Saurav Mukherjee

Rakesh Gaur
Chief Executive –
SAE Brazil

Rakesh blends his personal and professional learnings to chart his exciting role at KEC’s SAE Brazil, which also marks his return to the EPC major. Here, he shares his experiences and insights in leading the company’s expansion in the Brazilian market:

Please take us through your professional journey with RPG Group.

KEC International launched its substation business in 2006. I was part of the company’s early-stage operations in Central Asia; we were the first Indian company to start an EPC project for transmission lines and the substation business. This work continued over the next decade, and we were quite successful at this too.

In 2015, I moved to India to focus on our railway business, a domain that needed a serious course correction. Railways was a 100 crore business for us then, and we wanted to grow it to the next level. During the period 2015-2019, we managed to turn around whatever losses we had been incurring on this vertical. Keeping our 2015 numbers as the baseline, we have been doubling our turnover from the railways business pretty much every year. Over the last five years, the railway business has registered a CAGR growth of 75% and is expected to touch 4000 crore revenue this year.

To sum up my association with KEC, I was extremely fortunate for the opportunity to play a significant part in the company’s growth story. Hence, when I received a chance to take the business ahead in South America, I was 100% sure that it would once again be a highly satisfying and enriching experience for me.

Among the values of the Group, which do you most relate to and imbibe in your daily life?

I relate to all five of them in both my personal and professional life, and not in any particular order.

Integrity has been a steadfast companion for my conscience. The question I constantly ask myself is this – have I been routinely reflecting upon my actions, ethics and deliverables, even when no one is watching?

The Group values clearly state that we should respect all our stakeholders. We should understand their knowledge, contribution and even limitations, and accept them for that. Care and consideration for others is important. Irrespective of professional success, one can never be a successful human if they aren’t emphasising openness, collaboration, and inclusiveness through their actions and words.

When it comes to courage, I like to lead by example — right now this is reflected in taking on a new assignment and learning Portuguese, at my age. I have a compelling desire to excel in execution. The time I’ve spent in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, where the temperature falls below -40 degrees Celsius, and the projects executed by KEC in the hostile environment of Afghanistan, have helped build my strengths. Moreover, I took on railway projects at a time when this wasn’t considered a smart career move.

Passion has always been the underscoring tenet in my endeavours; I take interest in all the elements of my business unit. I see myself as a passionate student and will continue to learn throughout my life.

Recently, SAE has diversified into the EPC business. What is the company’s USP here?

KEC’s manufacturing base caters to developers in the energy sector while also cementing its position as a reliable supplier for towers and hardware fitting. As the world moves towards renewable energy, I have oriented myself with the same. Brazil has around three times more land area compared to India, and their government is planning to develop several large-capacity transmission lines across the country. So, one can only imagine the amount of work that must go into building connectivity there.

KEC’s strengths include global exposure across the best technologies in the industry, an innovation mindset, and capabilities in contract administration wherein we can draw resources from our parent company at a moment’s notice.

Our vision goes much beyond excelling in transmission and distribution in the Latin America market. We aspire to expand all our business units that are currently operating in India — solar, railway, water, oil and gas. With Brazil as the hub, KEC promises to be a partner in Latin America’s transformation.

Which aspect of your work-life excites you the most?

My nomadic status is my favourite part. Nomads are very well known in Kazakhstan — they live out of tents as they move from one place to the next. I identify with that style of living — nature-travelling, understanding new cultures, adjusting my perspectives from a myriad of views. Adapting oneself to local practices is the equivalent of an ‘upgrade’, which is responsible for optimal efficiency, no matter where you are.

With the ‘Hello Happiness’ initiative there is now a clearer sense of purpose, as demonstrated through a focused, empathetic, people-first approach practiced by the Group.

You have worked with a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. What is the X-factor required to lead and manage a truly diverse team?

To be successful in overseas markets, one must think globally while acting locally. We need to expose the country team to global tools, technology and best practices, and do this while understanding and appreciating local cultures and the diversity native to a region, their languages and history, among others. All of this works better when you support the team, instead of trying to control them.

Happiness is our Group’s brand promise. What are your views on Happiness at RPG?

In a corporate setting, it is usually success that determines happiness at the workplace. However, the RPG Group has adopted a unique and refreshing approach towards caring for its people. This became a collective movement to minimise stress levels, throughout the Covid-19 phase and now beyond. The 'Hello Happiness' tagline gives a clearer sense of purpose, as demonstrated through a focused, empathetic, people-first approach practiced by the Group. When people are happy, they demonstrate ownership.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

Professionally, I’m looking forward to stabilising the operations of the country. Brazil has its own challenges, and we are confident that we will emerge as a strong EPC player in this market.

On a personal level, I look forward to spending more time with my daughter, who is studying in the US.




RPG innovation festival season - 4