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Infrastructure Today Person of the Year 2010

Infrastructure Today Person of the Year 2010

Indigenous Genius

Mr Anil Manibhai Naik, 65, started out as a teacher’s son in a south Gujarat village. Today, he is the captain of a huge ship with 38,000 employees on board. It has been his job to not just steady the Larsen and Toubro (L&T) ship through smooth and rough waters. Mr Naik has not just negotiated the ship: he has driven it: pushing the limits from 8 per cent operating margin only five years back to 13 per cent now, the highest margin in the engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) industry worldwide.

This award comes for a career studded with examples of how Mr Naik catapulted L&T to a position of leadership in the construction and infra-manufacturing segments, that too, in a sustainable and socially responsible way. We realise the challenge of having a 20:20 vision to foresee industry requirements in a country where much of the activity is uncertain, and believe that Mr Naik’s career so far has been worthy of much-needed inspiration to many leaders in our country’s infrascape.

But our jury’s vote was based on factors beyond the confines of an organisation, and encompassing the broader economic picture. Till 1999, L&T’s exports were largely to the Middle East. The international thrust has seen major breakthroughs into the markets of the developed nations such as the US, Canada, UK, Norway, South Africa, China and Australia. By continuing to capture several overseas markets with confidence and success, L&T has brought home a new pride, the kind of which is helping India forge ahead in world perception and trade. It is this new global perspective that is building the new India.

As he prepares to retire next year from L&T, it is easy to forget that L&T wasn’t Mr Naik’s first workplace. He spoke recently about the struggle and perseverance that was needed to join what, at that time, was his dream job. He joined L&T as a Junior Engineer in 1965, and was rapidly given positions of increasing responsibility. By the time he was 25, he was responsible for 800 people reporting to him, but not without a big slowdown in his climb up the ladder for more than a decade. Eventually, Mr Naik was appointed Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of L&T in April 1999. In December 2003, he was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of L&T.

Mr AM Naik restructured the company into sharply focused operating divisions, and led a transformation focused on enhancing shareholder value. His emphasis on HR and IT as the twin engines of growth has yielded significant results. He was responsible for the extensive use of IT as a major enabler across all L&T’s businesses. Today, businesses in L&T use videoconferencing to communicate en masse—a rarity in India and certainly in the infrastructure and construction industries. The latest move from Mr Naik’s boardroom is splitting L&T into nine companies.

L&T is also known for its high-value human capital, and Mr Naik has been instrumental in guiding the company into recognising the need to respect and reward intellectual capital. The organisation, under his leadership, has taken major initiatives to attract, retain and groom talent.

Earlier, as Vice President, Mr Naik initiated the process of indigenising manufacture of critical equipment for process industries. This enabled L&T achieve major successes in the indigenisation of critical technology in the defence and nuclear sectors. L&T is now closely associated with the nation’s defence establishment in the development of weapon and missile systems.

Mr Naik is the Chairman & President of Kharel Education Society in Gujarat. He is also associated with several educational and charitable trusts to uplift the weaker sections of Indian society. He is also the Honorary Consul General for Denmark in Mumbai.

Our jury:

Mr S.K. Goel, CMD, IIFCL
Dr S.S. Kohli, Former CMD, IIFCL
Mr Srivatsa Krishna, IAS
Mr Rohit Modi, Dy. MD, Gammon India
Mr Alok Shekhar, IAS, Director, Ministry of Civil Aviation
Mr Sanjay Ubale, MD & CEO, Tata Realty & Infrastructure

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