qualifications: B.E. (Electrical), Chartered Engineer.
I head: The Electrical & Electronic Services Division.
I deal with: Internal Services: Electrical Maintenance,
Electronic Maintenance, DG Sets, Air Conditioning, Compressed Air,
Electronic Measuring Instruments, Telecommunications and Energy
External Services: Electronic Technology Solution Provider,
Compressed Air Management Systems, Electrical Power Distribution Systems
and Electrical Contracts Division.
Our strength: The biggest strength of our Division is
My Division's marketing techniques:
Our single-most strength is completing projects with military precision,
providing high quality and delivering well before the timeframe given by
Its sales turnover: Over Rs. 10 crores.
The export turnover: Less than 5 per
My Division's goals for 2004-2005: To be the Number One
Energy Solution and Energy-Saving Company (ESCO) as well as Number One
in Power Distribution Bus Duct and Raising Mains Business.
My personal goals for 2004-2005: To
provide reliable, competent and cost-effective services to our internal
and external customers and achieve enough surplus from external
customers so that we can provide free services to our internal
My strengths and weaknesses: Quick
response to customer queries. Every customer must get a response (+ve or
-ve) within 24 hours, whether it is an internal or external customer or
My weakness is impatience.
My family background: Wife and two
children. Before marriage, wife Yasmin used to work with a Chartered
Accountant's firm. But she gave up the job, as travelling from Vikhroli
to VT was too strenuous.
Daughter Arzin, studied in SIES College, married to Dr. Sorab Italia, a
Family Practitioner in Houston, USA.
Son Azar, presently studying Final Year Engineering (Computer Science).
My first crush: Energy Conservation
and Environmental Management.
My hobbies: Swimming.
My pets: Dogs.
My favourite book: Made in Japan by
Akio Morita, Founder-Chairman of Sony Corporation.
I am content with: Spending one or
two hours of leisure in the evening with my family, after a day's hard
I get upset when: An unplanned emergency crops up because of
negligence or lack of foresight.
I am proud of: Being a Godrejite.
My retirement plans: To work on Environmental Management
maybe with some NGOs, where I can do some positive work on environmental
activities for the benefit of society.
The future of Godrej: Godrej's
biggest strength is its employees. With such dedicated, hardworking
emplo-yees, the future has to be good, irrespective of what we face in
I love India because: Of our rich
culture, heritage and the history of 7,000 years.
I believe: Firmly in the theory of
Karma as I am sure whatever good or bad we do, it is going to come back
to us in one form or another.
The Electronic Man
could call him an electronic man in an electronic world ?only, he can’t
keep pace with it. Which probably accounts for what he himself calls his
greatest weakness, impatience. His is a different world altogether, a bizarrerie with inbuilt emergencies, which he tackles as best he can in
an 11-hour stint from 6 in the morning to 5 in the evening, day after
day, sometimes even on Sundays. The harried look on his face is just a
mask, which he drops the moment we sit down for the interview and he is
his genial self again. By mutual agreement, we set aside the prepared
questionnaire and decide on an informal exchange of views.
The world may
be too much with him. But work does not tire him; rather it sustains and
enriches him. Meeting him for the first time is a surprise. Our contacts
so far have been only by phone and an officious e-mail. For one thing,
he looks better than he photographs and, for another, he is not by
nature officious. He looks with an indulgent eye on the young
executives? particularly the MBAs? unending search for greener
pastures, but his own loyalty to Godrej is old-worldly and absolute.
Thirty-four years is a long stint indeed, with never a thought given to
the occasional outside offers, tempting because of the specialised
nature of his work.
worked in Godrej in a PR capacity from 1954 to 1961 and having rejoined
in 1991, I am astonished by the many changes in management styles. So is
Homi Daruwalla. His used to be a one-to-one interaction with Naoroji
Godrej at a time when Godrej were manufacturing traditional safes,
cupboards, furniture, and so on. There was a dramatic change in 1990,
when trade barriers were broken, the pernicious Licence Raj was bid
goodbye, and foreign companies started bringing in their products as
well as their finance. "I didn’t myself understand at that time all that
was happening," Daruwalla confesses. "The meaning of change, the total
transformation with new machinery, new processes, vastly different from
the old ones, with new management tools designed to take the competition
I’ve always been sceptical of the new meeting culture. Daruwalla assures
me that, under the changed circumstances, regular, frequent meetings are
not only necessary, they are inevitable: "Over the years, our Company
has expanded not vertically, but horizontally. A single Division or
Department can no longer work in isolation. We have a centralised Human
Resources Department, Industrial Relations Department, Capital
Procurement, Infotech, etc., and we have very heavy cross-functions
between these Departments for day-to-day working. Hence, it is but
natural that we regularly meet and discuss various issues and problems
with these cross-functional teams. Once upon a time, Dr. K.R. Hathi was
Marketing Head and everything was under him ?branches, warehouses,
showrooms, everything. Once you spoke to him, you covered everything.
Today, there are so many Dr. Hathis. Technology has advanced and become
so complex that many new departments are formed, more people are
involved and a lot of time is spent on meetings. At the same time, if we
didn’t meet, things wouldn’t work."
electronic revolution poses a paradox, that while individual time is
saved, collective time spent on meetings has multiplied: "For instance,
I was in Pune yesterday, attending a CII meeting. My work didn’t come to
a standstill. I carried my laptop, accessed my mail frequently, my
mobile phone stuck to my ears. My engineers and assistants call me up
and I respond to them and suggest actions to be taken. I spend about 25
per cent of my time meeting outside people and try to give 75 per cent
to my own engineers and subordinates. Before 6.45 a.m. every day, I try
and finish all e-mail and corres-pondence, so that I am able to devote
three hours up to 10 to have one-to-one discussions with my engineers on the day-to-day running of the Department.
Thereafter, I spend time with other departments.?Daruwalla jokingly
refers to his Electrical Department as “Emergency Department? “I get
emergency calls on a 24-hour basis, almost every day. On an average, I
get six to 12 calls at home in the evenings, sometimes even in the
middle of the night.?His private life is disturbed. Evening cinema
shows for which tickets have been booked have to be cancelled. “My wife
understands. But consoling my two children was quite a problem.?/p>
We revert to the question of loyalty. I recall how Prof. S.K.
Chakraborty in his book Managerial Transformation by Values deplored
that the old bonds of loyalty and understanding between the management
and workers in Godrej did not exist any more: He felt the need to
demonstrate that an “Indian Ethos ?Western Technology? on the lines of
the highly successful “Japanese Ethos ?Western Technology? could be
evolved and made workable. Daruwalla too attended many of Prof.
Chakraborty’s lectures. But, according to him, it is not so much a
question of loyalty as an eagerness to change and greed to earn more.
“As competition increased, in Appliances, in Furniture, everywhere, if a
manager has 14 to 15 years?experience in Godrej, he becomes a
much-wanted person to our competitors. They pick him up at double the
salary. This is what Godrej simply cannot do.?Besides, in the good old
days, technology diversification was far less. Today, diversification is
the order of the day. Managers keep hopping from company to company in
order to widen their experience in at least three to four technologies.
Impatience is a must of the driving spirit. Could that be a weakness?
“Yes, I know. If people do not work at my speed, I become impatient.
When there are 10 different jobs in hand, a meeting which was supposed
to get over at a stipulated time gets stretched unnecessarily, add to
which there is some sort of an emergency, and handling all this becomes
He had left unanswered a question put to him earlier about the most
embarrassing moment of his life. I asked him why. It was so as not to
cause embarrassment to someone closely associated with the
Platinum-rated CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre at Hyderabad.
When I told him he needn’t mention any names, he relented: “This
happened at a time when, forget Platinum, in India we had not
constructed even Gold, Silver or just Certified Green Buildings.
Platinum is the highest, requiring 56 points. Unfortunately, in the
first submission, out of 56 points attempted, only 17 points were
guaranteed. Even for simple certification, 26 points are required. I had
to bear the brunt of our poor, even pathetic documentation. But let me
tell you, one good came out of this embarrassment. A team was formed and
it was decided that every submission thereafter should go through S.
Raghupathy of the CII and myself before forwarding to LEED. Finally, out
of 59 points attempted, we got 56 and our building got awarded the
Platinum plaque as the world’s greenest building at that time.?br>
Daruwalla’s close association with the Green Business Centre
was a high point in his career. There were other high points too ?in
1996 the Electrical & Electronic Services won the prestigious ISO 9000
and ISO 14000 for the high level of their services, the first Internal
Service Department to win this distinction.
There are self-centred people, and there are work-centred people. I have
observed that the personal lives of work-centred people are more
interesting than those of self-centred people, which are mostly ego
trips. Not so in the case of Daruwalla: “I am 57. I have been able to
balance my life between my work and my leisure activities. There were
occasions when I stayed back till 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. But now I’ve made it
a point to be available to my family from 5.30 p.m. onwards.?This
reminded me of our former Chairman Sohrab Godrej. He too was a
workaholic, so much so that even 24 hours in the day were not enough for
him. When I mention him, Daruwalla recalls that he too had worked with
Sohrabji for nearly 25 years and had learnt a lot from him.
Daruwalla used to take a 40- to 45-minute walk every day in
Vikhroli on the Hillside grounds. When he shifted to Ghatkopar, he had
to look for a suitable place to take a walk. Now in Dadar he walks
around Five Gardens. Of late, he has started swimming at the Godrej Club
House after office hours, before going home. Pets, particularly dogs, he
loves. “I had quite a number of them, but had to give them away because
my wife was allergic to them and got asthma attacks. But when I was in
Ghatkopar, there was a little pup in our building called Julie. She was
very friendly with my daughter. I used to notice that she would
accompany my daughter on her way to school and would wait for her to
cross the road safely before returning home. This so touched me that in
spite of my heavy schedule, even now when we are staying at Dadar, I go
to Ghatkopar every day in the morning to feed her. Poor thing, she is
now totally blind. But she recognises me by smell. She even recognises
my car horn and starts barking before I reach the door.?br>
This love for animals was shared by Naoroji, who didn’t like the crude
manner in which dead pets were disposed of at the Sakarbai Petit
Hospital. So Naoroji thought of an electric crematorium and the man he
approached to build it was Daruwalla. “We were discarding our enamelling
furnace at Vikhroli. We had designed an oven that used to operate at 800
degrees Celsius. We upgraded it to work at 1,300 degrees Celsius,
whereby the body is converted to ash in the twinkling of an eye. I am
happy to say that it is running perfectly well at the hospital, and the
hospital is making good money out of it.?br>
Daruwalla’s other hobby is reading books or, rather, management books.
His favourites are two, Made in Japan by Akio Morita, Founder-Chairman
of the Sony Corporation of Japan, and The Reckoning by David Halberstam.
The first recounts the story of how Japan, totally destroyed after World
War II, took a giant leap forward to change the tattered industrial map
of Japan. The Reckoning is the corporate story of Nissan, which
describes how Japan became a superpower. The author compares two
automobile giants, Ford Motors, USA, and Nissan in Japan. It shows how
U.S. automobile giants (Ford, General Motors, Chrysler) were once ruling
the world. But then the Japanese car industry posed a real threat to the
American, in terms of quality, reliability, fuel economy and price,
beating the Americans on their own turf.
Just as Naoroji was an inspiration in his younger days, so is Naoroji’s
son Jamshyd now. Jamshyd gives immediate sanction for all investments in
Energy Saving Equipment, which pays back within two years. In fact, he
encourages all such investments with rapid returns. At first Daruwalla
thought such immediate sanctions would be given only for small
investments of Rs. 4 to 5 lakhs. What about larger investments? Will the
sanction come through as fast? “One day I approached Jamshyd with a mega
project on energy conservation costing Rs. 70 lakhs. I explained the
project to him, wherein there was a guaranteed saving and attractive
payback. To my surprise, the sanction came equally fast.?br>
We discovered some common ground between us in our shared belief in
karma and in astrology. He told me of an astrologer in a royal court to
whom the Maharaja would always send the janam patrikas or palm prints of
each and every member of his family. One day the Maharaja felt like
testing the astrologer. He prepared some fictitious palm prints and
false birth details and sent them to the astrologer. After two days the
Maharaja got a reply. The astrologer wanted to come and personally meet
the man whose palm prints the Maharaja had sent him. He told the
Maharaja that a person with such a palm and such a patrika, could never
even take birth. If at all such a person existed, the astrologer would
sit at his feet and would learn astrology from him. The Maharaja learnt
It had been a stimulating interview. I thought ?here is a man who is
impatient, restless, effective, a workaholic, able to survive by
summoning the inner resources of the spirit. To a true workaholic, work
is infinity ?an opportunity for infinite improvement.