You have worked in almost all regions of the world. How is business and management different in India compared to the West?
Traditionally, India has been a society where organisational roles are very rigidly defined and this has a detrimental impact on the culture of innovation. Fortunately however, this style of management is losing ground and Indian companies are adopting a more inclusive approach. Fewer layers in the management hierarchy help reduce costs, and also ensure that good ideas don’t get lost in its ascent to the top.
How did you revamp ABB from a loss making unit to a profit making?
My work at ABB was heavily focused on simplification and common global processes by tearing down the “silos” which fragmented the group’s businesses. As head of ABB’s automation business, I transformed eleven different business units across the company’s global operations into just three “lean and mean” divisions.
What are your concerns as a CEO, in the light of the nearing global economic slowdown?
In both good times and bad, I believe a CEO’s biggest challenge is attracting and motivating great leaders and innovators. My job is to make sure that Harman can compete in any economic environment. We will continue to carefully watch our costs and simplify our structure, but the real key will be continued cutting-edge innovation that differentiates Harman from its competitors and keeps customers coming back for more.
What is your strategy for Harman's future and how do you plan to take it to its pinnacle?
Our strategy is built on four main pillars: First, we will grow sales of our “smart” infotainment systems which are increasingly helping today’s “connected generation” take their favourite media, entertainment and information on the road. Secondly, we will increase penetration of our automotive audio systems – built on great brands such as JBL, Harman/Kardon and Infinity – to help customers enjoy the same premium sound in the car that they have long admired at home. Third, we will continue to increase our activities in the emerging markets – targeting some $1.5 Billion in BRIC country sales by 2015, compared to just a
few tens of millions when I joined Harman. Finally, we will continue to focus on cost and capital management.