My focus over the next 12 months is to bring everything together and create a central structure that will allow me to manage a group that is geographically spread across the globe.


How has it been for you since you took over as Chairman and Head for Sona Group?

It has been a challenge from the point of view that we are geographically spread across the globe. While all our business are professionaly managed, my involvement with customers, the employees, and our bankers is essential.

What are the few things you are looking to focus on during the next 12-18 months?

My focus over the next 12 months is to bring everything together and create a central structure that will allow me to manage a group that is geographically spread across the globe. My focus is to make sure all the operations are healthy and running on their own. After this I will focus on growth and expansion.

How is the auto industry doing in general? Do you see any positive growth in the next 6-12 months?

The automotive industry is very cyclical. The passenger car business in India is dependent on new product launches and similarly an OEM benefits from good sales if it is quick in launching new products. In Europe the market is flat with very little growth; and the US market is growing. It has been a diffcult year for the automotive industry; however, we are confident things will get better [globally]. Fortunately for us we are in the passenger car space, commercial vehicles, as well as the off highway space which gives us an even hedge.

For a company that is looking at global expansion with multiple manufacturing facilities globally, does the strong buzz around the “Make in India campaign” impact strategy?

The “Make in India” campaign is a great initiatve aimed at promoting manufacturing in India to boost the economy. This however, has to be viewed as manufacturing with technology as opposed to manufacturing from a low cost base. The low cost base is not a long term solution. Only if companies invest in technology and build smart factories can we compete globally. This is something that needs to be understood when we talk of “Make in India”.

A lot of global auto companies are setting up R&D centres in India and are attracting top global talent to the country. Do you have any plans of investing in R&D in India?

We have R&D in India as well as in Germany. Our R&D organisations work well together and interact with each other frequently. Our talent pool in India is very good and we have developed products which have global patents. Our most recent development is the electric axle and we are proud to be the first Indian company to have developed an e-axle.

How do you see the industry evolving within the next 3-5 years’ time? Do you think the government is doing enough to make a significant impact on businesses like yours or something more needs to be done?

The industry is going through a paradigm shift. In 5 years, the automotive industry will be absolutely different from what it is today. Technolgy is changing rapidly and we are no different from the IT industry in terms of speed of change. Societal pressures based on climate change are demanding major changes in business models, which is going to affect the automotive industry. Clean energy, hybrid and electric vehicles will become more popular and the Government will have to support industry in terms of building an infrastructure for this change. Component manufacturers will have to adapt to the new business environment and support OEMs.

From a global perspective, how is Sona group doing? How has the volatility of the global markets impacted exports?

We have manufacturing units in India, Germnay, and the US. The European market is growing very slowly, while India and the US are growing faster. Our exports are not very significant, however they are growing.

From an ease of doing business perspective, how different is the Indian market from other markets you have presence in?

We are a global company based in India and are accustomed to doing business in India. The labour laws in Germany are very strict and from that perspective, it is easier doing business in India. The US has different laws and some are easier to work with while others may be harder to work with. For example, in the US, the legal system is very strictly followed. India is becoming friendlier.

What has been your single biggest challenge at work till date? You have multiple tie-ups with different companies globally; how difficult is it to manage the various stakeholders?

Our single biggest challenge is talent and we are constantly working towards it.

We have two (joint venture) partners in our businesses and we share a good relationship with both. All our businesses are run professionally and our stakeholders are well looked after. We have good corporate governance practices.

You recently invested in a start-up, Findyahaan.com; an online services marketplace. Are you looking to invest in other ventures as well? What do you look for when you invest in business ventures?

When it comes to start ups, I invest in the founder and her/his team. Most start ups have low barriers to entry so they are easy to replicate and competition is strong. If I believe in the founder, I make an investment as I would want to give the Indian entrepreneur an opportuniuty.

How does a company like yours take care of their talent requirements? What are the things that you look for when hiring for key leadership positions?

Talent is a challenge globally. Training is important and creating the right environment is essential. When hiring for key leadership roles I look at character and the ability to execute.

On an informal note, how does your average day look like? What keeps you occupied when you are not at work?

I spend my time between monitoring the current operations and preparing ourselves for the future. A good CEO should spend 60% outside the business looking for the next big thing. This is hard to do though. My work days are packed with meetings and I spend a lot of time with my teams. I love the people I work with and I love what I do. I am also very concious of my health and spend time on making sure I follow a regimented work out and good eating habits.

You are a probably the most visible face of polo in India. Where are we as a country as far as Polo is concerned? What do you think needs to be done to promote the sport in India?

For polo to succeed in India we need a lot of help with infrastructure. Polo needs large grounds and horses. Young players often cannot afford the horses, and local clubs need to provide horses for players. Private set ups will need to be created to encourage the growth of polo in India. If you look at Thailand where polo is fairly new, they have a world class set up, and it’s all managed and run privately. We cannot solely rely on the Army to promote polo in India.

Mr. Sunjay KapurMr. Sunjay Kapur is the Chairman of Sona Koyo Steering Systems Ltd., the flagship company of the USD 900 million Sona Group.
Sona Koyo Steering Systems Ltd. is primarily in the automotive component manufacturing business, the company has a technical collaboration with JTEKT, Japan. It is the largest manufacturer of automotive steering systems and driveline components for the passenger car market in India and off highway vehicles in the USA. It is also a technology leader in the electronic steering systems business, and is a public limited company, listed on the National Stock Exchange in India.
The Sona Group has 18 manufacturing plants: 14 in India, 3 in Germany and 1 in the Unites States of America. The Sona Group is not only recognized for quality and business excellence (Deming Quality Award in 2003 for Sona Koyo Steering Systems ltd), it is also one of the few Indian companies, which can boast of successful Global Partnerships, most of them, continuing through decades of association. The Sona Group is also the largest manufacturer of precision forged gears in the world (Sona BLW Precision Forgings Limited and Sona BLW Praezisionsschmiede GMBH).
Sunjay did his schooling from Doon School, India. He was the House Captain of Hyderabad House and represented The Doon School in Swimming, Water Polo, Tennis, and Field Hockey, following which he attended the Williston Northampton School, Easthampton in MA, USA. Sunjay graduated with a BBA from The University of Buckingham, UK.
He has also done a programme on “Growth in the Family Enterprise”, at the Indian School of Business and The University of Pennsylvania (Wharton). In addition to this, he was in the class of 2006 of “The Birthing of Giants” at MIT, USA (a 3 year programme done by YEO, MIT, and Inc. Magazine). Sunjay also successfully completed the Owner President Management program at the Harvard Business School in February 2013. He is part of the Harvard Business School Alumni. Sunjay is a member of the executive committee of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). He is also the Chairman of the Sustainable Technology Development Committee (with a focus on creating a viable environment for green vehicles in India) for ACMA. Sunjay is also a member of the Northern Region Council of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
Apart from his business interests, Sunjay has always been passionate about encouraging entrepreneurs in the country. It was in the pursuit of this cause that led him to achieve success in being elected as the Global Chairman of The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO – formerly known as YEO) 2007-2008: total sales of members worldwide is more than $102 Billion with 10,000 members employing 800,000 people.He was the first (and so far only) person from India to hold this prestigious position.
To further his zest for fostering an entrepreneurship culture, he has partnered with CNBC to create a unique reality show called Masterpreneur India. This program, aired on CNBC Awaaz, is a path-breaking initiative in identifying, recognizing and grooming strong, young organizations. These companies, it is hoped, will someday turn out to be successful and world class organizations, and create immense social and economic value-by generating new employment, delivering high quality products and services to discerning customers and managing business operations effectively and profitably.
Sunjay is also an avid sportsman and his passion for Polo started sometime in mid-2000. Not only has he contributed tremendously in a personal capacity by owning and playing for the Sona Polo Team, he has played a very critical role in taking an ancient game restricted to Royalty & Army to the corporate sector which has helped the revival of the game in India.
Sunjay is presently passionately engaged in developing a leadership pipeline within the organization, building an eco system that encourages small entrepreneurs in India to grow, and the expansion of the Sona group into new business areas.
EA research