V.R. Mahadevan MD, BGR Energy Systems Ltd
If you are looking out for a high performing engineering professional who has sound experience in Marketing,Product Design, Project Management, Manufacturing, and in Construction management, a globe trotter, ever smiling even in a crisis and a very good person with great humility and one who would downplay all his achievements, your search could actually stop here. Very glad to meet Mr V.R. Mahadevan, 81 (Electrical & Electronics) one more of our alumnus who has reached a top position in the corporate ladder. He is the Joint Managing Director of BGR Energy Systems Ltd a $ 750 mn Public listed Engineering organization headquartered in Chennai. His journey is continuing and am quite proud in interviewing my own class-mate !!
V.R.Mahadevan hails from Vellore and was born in a family of advocates, his father,uncle, his grandfather, his grandfather's brother were all advocates practicing the legal profession. He is the eldest in his family and has a sister and a brother. His father had 3 brothers and 2 sisters.Most of his father, siblings stayed together .There were more than twenty of his cousins all staying in a large house within a large compound. His father was strict and his grandfather was even stricter who disciplined all his grandchildren and moulded them all very well and helped them to choose their own vocations. All the cousins were more or less in the same age group and so they had a good time as they grew up in a closed and protected environment. Even if they had to play a cricket match there was a 11 in both the sides !! There was no necessity for him to know of the world beyond the compound of their house since all the cousins went to school together, studied together, played together. Some of them were even class-mates and hence there were not many friends from outside. VRM was good at academics and stood within the first 3 ranks throughout school and joined Annamalai University in 1976 securing a high percentage in SSLC.
Entering Annamalai University, joining the hostel with the Faculty of Engineering and Technology block of the University was just like the experience of water from a state of stillness gushing out of the sluice gate of a dam in to a different terrain. This is when he saw so many new faces coming from different parts of the state, their diverse background and the lingo made VRM absolutely confused but kept him amused !! He was soon able to adapt to the change and had made some good friends in the 81 batch many of whom he even now maintains contact. VRM studied well to pass out with distinction in 1981.
He started his career with ECE, a lift company in Chennai and worked for 2 months before joining Best and Crompton Engineering Ltd in Chennai as a Trainee engineer in the projects management of cooling water systems. He was immediately posted to Bangalore and later at Hubli and Dharwad at Project sites and was well exposed to Erection and Commissioning involving all branches of Engineering. This exposed VRM to the difficult living conditions at site,ability to deal with workers and provided hands on experience in handling various mechanical equipment, electrical and instrumentation systems. Project Sites those days were remote locations not easily accessible and with poor communication and and any smart Engineer had to learn to overcome these infrastructure hurdles in addition to understanding the job. VRM at the start of his career ,was exposed to these very challenging site conditions, stringent deadlines and high quality checks for a perfect finishing. He had tough bosses who demanded the best from VRM and this made him more resilient, tenacious and patient which would help him later in his professional career when he had to handle bigger challenges. His site exposure enabled him to plan, supervise, test commission projects from the level of blue print to the level of structure and making them operational. Working in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh and Orissa made him become multi lingual where he had to learn the native language to get works done at site. When he got promoted as Senior Executive - Projects he was looking after designs, sales promotions, site jobs as well as finance. He stayed with Best and Crompton until 1987 before joining BGR Energy Systems.
VRM, after a fairly good exposure at Best & Crompton, decided to change jobs. He got an appointment from Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation when one of his friends suggested that he should meet with Mr B.G. Raghupathy the founder of BGR energy systems who wanted to have VRM work in his company because of his experience in a similar field. VRM went to BGR energy systems, which were then called GEA Energietechnik Gmbh, Germany, a joint venture with the Indian promoter Mr B.G. Raghupathy. In his tête-à-tête with Mr B.G.Raghupathy, VRM was extremely impressed with Mr B.G. Raghupathy's vision,confidence, clarity of ideas and BGR convinced VRM who bravely chose to join BGR, which was a small company with a turnover of about Rs 7 Lakhs and less than 10 employees. This move he says was a Divine intervention.
GEA Energietechnik Gmbh Germany with the Indian promoter Mr B.G. Raghupathy set up a joint venture to manufacture and sell On-line Condenser Tube Cleaning Systems, Debris Filters used in Thermal and Nuclear Power Plants. Between 1987 to 1992 Mr V.R. Mahadevan was working as a Manager (Projects) and in this capacity he spearheaded the technology transfer from German partner and construction of manufacturing facility for energy saving systems to the power sector. He was also responsible for design of the product with overall responsibility for manufacturing and installation of the same.
VRM got married to Bhuvaneswari ,an English literature graduate in 1988 and has two daughters.While his work permitted very little time for his family ,it was his wife who played a great role in bringing up their children while also focusing on her studies completing her post graduation in Hindi.
His first visit abroad was to Malaysia in the year 1989 to get a contract. Later he was travelling there every month to fulfill Contractual commitments.
There were very few Indian Companies Supplying Equipments to the Power Sector overseas in the 90s and VRM played a key role in establishing the Company overseas. His key achievements were at a time when the German partner exited this line of business. Between 1992 to 1996 he was the General Manager (International Marketing) where he was heading the company's International sales team for energy saving systems to the power and desalination sector worldwide. His key achievements were that he was responsible for setting up the sales team and defining strategies, achieved breakthrough orders because of his incessant follow up and was able to export their products to all parts of the world. Today the Company’s Products are in operation in more than 50 countries in the world covering all continents.
Between 1996 and 2004 VRM was President and CEO managing the operations of a project vertical in the power sector. In this capacity he played a vital role in taking the company to world number 2 position. By then the company had been a consistent winner of export awards each year. VRM was also instrumental in creating an R & D organization which currently boasts of a number of developments including world class patents. Between 2004 - 2007 VRM was a Whole Time Director overseeing the Project Management of large infrastructure projects . He was also a part of the core team involved in the IPO of the company in the late 2007/early 2008. In 2007 the company name was renamed as BGR Energy Systems. His responsibilities include tying up agreements with global companies for new products. The company had planned backward integration to manufacture many of the equipment it currently buys out and is looking at technology transfer agreements with globally renowned manufacturers. He is responsible for identification of partners with World's leading technology in the respective field initiating discussions for cooperation and setting up a base for negotiation of cooperation agreements. He was also responsible for identification of partners with world's leading technology in Steam Turbines and Boilers and in initiating discussions for cooperation and setting up a base . He was part of the team in negotiation and finalization of Joint Ventures with a $ 100 billion MNC for manufacture of key equipments.
BGR energy carries on the business in two segments, the supply of systems, the supply of systems and Equipment and Turnkey Engineering Project Contracting. They also have five complementary businesses including Power projects business, Oil and gas equipment business, Air fin coolers business, Environmental engineering business, and Electrical projects business.
VRM is responsible for the company's IT infrastructure implementation of ERP systems (SAP) and responsible for transformation of the company from a zero IT base to a highly IT-oriented organization.
On 25'th September 2013 BGR Energy Systems appointed Mr V.R. Mahadevan as Joint Managing Director. AUETAA is very proud to showcase the growth of yet an other of its alumnus Mr V.R. Mahadevan (81 E & E) who has been a core member of the BGR group for more than 25 years was always on the job, a trusted, able and reliable lieutenant to Mr B.G. Raghupathy the dynamic leader of the group.Mahadevan says that Mr B.G Raghupathy was a the great visionary, a professional and a people's man who was very respectful of all his employees and with enormous helping tendencies who always set towering goals . Although Mr B.G.Raghupathy is no more ,his well established company with the core team would strive to take BGR to greater levels with the vision set by their leader.
VRM attended a Management Development Program at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He knows besides English and Tamil, Kannada and Hindi. His work has taken him to USA, most of Europe ,CIS including Russia& Georgia, Egypt, the entire middle east and all of SE and Far east Asia Japan. He has been traveling a lot for so many years adjusting to the time zones, the people, the food, the culture, pressure of time frames and yet his passion for work remains unabated. His humility is just overwhelming. When i remarked how far he has come he quipped saying how far to go !! Life is tough, get used to it is a famous saying and this factor could be learnt from VRM who is good in the art of being patient, tolerant, persistence, tenacity, his Values, feet on ground and striving for learning and growing which helped him, his family and his company to greater heights.
VRM's first daughter is an M.S graduate from the U.S and now working in a Communications laboratory in the U.S, his second daughter is doing article ship for CA. Both daughters are proficient in Bharatanatyam and are regular stage performers. Now that the children have nearly completed their education ,his wife has taken up a profession as a teacher at a Montessori school in Alwarpet.
His advice to youngsters in the company ”Don’t avoid difficult situations. Face them squarely. The experience and confidence you get from handling these situations are what shapes you as a Manager of tomorrow.”
At the end of the interview i thanked Mr V.R. Mahadevan for his valuable time and wished him the best in the years to come.