From Apple to Samsung, Indian talent gains in stature in electronics industry

KOLKATA/AHMEDABAD: Indian professionals are growing in stature for their global leadership quality, and the latest industry chasing them seems consumer electronics, a segment dominated by the Japanese, Koreans and Americans. FromPranav Mistry, who helped Samsung deliver a smart watch ahead of rival Apple, to Murali Sivaraman, who led Philips’ acquisitions in India and China, many Indians are taking their place in the headquarters of electronics multinationals.

Even a conservative Japanese company like Panasonic has started training Indian managers to take up leadership roles in the Middle East and 
Africa, according to its India president Daizo Ito. Call it the growing importance of India for these companies — for instance, India is the fourth largest market for Sony — or the maturity of Indian talent, the country is emerging as a recruitment hub for the electronics industry, though the pace is not as fast as in the FMCG industry where tens of Indians don global hats.

ET profiles four Indians who have risen to key roles in electronics MNCs.

Pranav Mistry Director of Research, Samsung Electronics

Pranav Mistry’s Gujarati-laced English may have gone viral in 
YouTube, but his Galaxy Gear smart watch launched last month has won rave reviews and is doing good business for the Korean fi rm. “New wearable technologies, be it Samsung Galaxy Gear or Google Glass, would make the world an exciting place,” says Mistry, 32, who hails from the small town of Palanpur in Gujarat.

A computer scientist with master in media arts and sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and master of design from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay, Mistry now heads Samsung Think Tank Team. He has also worked with Microsoft, Google and NASA. Today he works on augmented reality, display technologies, futuristic television, mobiles, and robotics for Samsung.

Mistry tells ET he is looking for an evolution that exists beyond the digital world. “The idea is not about creating computing device. It is about connecting with the physical world,” he says. “I want to work on impactful projects. My projects could be on food or poverty (eradication through technology).”

Rajeev Chopra (from December) Global business head (consumer luminaries), Philips

Come December, 
Rajeev Chopra, MD of Philips India, will go to Brussels to take over as the global chief of the Dutch fi rm’s consumer luminaire business. An engineering graduate from IIT with an MBA from Tulane University

 at US, Chopra has transformed a rather unglamorous lighting products into a fashionable one in India, with Philips setting up more than 85 Light Lounges under a franchisee model for retailing of LED and fashionable light fixtures.

Chopra believes India has emerged a ripe ground for global postings in the consumer electronics business. “Working in a market like India gives us the advantage of getting to know, learn, strategise and adapt for all kinds of economies — mature, growth and emerging,” he says. Chopra, however, has a big challenge ahead — the fi rm’s consumer luminaire business reported a low single-digit decline in sales last quarter with demand down in matured markets.

Murali Sivaraman Global CEO, Domestic Appliances Business, Koninklijke Philips NV

One of the fi rst Indians to become global CEO in the consumer electronics business, Murali Sivaraman has been handling the largest consumer lifestyle business by sales of the Dutch major for over two years. He is based in Shanghai. A 
chartered accountantand an MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad and an AMP from Harvard Business School, Sivaraman has led development of Philips’ newer appliances like a biryani maker, soup maker, noodle and pasta maker, and its acquisitions in India and China.

Sivaraman had earlier built ICI’s paint business in China as its MD after which was promoted as the president of Canada operations. Before taking up a global role in Philips, Sivaraman was MD and CEO of its India operations, turning around the brand as a youthful one. Today, India ranks among the top fi ve markets for Philips’ domestic appliances business. Sivaraman plans to convert the nation as a product development hub. “The aspiration and need for better living cuts across markets. It is here Philips wants to create its niche,” he says. His next target: grow the Philips brand in Japan and the US.

Dipesh Shah Global VP (R&D), 
Samsung Electronics

Here is yet another Gujarati key to Samsung’s success story as the world’s largest consumer electronics maker. 
Dipesh Shah
 is the man behind the user-friendly interface of Samsung’s smartphones. An engineer with Samsung’s R&D team in India, Shah took up a global role in the organisation recently. He leads the charge for newer telecom projects like 4G, multimedia applications and web browsers.

The alumnus of Visvesvaraya Technological University and IIM-Bangalore today shuffl es between US, Korea and Bangalore on his projects. Shah is confi dent Indian engineers would move up in the consumer electronics fi eld due to inherent strengths. “Indians can adapt to the needs of the consumers and deliver more with less computing resources, which are critical assets,” he says. Shah is involved in globalisation of Indian technical talent at Samsung, ensuring Indian engineers work with the global team.