After more than two decades – 27 years – with Mahindra & Mahindra, Dr Pawan Goenka will hang up his boots as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer from April 2 this year.
From his R&D years in General Motors (GM) in Detroit, USA, where he spent 14 years, to becoming a driving force in Mahindra & Mahindra, the automotive industry has been the true-blue engineer’s passion.
Known as the ‘Father of the Scorpio’, the product that changed the course of M&M, it was Dr Goenka who played a big role in its creation and the subsequent growth of the core SUV business for the automaker.
Here are five lesser-known facts about this dynamic and affable leader, who was voted Autocar Professional's 'Man of the Year' not once but twice in 2011 and in 2007.
Ability to take big bets
Behind the success of this Mahindra car was the vision of this leader who believed in the dream of India’s own muscular SUV. “Coming from GM, where I worked on one part of the engine, to Mahindra where I had to work on the whole car, things were very different. I admit that at that time, I didn’t even know what a clutch looked like. I saw myself as an integrator and aggregator of expertise, of putting a team of young talent. My fondest memory of the first Scorpio launch was when Anand gave me an instant hug,” he recalls.
A technical wizard with a sharp mind of his own
Dr Goenka has a rare gift of crunching numbers with ease. “My skill of deciphering Excel sheets and figures is partly God’s gift and partly my Marwari genes. It also probably has to do with my mathematics education in high school,” he laughs.
Uses storytelling as a powerful tool
Dr Goenka believes that the most effective leadership lessons are often couched in good stories. According to him, a story can bring together teams. He explains, “With time, I have realised that bullet point speeches are not engaging. They are the least effective way to get your points across. So, while bullet points get lost, the storytelling approach is lasting.”
A passionate Bridge player
Not many people know about his passion for playing Bridge. “I missed playing it for 25 years and now intend to start playing all over again. This game helps you learn teamwork, scenario planning, strategy, taking risks and being conservative,” he reveals.
All work and also play
Dr Goenka, who doesn’t want a full plate right now, wants to relax and take it easy. He says, “I want to read books and watch Netflix. I hope that I get at least one-third of my time to do nothing professional but spend time with my family!”
Exclusive interview coming up in Autocar Professional’s April 1, 2021 issue