An innovative & inspiring leader, armed with insights and fortitude, Raman Sawhney carried a vision of adding value to the lives and laid the foundation of Chola Turbo Machinery International Pvt. Ltd to offer customized turbine solutions. The pioneer by leveraging his profound skills, experience, and deep domain expertise decided to venture out of his entrepreneurial journey in 2001.
Raman Sawhney, Managing Director of Chola Turbo, completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in the year 2001 and got a job in one of India’s largest automobile manufacturers. He left that job after working for a week, came down to Bangalore ( the steam turbine manufacturing hub of India), borrowed around 30,000 USD from his father, and started this company as a small proprietorship firm. The journey that was begun with one person, today has become a family-owned private limited organization with more than 600 installations 150+ employees, 4 manufacturing facilities all over India, and a presence in 36 different countries.
Producing Customized Turbine Solutions
BY BEING BETTER! Steam turbine as a capital good equipment deserves a lot of care and expertise, Unlike, some of its Indian and Chinese competitors who have opted for turbine manufacturing on a large scale with “one size fits all” approach, Chola Turbo is known in the turbine
market for offering customized solutions to customers just like the manufacturers based out of Europe and America. For the first 10 years of its existence, the company concentrated on fine-tuning its designs and continuously improving the quality and manufacturing processes. they deliberately held off their exports to western countries till they were at par with their western counterparts. Today the 63 % of their sales are exported with Europe contributing to 43%, North America 13%, and the Asia Pacific around 8%.
Company’s Future Perspective
Despite the pandemic, Chola Turbo has achieve the growth of 80% YOY last year, with the increasing demand for turbines suited to the manufacturing range (up to 30MW ) and dwindling competition in the sector it is expected that the company would grow at this steadfast pace for the next few years. The acquisition of a large steam turbine manufacturer in 2018 by CTMI and its group companies has also opened a door for the team in the large turbines (60-100MW ) sector.
The Greatest Accomplishment
Chola Turbo remains the only private Indian steam turbine manufacturer to have supplied a turbine to a Nuclear Power plant. But the proudest achievement is to have been Approached, audited, and eventually supply a steam turbine to both GE (in 2016) and to Siemens (in 2020) as per their stringent quality requirements.
From the MD’s Desk
Let me first point out that we are a “young “organization, not only in terms of years of incorporation, which at 21 years is comparatively young when compared to our more illustrious competitors but also young in demographics. Today at 41 years I am the third oldest person in my company and sometimes it’s fun to see a young team in action butting heads with middle-aged “managers” from other companies trying to win a contract. I am a big fan of delegation and often encourage my young colleagues to take independent decisions knowing they have complete backing from me and my organization.
Another thing I learned as a young business owner is the sheer exuberance of youth. If a youngster is handed over a big responsibility he would do his absolute best to get a favorable result, even if he fails the first time he has time and energy to relook into the matter and do it correctly the second time.
The Biggest Professional Mistake & Learning
Back in 2006 ( as a 26-year-old) Raman trusted a bank based on verbal assurances from the branch manager and bid for a project. Later on, the bank refused to honor their commitments, and when confronted they nonchalantly told him that he does not have anything in writing from them, this resulted in CTMI losing an order of a substantial amount. That day Raman Sawhney understood the real importance of written communication and this lesson has served him well.
Definition of Success
Raman Sawhney apprised, “The core group of people including the blue collared workmen who embarked on this crazy journey with me 20 years ago are still part of this organization. This loyalty cannot be bought! especially not in these times where engineers change jobs faster than they can update their resumes. The very fact that all of us along with our families are better off today than we were when we started, is a real success for me. Another cause of celebration for our company is the sheer number of repeat orders we get from our satisfied customers, In fact, from
2016 onwards the percentage of repeat orders from customers is a staggering 73% which is phenomenal for a capital goods/steam turbine manufacturer.”
New Ideas in the Pipeline
Raman relies on his young colleagues to come up with new ideas and for him to help these ideas be implemented. The world is changing at a fast pace and some of the changes are eventually forced upon Raman and his team. What he does stress is to not forget the old values, traditions, and
basic ethics of doing business. Another thing the innovative leader is particular about is about maintaining a workfamily balance for all the employees. In CTMI it is ensured at 5:30 PM the office is shut so that people can spend time with their loved ones. Unfortunately, the accessibility provided by smartphones today has affected that aspect of life as well.
Leadership Style & Skills
When asked about his leadership style, Raman said, “Two words I am fond of are “what’s next?” I do not believe in thinking too much about the past but what is the next step forward? I do not have lengthy meetings with my team to micromanage things, that is their job and I trust them to do
it well. What I want is for them to inform/ update/ recommend to me what to do next? I am sure if you talk to any of my colleagues you would get the same feedback.”
“Vision” in Life
For CTMI To be the first-choice name for steam turbines requirements.
Primary Characteristic of a Leader
Humility … just respect fellow human beings, irrespective of their color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The Best Advice Received Recently
“KEEP THINGS SIMPLE”