Sulajja Firodia Motwani - A New Breed of US Educated Business Leaders

Sulajja Firodia Motwani is the young and dynamic face of corporate India and despite all the problems and challenges faced by Kinetic Motors, she has managed to keep it afloat. Though Kinetic Motors Ltd. and Kinetic Engineering Ltd. are not known for superb products or terrific quality, surviving in this tough marketplace especially in Indian conditions is no less than a miracle. Sulajja is a talented lady, who has earned her management education from Carnegie Mellon University, US and Kinetic Group is her family business. Arun Firodia, her father is the founder of the Kinetic Group and her grandfather Mr H K Firodia was the founder of Kinetic Engineering.  So, business is in her genes. Kinetic Motors has gone far from a moped manufacturer to make bikes and scooters under her leadership.


Early life


Born in 1970, Sulajja was a meritorious student from the beginning.  She graduated from University of Pune in 1998 with commerce stream.  After that, she went to the USA and joined Carnegie Mellon University and completed her master of business management program.  In her Std. 10th and Std. 12th exams, she figured in the toppers list.  Just after completing her MBA program from Carnegie Mellon in 1992, she joined an investment company known as BARRA International, in its San Francisco office, which is a part of MSCI, a multinational investments and indices company.  She was handed portfolio management, analytics and risk management over there, during her four-year stint with the company.  In 1996, she was also handed over the responsibilities of starting and supervising the India operations of BARRA International.  The company still has its local office in Mumbai.


After her stint at BARRA, she joined Kinetic Group, her family business in 1997.  Initially, her designation was GM, corporate affairs.  She played an instrumental role in the strategy formation of the company, and at present, she is the director of Kinetic Motor Company Ltd. and also Kinetic Marketing Services Limited.  She also supervises the business development operations for the company.  Kinetic Motors has recently tied up with an Italian motor company, Italjet Moto, and because of this, Kinetic Group is all set to launch a series of latest scooter models in India.  As far as the popular Kinetic bikes such as Kinetic Aquila and Kinetic Comet are concerned, it is the result of Kinetic’s strategic tie up with Italjet Moto.  Because of the tremendous success of these bike models, Sulajja has received laurels from different corners and she's constantly being invited by business schools and forums to share her experiences and industry insights.


Awards/Accolades Received by Sulajja Firodia Motwani


She has been honored with many awards, including “Business Face of the Millennium" by the India Today Group.  As far as, her ranking by India Ttoday magazine is concerned, she ranks among the top 25 business leaders in India.  Business Today magazine had provided her the Young Super Achiever Award for the year 2003.  She has also won the performance excellence award as a woman CEO, by the Institute of Marketing and Management.  The World Economic Forum has chosen her as the "Global Leader of Tomorrow." 


Personal Life of Sulajja Firodia Motwani


She tied the nuptial knot with Manish Motwani, also a businessman and at present, managing director of Kinetic Hyundai.  The couple has a teenage son named Siddhant.  She's quite passionate about her health and fitness regimen.  He loves playing badminton and also participates in adventure sports such as scuba diving and skiing.  If she wasn't the part of Kinetic Group, she would have become a badminton prodigy, a la Saina Nehwal, as she had played badminton at the national level.  She also loves to spend time with her family, especially her teenage son.  She has two sisters and a brother.  Kimaya, who is elder to her stays in the US and the younger one, Vismaya, an engineering graduate handles export operations and PR of Kinetic Group.


She also looks after the business development activities of the Kinetic Group and is doing well as a director of Kinetic Motor Company Limited and joint M.D. of Kinetic Engineering Limited.  She speaks many languages, including local Indian languages such as Marathi and Sindhi and she is also proficient in French and English.


Controversies


It was alleged that Sulajja and her father Arun Firodia, deliberately misrepresented the facts about the board of directors and defaulted on bank loans and hence there was a misappropriation of Rs. 145 crores.  According to some, this information can be found on CIBIL website. Various Kinetic Group companies (related to finance and leasing) were involved in it.  People also referred to Mr Arun Firodia as “Fraudia (fraudster)” for this reason. People also allege that despite the higher education of Sulajja Firodia, she couldn’t revive the company post Honda Group separation. Taiwanese venture UEN also failed after Honda debacle. Its Italian inspired model “the Italiano Blaze” also failed, because of grave design flaws and poor quality materials used. Kinetic Nova also failed because of some idiotic technology used. Throughout last decade (post year 2000), Honda, Suzuki, TVS, and Hero continued to ramp up the market with great bikes, but Kinetic Motors failed on most fronts. Her critics accuse her of a greedy and dishonest management style, where vendors are not paid up their ethical dues and professionals are not regarded the way they should be. Gullible customers were cheated by Kinetics by launching junk bikes like Challenger and Boss. The list is endless.   


Achievements


Kinetic Group’s famous tie up with Honda Motor Company of Japan came to an unfortunate end in 1998, which proved to be a disaster for the company. Sulajja, then approached a Taiwanese company, UEN and South Korean motor company, Hyosung Motors to launch a variety of two wheelers.  Due to her intelligent strategic decision, Kinetic Motor Company was able to achieve the sales figure of 20,000 vehicles in the year 2002.  It was a quantum jump at the time, when kinetic group was struggling for survival.  She had an instrumental role in this big achievement, as she also headed the business development and marketing activities.


Salary of Sulajja Firodia Motwani


We have not found salary data from any reliable sources like ToI, Forbes, ET and other reputed news papers or Media houses, but once investing section of businessweek magazine has published the salary of Sulajja Firodia Motwani is INR 48,30,000 per year for the financial year of 2013-14

Last Updated: April 23, 2013

Tags : Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Arun Motwani, BARRA, Kinetic Group, Kinetic Motors Ltd., Kinetic Engineering

About Nashaat Quadri

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