Anish Shah, Group CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Group, says other than M&M Group CFO Manoj Bhat taking over as Mahindra Holidays, there have been other rejigs also within the organisation. The CFO from Mahindra Lifespaces has moved to the CFO role in Mahindra Holidays. Avinash Bapat, our CFO from Susten, which is our solar business moves to be CFO of Mahindra Lifespaces and we have a very strong internal leader identified who we will announce shortly as a CFO for Susten. So, there have been other moves as well from a talent standpoint and this again is in line with our philosophy on attracting, grooming the best talent.

Typically from a market standpoint, news which hits the exchanges, the CFO of M&M has moved on. Now that is something which will get everybody thinking. Let us understand the thought behind it. What is the internal thought behind it?
Anish Shah: The thought behind it is really grooming all our leaders for bigger roles, for bigger careers. It is something that we have been doing for a while. We accelerated that three years ago. We put in place some marquee talent development programs. One is Future Shapers. The second is the Mahindra Accelerated Leadership Track. And more important than that, we have been planning careers for folks to give them broader responsibilities, to give them bigger things to do.A number of our finance talent had a question of, can CFOs run businesses? And our answer has been yes. If you are very good at what you do, you can have a career that you would like. In that context, we have appointed a group CFO as CEO of Mahindra Holidays, a business which has tremendous potential, one that we are planning to grow 5X over the next five to seven years, possibly even faster and it is therefore a very exciting role. It allows for another very strong leader to come in as group CFO. In addition to these changes, we also have moved another three or four leaders internally into bigger roles. And that is part of a leadership development process.

The fact is Manoj will now be the CEO of Mahindra Holidays; it is the CFO who has moved to a CEO role. And that rarely happens, right?
Anish Shah: We feel that if you have done well in what you do, then you deserve to have a career path that is based on your aspirations. And that is something that we have seen in a number of leaders who have done well, excelled in things that they have done and they have gone on to do even bigger and better things outside the comfort zone. Therefore, if we want a strong talent bench, we have got to take people outside the comfort zones, and be able to do more. In Manoj’s case, he is a seasoned leader. He has helped drive a lot of growth at Tech Mahindra in the past.

At the group CFO level, he has helped stabilize a number of things that we had to stabilize over the last three years and has put the group in a fantastic shape. And it is a great pride for us to be able to see him go on and take on a role as CEO of Mahindra Holidays, where we have got to take that business to a very fast growth trajectory. Again, a lot of good work has been done in that business by Kavinder. So I would give him a lot of credit for that. He has put that business on a solid growth path, has built a very strong team. And therefore, it is one that is really poised for significant growth. I think Manoj is a great leader who can take that and make that happen.

When you took over as CEO of Mahindra & Mahindra, you started changing the capital architecture of the company. You started revisiting group level companies and you started making changes, both in terms of personnel and with capital allocation. So can I say that Mahindra Holidays, even though it is a solid, strong brand, the fact that Manoj is now going to be taking over as CEO means that this company has got a different plan in terms of growth avatar. Suddenly this is a business which will occupy a centrestage for the Mahindra Group?
Anish Shah: Yes, that is exactly right. That is the reason why we have one of our senior most leaders going there because it is a business that has tremendous potential. The demand is very, very strong. We have demonstrated the ability to deliver wonderful vacations and all our members give us very good feedback. That is something that we really want to take and grow. So it is a function of taking our leaders and putting them in positions where they can make an even bigger impact. And this is what we expect Manoj to do.

In line with what the broader thought of the prime minister is, that focus on tourism could add a multiplier to the GDP. Is that an indirect commitment coming from the Mahindra Group as well on those lines?
Anish Shah: It is a very direct commitment. We plan to grow our resorts at least 3X. We would likely grow them even faster. And it is an area that we are very bullish on. Tourism in India is going to grow dramatically. Supply is not very strong today. And this is a business that is very well positioned to take advantage of this trend and to be able to build on the very strong foundation that we have in this business. So yes, it is a very direct commitment.

Mr Amarjyoti Barua, what experience does he bring on board? And is there anything which he would do differently as CFO that Manoj did not do?
Anish Shah: So Amar is one of the strongest finance leaders I have seen. He comes with a very strong background in finance and a very strong international experience as well. And he is one that will continue to take forward everything that Manoj has put in place with regard to capital allocation and that discipline will continue to stay but also play a key role in driving exponential growth for the group because having built a strong foundation, we are now looking at exponential growth in multiple areas. And the CFO is obviously a key part of that. And that’s what Amar will bring to this role.

Have to ask you a question on budget, something which we missed getting from you. Should I ask you a question in the FICCI capacity or the M&M capacity?
Anish Shah: You can ask in the FICCI capacity, but before we close M&M, I would just like to add that for us, we want to make M&M the place that is the best place for talent. We have been able to attract wonderful talent over the last many years from all the top companies around the world and the grooming process, we have the development process, we have the taking bets on people, putting them in roles that are great roles for them, career pathing that we have done so far, I think we will make M&M the place for talent as we go forward.So, the message from Mahindra Group on the change of CFO is that this is an internal rejig. It is in sync with talent reorientation. This is a planned exit and there is nothing forceful about it. Am I right?
Anish Shah: That is exactly right and the set of moves that we did not talk about so far are also that our CFO from Lifespaces moves to the CFO role in Holidays. Our CFO from Susten, which is our solar business, which again has done extremely well and we launched India’s largest renewables InvITs with Avinash’s leadership, so Avinash moves to CFO of Lifespaces and we have a very strong internal leader identified who we will announce shortly as a CFO for Susten. So, there are other moves as well we have from a talent standpoint and this again is in line with our philosophy on attracting, grooming the best talent.

Some of your group companies have seen external changes as well. For example, in Tech Mahindra, an external change has happened. Is there any internal recalibration, that there are going to be some external changes which could happen, which is work on progress or the current top team is going to pretty much remain status quo in terms of your top companies?
Anish Shah: We have made all the main changes that are required and our focus right now is on grooming and developing talent we have internally. So, over the next few years, as senior roles open up or as businesses expand and we get into a much bigger footprint, we have all the talent that we need internally. We have hired some very strong people at various levels in the organisation over the past few years and our goal is to reduce external hiring as much as we can and groom internal leaders to be able to take roles across the organisation.

Now on the budget. If one looks at historical votes on accounts, they have been dominated by one word, which is compulsions of elections and populism, that was missing yesterday. As a member of the press, I am accustomed to ask questions about why there was so much of populist bent. This time, we are trying to understand why there is no populism bent?
Anish Shah: That to me is really the beauty of this budget because it is one that focuses on economics and not on politics and that is consistent with what we have seen in the last few budgets as well and which is why I would give very strong marks to the government in terms of driving economics, the growth in capex, the focus on inclusive growth, the focus on green in terms of climate change. All of these are things required for the country long-term. This is a budget that is really looking at the long-term for India to make sure India becomes a global leader in line with the Viksit Bharat goals that the prime minister has outlined.

So, all in all, you are absolutely right that it does not have the sops that one would expect in an election year and that to me is the biggest positive that comes out of the budget. It is a very strong long-term growth-focussed budget.

Government is looking to reduce capex largely because of base effects. It is also an indication that private sector capex is now looking strong. Three years ago, that was the missing link. Can one confidently say that if the government reduces its commitment towards expenditure, the private sector is going to take care of it and there will be no effect on the economy per se?

Anish Shah: Over the longer term, 11% growth in capex is still a very strong growth. Yes, we have seen a couple of years where it was even higher than that, but that was required for the economy at that point in time and it is up to the private sector now because the private sector has to step up. The economy is doing well. There is a strong demand. Capacity utilisation has been increasing across multiple industries and the balance sheets of various companies are fairly strong. So, the private sector will step up because we are seeing that growth.

Manufacturing in India will grow 16 times if we have to meet the goals of Viksit Bharat, which I am confident we will and for that to happen, a lot more investment will come in. So, I think this is a very good balance and again, 11% is a very good place to be from a capex growth standpoint, but the government cannot do all. The private sector has to step up and do its share.

The rural economy has not recovered and that is a concern. While 20% of Indians account for 80% of consumption, 80% will still account for 20% of the consumption, that is how the pyramid of India is. For that 80% which accounts for 20%, do you think something should have been done in terms of an indirect, not subsidy, but indirect schemes or indirect sop?
Anish Shah: If I start with looking at the tractor industry, which is a barometer of rural India, if we look at it for the last three years, the tractor industry has actually grown extremely well. It grew 27% in the first year after COVID and this year, it will be flat to negative 5%. But for us, a particular quarter or a particular year is not something you could just focus on and draw conclusions from. You have got to look at a slightly longer-term period. So, we do not believe that farms are hurting or rural India is hurting. We feel it is in a solid shape. It has had a year with low rainfall where some crops had not come out very well. The rabi crop is coming up very well based on all the indications we see and despite a fairly tough year, rural India was fairly resilient. So, we are not looking at it as something is wrong there or something is off. We feel it is resilient. We feel that it will continue to grow well.

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