“I hope my organisation rides the wave of the upcoming e-mobility revolution with li-ion batteries and becomes a one billion dollar company in the next five years”

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Rajesh Srivastava, regional director, Coslight India

Incorporating the principle of ‘first time right’ in his professional life has helped Rajesh Srivastava, regional director, Coslight India, achieve a lot during his remarkable journey in the power electronics industry. In a candid interaction with Baishakhi Dutta, senior business journalist, Electronics Bazaar, he shares his passion for electrical energy and how this had led to Coslight becoming one of the leading battery players in the Indian market. Excerpts follow….

Some lesser known facts about me
Year of birth: February 27, 1965
Favourite music: Indian classical and Bollywood music as well as Western instrumental music
Favourite food: Mughlai and Chinese
Favourite films: ‘The Darkest Hour’ and ‘Sholay’
Favourite books: ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ and ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale
Hobbies: Playing chess, meditation, listening to TED talks and travelling to far off places
Idols: On the personal front, my parents; and professionally, Winston Churchill
Ideals I live by: Continuous learning, integrity in thought and action, and a belief in the Almighty.

Humble beginnings
I was born in a small village in Uttar Pradesh which had no access to electricity. I was a little over four years old when I was first introduced to the magical world of electrical energy. It was only in the latter half of 1969 that our house got basic electricity as part of an ongoing rural electrification program. Having seen the dark days, I was astonished by how a wire could light up a bulb, throw water out of a pipe and move the wings of a fan. Curiously, I would seek answers from my elders, who would snub me with their own innocent ignorance by saying, “Bijli se chalta hai.” Bijli or current and its abilities have intrigued me since then, and going forward, the resultant quest to know more about it, defined my career.

A supportive family
My father taught science and mathematics in a government school, while my mother supported him and the family by managing the arduous tasks at home. I am the eldest amongst three children and thus was the recipient of my parents’ attention and also shouldered the most responsibilities with regard to household chores.

Being a teacher, my father had a huge role in stimulating the curiosity of us three children, leading us towards the scientific world. His methods were very simple and practical, and we would spend a lot of time in the evenings discussing the magical concepts of science and numbers. My mother shaped us as individuals. Her selfless love and care left a deep impression on my mind and has shaped me into the person I am today, to a great extent.

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I met my wife, Rashmi, in Jaipur, where we got married. She has been the main reason for me carving out a successful career in the initial days. Beyond being a dream partner and a great friend, she ensured that I could focus on my work while she managed the challenges at home. She has a very positive attitude towards life, which gave me strength in some of the most testing times in my personal and professional life.

Rashmi and I are blessed with two lovely children. My daughter has completed her electronics engineering from Bristol University (UK) and is currently working in England. My son is studying electrical and computer engineering at the University of Arizona, USA.

Experiences as a young graduate
I did my initial education in my native village, at the same school where my father taught. Later, he got promoted and was sent to a nearby town as the principal of the local government school. Most of my schooling was in this institution. I was good at academics and was able to secure a national scholarship. Later, I cleared the entrance exam for the state engineering college and studied electrical engineering as my area of specialisation.
As a young engineering graduate, I got the opportunity to work with a public sector enterprise. Those were the days of a transformation in the Indian socio-economic scenario. I was thus lucky to have participated in the switch from electro-mechanical design to electronics data processing, monitoring and programming—both in the rural and urban sectors. Post 1991, I witnessed a broader transformation in technology, aided by the IT, communications and manufacturing revolution in the country.

During the initial years of my career, I got a chance to work with a Japanese team of engineers. One of them had the habit of writing down his daily tasks in a diary before the start of the day. I adopted this simple habit and realised a big change in my daily productivity. He taught me the principle of ‘first time right’, which again I inculcated in my professional practices.

A memorable journey so far
Passion drives my choices in life. I was lucky to have parents who allowed me to think independently and follow my instincts. I had a humble upbringing at a time when basic electricity was a luxury in most parts of India. My interest in science and my introduction to the magnificence of electricity at a very early age fuelled my passion towards electrical engineering and consequently guided my career options.

I have contributed to the industry by getting the latest technology and knowhow into India—in the domain of lithium and VRLA batteries. This has indirectly helped the industry go to the next level. Beyond this, I would like to add that my interactions with young engineers in my team have ensured positive knowledge-sharing. Nurturing the next generation of professionals is the best contribution one can make to any industry.

I strongly believe that persistence, the continuous zeal to learn, positive thinking, and the well wishes of my professional and personal families as well as my teachers from school and college, have all helped me achieve whatever I have, till date.

My management mantra
An inclusive approach that involves the voluntary participation of each individual backed by an atmosphere of innovation; the ability to challenge the status quo; and promoting new ideas and thoughts (both horizontally and vertically) across the organisation are all part of my management mantra. The team structure should be aligned to the objectives and needs of the organisation. I seek honesty in intent and a good fit into the roles, responsibilities and ethos of the organisation as the core qualities of my team members.

On the other hand, motivation is a customised commodity in management parlance. Each individual has his or her own acceptable stimulants that move them to perform at higher levels. I try to know each of my team members well enough to identify what works for them and accordingly motivate them.

Incidents that shaped me
Professionally, my decision to quit a government job and to make a foray into the private sector at the beginning of liberalisation in India was a major turning point. On a personal note, the birth of my children changed me as a person. It made me calmer and helped me appreciate the little details of life that we normally tend to overlook.

Going forward
On the professional front, I hope my organisation rides the wave of the upcoming revolution in the electric mobility and energy storage domains, and becomes a one billion dollar company in the next five years. Personally, I would like to be fit and healthy, despite growing older and reach a stage where I can spend more time with my family and friends.

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