Lakshmi Venu : The talented young business leader from the TVS family

Lakshmi Venu was in news in 2011, when the much publicized event of her wedding ceremony with Infosys chief Narayana Murthy’s son Rohan Murthy took place. In fact, it was termed as a “corporate nuptial” by the media, as Lakshmi Venu inherits Mr Venu Srinivasan’s TVS Motors and Rohan belongs to the IT giant Infosys of Mr Narayana Murthy.  

Education and corporate background

Born in 1983, she has an excellent academic background along with a rich managerial experience in her own company.  She did her schooling from Sishya School in Chennai and then joined prestigious Yale University and graduated in economics.  After that, she joined the University of Warwick in the UK and completed her doctorate in engineering management from there.

Beginning of the corporate journey

Later on she joined TVS Motors as a management trainee in the year 2003. Because of her rich education and genetic aptitude for automobile industry, she zoomed her way up to become a part of the Board of Directors of Sundaram Clayton, which is a holding company of TVS Motors within a short span of six years.  She also tried her hands at strategy and became VP, international business development and strategy, and independently handled US operations. At present, there are three women on top slots in Indian automobile industry and she is one of them. The other two include Sulajja Firodia Motwani of Kinetic Motors, who ranks second and Laksmi’s mother Mallika, chairman of TAFE Tractors, occupies the third slot. 

With a turnover of $1billion, TVS Motors are India’s third largest manufacturers of two wheelers as per the sales figures, and Lakshmi Venu, 30, is all set to take the driver’s seat.  The enterprising daughter of industrialist Venu Srinivasan is a well known face in the corporate world as vice president of Sundaram Clayton Ltd., the parent company of TVS Motors. 

She is very much inspired by her mother Mallika Srinivasan, who is heading the famous tractor company of India, TAFE.  It is a big group of companies with a turnover of Rs.6,500 crore.  So, inside the family, Lakshmi taking on the leadership role of TVS Motors is not something unusual, though for media, it definitely makes big news, when a 30 year old is assigned the responsibility of the chief executive officer of a leading automobile company in the country.  Her cousins Arundhati Krishna and Arathi Krishna are already additional director and executive director of Sundaram Fasteners respectively.  It is more to do with her upbringing under the mentorship of a hard-working and experienced father and an entrepreneurial mother.

The genetic edge and learning curve

Her father is also a well-known name in the automobile industry in India.  He is the grandson of T.V.S. Iyengar the founding father of the entire TVS group.  He had to start his journey at TVS in a garage as a mechanic, but later on he became the managing director in 1979.  Though, Lakshmi didn't have to go through the corporate ladder from the bottom, as she started off at the much higher rank of a management trainee in one of its manufacturing unit.  She traveled a lot between the head office in Bangalore and the manufacturing unit in Hosur to learn the intricacies of automobile business.  She also polished her skills in finance and management in the corporate office in Bangalore.

Achieving success as a woman

It is a mammoth task to face the challenges of automobile market being a woman and especially to lead it to number one slot.  Hero Honda is currently the number one automobile manufacturer in India followed by Bajaj Auto Limited in the two-wheeler segment.  TVS Motors has also taken the lead to launch a project in Indonesia.  She is also tasked with the responsibility of leading the company from number three slot to number one slot.  At the moment, she is the face of young India, which is professionally educated, talented and confident.  She is barely 30 at the moment and still much ahead in terms of achievements and hierarchy.

Learning leadership from parents

She finds her mother's leadership style quite inspiring.  In an interview, she stressed that a woman needs different type of strengths to face the challenges of the industrial world.  According to her, her mother leverages these strengths in a remarkably beautiful manner. Ms. Mallika Srinivasan brings new perspectives to the industrial group, she's heading. And that is the reason she is able to accommodate different perspectives from outside, which makes up for a superb corporate strength.  

Her father, according to her also has some remarkable business qualities.  His most important strengths include having a strong faith in people and his skill to empower them.  He's committed towards quality and has a bond of trust with his stakeholders.  He is quite concerned about maintaining the trust of the customers as well as the trust of employees and suppliers, which he thinks is the backbone of any business.  She thinks that though she has learned a lot from her parents, but the world of business in modern times is quite different from the world of business in their times. She believes that the biggest challenge of our times is the speed of change, and the best way to manage such change is innovation and adaptability.

The strategy of Ms. Lakshmi Venu

Responding to a question related to the weak demand and depreciating value of Indian currency, she says that TVS Motors is able to export some of its products and the prices have also came down somewhat, which is a positive.  But the other costs such as power costs, cost to maintain workforce and capital costs are all increasing and that's making businesses difficult to run.  The global political and business environment is also quite uncertain and nobody knows how it will turn out in a few years’ time. So, she stresses to remain agile and keep on monitoring trends and adapting to them. She also believes that internal efficiencies should be developed in order to stay competitive. According to her, internal efficiencies are not limited to cost-cutting.  It is much broader a concept and it includes innovation to achieve day today tasks while maintaining the quality and the end results.  She also believes in investing in order to gain a lot, so her mantra is to invest selectively and wisely.

Outlook for future Though she feels that TVS Motors has recovered from the economic slowdown of 2008-09, but it cannot be said to be a lasting recovery because there is no sign of upturn.  During the slowdown, she's busy developing the internal efficiencies through enhanced product design and development.  They are also improving their manufacturing capabilities, so that they can capitalize on it, when the market returns to its good times again.

Salary of Lakshmi Venu 

We have not found salary data of Lakshmi Venu as the Director of Strategy and Director of Sundaram-Clayton Ltd. from any reliable sources like ToI, Forbes, ET and other reputed news papers and Media houses, but the investing section of businessweek magazine has published the salary of Lakshmi Venu i.e 14,773,129 INR per year for the financial year of 2013, her salary breakups are as follows Total Short Term Compensation is 10,250,000 INR and Other Long Term Compensation is 4,523,129 INR, in this way she get Total Calculated Compensation 14,773,129 INR per year

Last Updated: April 2, 2013

Tags : Sundaram Clayton, Lakshmi Venu, Mallika Srinivasan, Venu Srinivasan, TVS Motors, TAFE, Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Rohan Murthy, Sundaram Fasteners

About Nashaat Quadri

Freelance Content Writer (Compare Infobase, New Delhi.) Ex Sr Content Writer, Western Software, New Delhi. Ex Relationship Manager, Mashreq Bank, Dubai.