My Point of view

Deepak Khandelwal

Deepak Khandelwal is presently working as the President of Alpha TND Limited, a 40 Mn Dollar company having its headquarter in Accra (Ghana) and one of the most reputed companies in Electrical Energy in the country. Mr Khandelwal is based in Mumbai and looks after Commercial functions namely Supply Chain Management and Bid Management of the Company.

Mr Khandelwal is a Chartered Accountant and Professional Law graduate from Jaipur (Rajasthan). He also completed his Executive Program in Leadership and Management from IIM, Kolkata, and Improving Corporate Efficiency and Performance from Harvard Business School.

He started his career in 1996 in a small town Textile Mills (MSUM Limited) as Accounts Officer, and grew up the ladders of success. He was designated as President of the Company in 2005 just in a span of 9 years of working. During this journey he almost had hands on experience of each facet of Textile Business i.e. Accounts, Finance, Treasury, SCM, Yarns Marketing, Fabrics Marketing, Exports, Commercials. Thereafter he joined Emco Limited in Mumbai. It was a renowned Transformer manufacturing company. Mr Khandelwal was preferred to Head EPC Project business of the company. He initially turned around and then spearheaded Company’s Transmission Lines and Substation division.

Mr Deepak Khandelwal also served as Executive Council member of IEEMA, a leading association of Electrical Equipment Manufacturers in India.

Our Exclusive Interview:

What was your journey like to get where you are?

It would be better to be frank. I enjoyed my journey despite all ups and downs, and curves.

I started my career with a textile mill (MSUM Limited) and understood the smallest nitty gritty of the business and reached to the position of the President. Though a small company yet your being the President at the age of 28 years was a big achievement Thereafter I shifted to Mumbai. After spending initial 1-2 years in the business of establishing Thermal Power Plant and hiving it off; I got into business of EPC of Transmission Lines. A career growth took place from handling a Tower factory to CEO of Transmission Lines and Substation EPC project division of Emco.

This was the stressful time spending more energies at work without proper support;  and it finally burnt me out. Thereafter I took a much needed break and restarted my career. So today where I am now is a restart button.

How important is the organization culture to you? How do you ensure that you maintain a healthy culture in your organization?

This is very important. It is a question, I always keep close to my heart. I have worked with 3 companies in my career. I’m not a vivid reader of books based HR.

I have experienced textile mills people who were contended. It was a Bangur group company it was an old 1942 established company. The people working were contend and the culture was open and transparent. It was based in a small town. If you are doing anything hanky-panky, you get exposed very easily. Your image in that town is so big that you cannot afford to lose your respect and image, you have earned. Though your salary would be low as compared to Delhi or Mumbai. That was one culture where the things are honest, transparent, and integrity was important. Processes are well set. Its promoters used to look at just one page P&L account only. That was just the one pager MIS sent to HO on monthly basis.

Then I joined a company in Mumbai. Mumbai is altogether a different culture. I don’t say its incorrect but it’s a culture of Mumbai. The people keep changing organisation within 2-3 years. They jump over and keep moving around. So there is a check and balance available. So the processes are there in form of well written system. SOPs are maintained so that nothing untoward can happen to the company as well as nobody could take advantage or leverage of his position.

Then this is the 3rd company where my promoters are growing from scratch. The culture is same as Mumbai specially in Ghana. People work in a company for 2-3 years and return to India and change their jobs. So they keep that processes and goals. Simultaneously seniors people are associated with the company since inception as nothing adverse is going to happen to the organisation.
These are the 3 types of companies and Cultures. One in which people are associated with the company since the start of their career. My MD in first organisation was working since 1984. My VP was working since 1969 and others starting from their career were working. Then the second type in Mumbai I realised that people even in senior positions people work with the organisation for 2-3 years only. I think, I would have been one of the few people who worked with them for 10 years. Then Ghana it’s a mixed bunch where senior people are associated with the company since it inception to till date, and junior people keep on changing. As the company is growing more processes are implemented and we are the people who implement those cultures.

What is your current and ideal work/life balance?

As I told you I am not a vivid reader So I would not give an example from the book or any autobiography that I have read. I have seen my MD from first organisation who has been my Mentor -Mr Amrit Lal Maheshwari, my first trainer. He was the person who was looking after the textile mill when the company was producing 28 MT of Yarns and 20000 meters of fabric everyday with 4500 employees. He got the employee strength reduced from 4500 employees to 2700 employees. Yarn production was increased from 28 metric ton to 75 metric ton and fabric production from 20000 meters to 52000 meters. He was a perfectionist. He managed his work life balance in such a way that he knew when to come to office when to get involved in the work when to get out of office. His mind would work better than his heart. I learnt a few things from him still I could never have that kind of work life balance since I joined the corporate.

Here in Ghana I could strike a perfect work life balance. My promoter Pankajji use to support the same. As a company we have redundancy. In previous 2 organisation there was no redundancy. Here my promoters want redundancy with them as well. So every work l personally look at, also seen by the another person. If we need any off time from work it is very easy. If there are any pain areas or anything is worrying you, then you can take help from another person. It thus become easier to have a work life balance and you become more productive. I always take time off from work every quarter with family as nothing is dependent on you only, and someone else can take care of your work.

What measures do you take to control the work/life balance of your employees? What’s your biggest people problem you’re trying to solve right now?

The only thing I Can think of is you can judge your problems well. I have till now worked in a pyramid kind of structure where things use to end at me. Of course, that creates a poor work life balance. In case of pyramid structure, you don’t have your substitute created and then things are dependent on you and things get stuck if you are not available. Here it is more of a rectangular structure. I feel some people do take things for granted. As different people are of different mind-set and some part of politics does take place, but once you start handling it then it doesn’t impact your work.

Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?

In my first organisation I was not the one taking tough decisions. It was my MD who use to do it. I use to look at the soft part. I use to deal in Business Development. But in my 2nd organisation in Mumbai I had to take tough decisions like working 9am to 9pm and with no holidays and thereafter reduced the strength from 126nos to 46nos of employees. And functions and productivity increased as it was an over-staffed unit. How another market leaders are working like a Kalpataru etc. I used to visit other factories. How many people are working permanently, How many are on contract basis which then gives an idea. Then I learnt that my unit was over-staffed and then I got profitability in my Factory.

What was your most unexpected lesson in leading for growth of the company?

Ultimately family comes first that’s the best lesson. And in profession I learnt new lesson – Never trust anyone blindly, but I forget this every quarter.

If you were able to go back in time 10 years from now. What would you tell yourself about leadership that you didn’t know then?

I would certainly tell one thing that we should create our own competitor not just to compete but also to give ourselves the comfort of managing our work life balance. So I believe that we should have a Rectangular kind of structure rather than a Pyramid structure. I was a very good taskmaster, I remembered my figures really well. I couldn’t develop people, which was my weakness, but it’s never too late. Now I am taking those steps as I tell myself to be accountable in every way.

Which leader in the Corporate world do you admire and why?

Narayan Murthy – I got impressed with his simplicity and Perfection. The combination that he was possessing was rare as very few people have that communist kind of approach in business.

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