“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon, a renowned music composer, scholar and social activist.
That’s the spirit a person must possess in order to dream something big and achieve something bigger. Challenges are the parts and parcels of our life which takes us forward towards success. Accomplishment of each challenge takes us a step closer to our dreamt destiny. Taking up any challenge and winning over that is definitely not easy and as wise and successful people say, success never comes without pain, hard work, dedication, and sincerity.
Meet Rakesh Gupta, Group CFO at Apollo International Limited. He is a figure of inspiration himself and his life is no less than an interesting story. Facing newer challenges in a continuously changing business environment is what keeps Rakesh motivated. It definitely sounds different but it is highly inspiring.
There had always been challenges thrown by regulatory, technology, business environment and competitors which had been disrupting the market in many ways. Overcoming those challenges with sheer dedication and enthusiasm and making the company resilient towards such hurdles has been the biggest motivational factors of Rakesh’s life.
Besides everything else, Rakesh speaks about Apollo’s MD Raaja Kanwar, whom he considers to be his role model. He further expresses, ‘Our MD Mr. Raaja Kanwar is my role model, who inspires and motivates me to overcome the business challenges by the principle of “Keeping things Simple.”
The Journey from the Initial Stint to Career Milestones
Rakesh experienced his initial stint of the professional life at Modi Rubber Ltd. Soon after getting the essence of the professional world, he joined Apollo Group as Finance Controller and Company Secretary in the year 1994. Gradually through ambition, continuous dedication, hardwork, and perseverance, Rakesh got elevated to the level of Group CFO in the year 2009. Since then, he started taking responsible actions for various functions including Finance, Banking, Accounts, Compliance, Secretarial, Mergers & Acquisitions, Investments, Taxation, Legal, and Commercial besides direct involvement in business and strategy. Due to his performance and contribution on business side beyond his normal functional duties, he was also awarded with “All Round Performance Award” during his early years in the company.
While talking about the most memorable moments of life, Rakesh shares some of his life’s happenings and says, “Over and above the professional achievements and faith bestowed by Kanwar family (Apollo Group Promoters) during my association with Apollo Group, one moment that has been close to my heart is the nomination of my Short Film “Raaya” which was exhibited at the 71st Cannes Festival in May 2018 and got the ‘Special Festival Mention Award’ at Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2018. I produced the said film to spread a social message of not losing hope, even in extreme adverse circumstances and the same message also applies to our day to day corporate life. The success of this movie inspired me and my promoters to do more such films on a commercial scale.”
Innovating Ideas, Changing Situations and Taking Business towards Success
“I strongly believe that Change is the most prominent characteristic of an organization and it should always be ready to adapt with new/innovative ways of achieving the company’s objectives. I keep myself abreast with the latest technological, AI and other changes happening globally and has been working on utilization of such technology towards advancement of the company and people,” says Rakesh.
With these motives in mind, Rakesh is exploring and working on a new concept of Blockchain project wherein ITO (Initial Token Offerings) is planned for issuing Digital Tokens of the business/assets of the company which will be listed on Delaware (US) Stock exchange. It is expected that it will unlock numerous values and increase the company’s global presence without diluting the control and voting rights of the promoters. He has also coined the concept of “Unlocking the Power of Mind” for identifying the endless opportunities available around an individual for creative thinking and multi-tasking. He has also brought the collaborative effort by bringing business partners in various business verticals, to enhance the growth of the business in an exponential manner. It has helped the business divisions and company to break the pattern of an existing level of growth.
Rakesh has further initiated the process of designing the training and development program for motivating the employees of various functions to think out-of-the-box and come out of their tunnel vision. Ultimately, this program will help many employees to fight monotonies linked to their regular job. Another side of Rakesh displays the characteristics of that of a fitness guy, who advocates for good health for the employees.
A Leader by Deeds, Passion and Dedication
Rakesh’s leadership has led to the creation of Profit Centres in various business verticals of Apollo International Limited. He introduced the concept of converting various support functions like Human Resource, Accounting, and Banking and others Cost Centres into Profit Centres. He has even successfully implemented an innovative way of forward planning through the concept of “Run Rate” to bring the Sportsman Spirit in business and improve the process of effective decision making.
With a passion to do things differently, he is also playing a pivotal role in implementing good business practices in the company, starting from conducting the Voluntary Secretarial Audits and also leading the voluntary implementation of Ind Accounting Standard for Apollo International Limited for better presentation of Accounts. While working on the improvement of overall profitability of the business by reduction of input cost, Rakesh managed to substantially reduce the input cost for the product and created a milestone for the company.
About the Company Adapting and Being the Change
Incepted in the year 1994 as a part of Apollo Group, Apollo International Limited is a public limited company owned and controlled by Mr. Raaja Kanwar, son of Mr. O S Kanwar, who heads the flagship Apollo Tyre Group. The company’s history spans two decades of visionary thinking, robust planning, effective implementation and closing the loop with continuous improvement. The verticals of Apollo International Group now include Integrated Logistics, Distribution and Marketing of Tyres, International Business of Products, Equipments and Projects and Leather Garments, Shoes and Accessories.
A Leader’s Advice for the Rising Stars
I would advise to budding entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and take calculated risk, while starting a new story. They should develop the right skill of identifying good people and invest in them to make their business grow. They should remember hurdles will be coming their way at various stages which need to be taken up as a small challenge for the big story they would want to write.