: Brings on board 10+ years of experience as CEO for International Business across Sonalika Group & Escorts Kubota Ltd. resulting in robust acquisition of markets, identifying expansion opportunities, top line, bottom line delivery and driving long term strategic organization growth.

Portfolio of Products/Brands handled over the 30+ years.

→ Products – Automobiles, Tractors, Farm Implements, Construction Equipment, EV’s, Trading, Hospitality (Food).

→ Brands – Toyota, Daewoo, Sonalika &Solis, DCM, AMC-South Africa, Volvo, Escorts Kubota –Farmtrac / Powertrac

Markets / Countries handled –over 85

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Rajiv's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging part is to align the management expectations and goals with the team and deliver on the same consistently. Building a company culture where team is motivated and works in a positive environment with 100 percent commitment is important.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

When I look back on my career, the time that pulled as a leader was when, I was shortlisted by DCM Group management and deputed to South Africa in 1994 to open DCM Group office in Johannesburg from a scratch. I was moved from Manager - Exports role at DCM Daewoo Motor Ltd to role of Regional Director of DCM Overseas BVI Ltd. In this role I had to immediately start preparing and work like a leader and entrepreneur. I set up a new office, recruited the team, prospected for new business opportunities in an alien land and be responsible for all total running of the office as jobs depended on me along with P&L of the company. In 5 years of my stay in South Africa, I set up many new businesses for the group in areas of automobile, bus body building, clothing, toys and projects. It was a big learning experience and developed my leadership skills by leaps and bounds.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Well, I start my day with a short meditation and prayer session, followed by daily routine of exercise and stretching. After that follows routine of getting ready and leave for work after having fresh breakfast lovingly prepared by my wife. Before that I make sure to take out some time to talk to my wife and exchange morning greetings with my parents and kids on whatsup.

While being driven to office, I utilize the time to read the newspaper and respond to urgent mails and whatsup messages.

On reaching office, I like to spend first hour to clear my table of mails and urgent communication and then go ahead with meetings and VC set scheduled for the day.

I like to spend 10-15 minutes each day with one of my team member discussing their role in detail with them along with any challenges and improvements. It also helps me to connect with them at a personal level.

Before I leave office I like to clear my daily mail and set up calendar for next day and week ahead.

Evening time is to spend with the family, go for 30 minutes walk and catch up with the family before and over dinner. Before going to bed, catch up on some daily news and read few pages of a book. Do a small prayer of thankfulness for a day well spent and hit the bed.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The most recent leadership lesson I have learned is that no one is indispensable in a company. One should not be over dependent on any individual and have systems to take over. There should be a trained and motivated team where delegation and sharing knowledge is encouraged so that new leaders are developed on regular base. As a leader one should be confident of your own abilities and encourage building a team and leaders under you. Tats the true test of a leader, how many leaders we develop under and around us. Your presence in the role should make a difference and stand out in your absence.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"How to make friends and influence people "by Dale Carnegie. though an old book, which is fairly popular, I find it still very relevant and tells us very basic points on building relationships and bond with known and unknown people. Ultimately your network and relationship with people based on trust and confidence is what counts and influences your business and well as personal relationships.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

While adopting the new technology like AI, ChatGpt etc., don't forget the basics of developing the importance of human touch. People still remain the most important difference in our business. We do business for people, so continue developing the human connect. Remain professional in your dealings, value time. Respect people and have empathy.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Here again I repeat my story of South Africa tenure. I was picked up from a Manager level role to a Regional Director role for a new company with full empowerment and responsibility. The management entrusted me with such a role based on my past performance. It felt like the sincerety and work ethics have been rewarded and I felt responsible to deliver on the role. Even though within a month of landing in South Africa, I was hot at while driving in a car on work, with gods grace we were not harmed and it did not demoralize me. In fact, it made me more determined to succeed and take adequate precautions on safety for me and my family. My 5 years tenure in South Africa was rewarding in developing me as a leader and building confidence along lots of life long friends and relations.

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