Success does not come easy, but takes grit and determination. After toiling hard for nearly 44 years, Anil Bali, vice president, Deki Electronics Ltd, has made significant contributions to the industry he chose to work in. In a candid conversation with Potshangbam July, he shares his thoughts on a range of subjects, as well as on his key accomplishments in life.
I was born in Delhi on January 4, 1952. Since my father was in the Indian Navy, we would shuttle between Delhi and Mumbai. This went on till 1960, when he was promoted to director of armaments supply at Naval HQ, New Delhi, after which we remained in the city. I did my early schooling in Campion School, Mumbai and then in Frank Anthony Public School, New Delhi. I was the topper at my school when I wrote the Indian School Certificate exam conducted along with the University of Cambridge in December 1967. I secured a First Class with distinction in mathematics, physics and chemistry. After that I joined IIT Delhi in 1968 and passed out in 1973 with a B. Tech in chemical engineering. I have an elder sister.
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Favourite music: Old songs of Elvis and the Beatles, as well as Bollywood legends like Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
Favourite book: All of John Grisham’s titles. Now I am onto Amish Tripathi
Favourite sports: Cricket, tennis and squash
Favourite holiday destination: Anywhere with the family. Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Khandala, Shimla and Mussoorie are some of the places that I had a good time with my family.
Favourite quote: “All’s well that ends well,” the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays
My professional journey
After passing out of IIT, I worked for some time in United Carbon India Ltd, Thane. After that, I joined Philips India at its Pune components plant in 1974. I worked in Philips till 1998 at various functions. I started as the production-in-charge of the ceramic capacitor unit. At that time, we used to make tubular ceramic capacitors. After that, I was sent to Hong Kong to get trained on the disc capacitor line. After three weeks’ training, we installed a disc capacitor line in Pune. A few years later, I was shifted to the film capacitors manufacturing unit to begin with, and then given the responsibility of the production of electrolytic capacitors too. After some time, maintenance and marketing were also added as my responsibilities. I left Philips in 1998 when I was senior manager marketing for wound components. I joined Deki Electronics Ltd, Noida as the GM in 1998 and am still working here, now as the vice president.
A life changing experience
There were many life changing experiences but one instance stands out. When I joined Philips India in 1974, I was taken to meet my boss. After welcoming me, he told me that since I had joined the ceramic capacitor department, I was to be totally responsible for its operations, entirely on my own and was not to expect any support from him! It was like being thrown in the deep end of a pool. Either I had to learn to swim to the other end or drown. This responsibility goaded me to think and work like an entrepreneur from that early age.
When I joined Deki Electronics Ltd in 1998, it was a company with a turnover of less than ₹ 50 million. But I had decided that together with my team we would make it India’s largest film capacitor company, and when we achieved a turnover of ₹ 1 billion in 2015-16, it was an exhilarating feeling.
Secret mantra for success
I believe that to achieve success in any endeavour, one has to lead from the front by setting an example. You have to take your team members along with you. Once they have the confidence in your abilities and your leadership, success is assured. I always gave the credit for the successes to my team and took the rap for any failures. This motivated ‘the team even more.
Qualities that define good leadership
A good leader is one who walks the talk, and for whom the team will go out of its way to reach the goal. Whatever success I have achieved in life is due to my team members, who have really made the impossible possible.
The leader I look up to for inspiration
At various stages of my life, I have had different idols who have inspired me. My father was my first idol when I was in school. He instilled in me the love for books. Since he used to read a lot, he would take me along with him to the Defence Services Club where we would first head for the library. After picking up our books we would proceed to the squash courts, followed by a dip in the swimming pool. All this helped me to become an all-rounder in school and college. When I was in the fifth semester at IIT, I was made the captain of the cricket team and also became a member of the squash team. We participated in many inter-university and national level championships. My father also taught me that to succeed in life, you have to work hard and never compromise on your principles.
Lessons we learn from the COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 crisis is really unique. During this lockdown, we have all learnt that there is life beyond work. Most of us have not given as much attention to our families as we should have. After this is over, we will balance our work and home lives better. We will have to learn to work lean and more efficiently with a good amount of work being done from home. Besides, customer requirements will change and we expect the over-dependence on Chinese capacitors and raw materials to reduce dramatically. This will be good for Indian companies like Deki.
Every person has his or her own management style. I have always believed that if you lead from the front and your team has the confidence in you, you will ultimately achieve success. When I was a junior engineer, my team of workers would do much more than was expected of them, when they saw me working along with them. Now when I am VP, I see my team of AGMs and DGMs doing the same. The secret mantra is to praise them for the successes and take the reproaches if things do not fall into place.
My key contributions to the industry
There are many things that I have achieved in my long professional career but a few stand out. At Philips, we worked for a year or so with Bajaj Auto to develop a CDI capacitor for the two-wheeler industry. The capacitor that we developed indigenously was unique—small and robust enough to withstand the continuous charge and discharge cycle that it was subjected to. Today, this capacitor is an industry standard and has totally wiped out the after-sales service market due to its zero defect performance.
Helping to make Deki Electronics Ltd India’s largest manufacturer of plastic film capacitors, with a capacity of 1.2 billion pieces per annum, is another milestone.
I am at the fag end of my career. I have worked non-stop for nearly 44 years. I plan to cut down on my workload and spend more time with my family, pursuing other interests like reading, playing bridge and tennis. I am confident that Deki Electronics Ltd will continue to do well without me, as my team is very motivated and professional.