Rajendra Mehta, group CHRO, Suzlon Group, is an avid reader and is well regarded as an orator and a speaker. He was an outstanding tennis player in school and college and loves spending his free time around his family.
Mehta did his early schooling from Panchmarhi, Chattishgarh, known to be among the remotest parts of India. Getting quality education in such geographies was always a challenge. Therefore, “hostels and boarding schools were the best options then,” recalls Mehta.
Being born in a middle-class family comes with a lot of responsibilities as one grows up. However, there are some learnings that one can only get in such families. Mehta adds, “I think the advantage of being in these geographies is being humble and being able to relate with anybody and everybody.” People go through their highs and lows, but still manage to enjoy every moment with their loved ones.
“Sometimes when one is pushed to prove oneself, then the outcome is equally strong.”
Rajendra Mehta, group CHRO, Suzlon Group
It’s a known fact that the environment we are exposed to has a significant impact on our personal growth and development. As children, we usually have someone whom we look up to as our inspiration. This also helps us set the course of our life.
Similarly, Mehta recalls, how his friends’ families had been a source of inspiration for him. “One of my colleagues came from a welleducated family, with members who held esteemed positions in the government, and oil industry at the time. To be honest, being surrounded by inspiring individuals who seek inspiration themselves can help to bring clarity and purpose to one’s life.”
Since his early days, Mehta’s focus had always been to elevate the level of success that his family had achieved and to multiply their achievements. He always aspired to contribute to the betterment of society and make a name for himself. “These dreams have been a driving force for me,” admits Mehta.
His focus was on building something for his family, using what they already had, and passing it on to the next generation. Mehta did not have a specific domain to pursue, when his parents motivated him to make a career in engineering. However, he never really saw success in the field in spite of the efforts he made. After a struggle of one and a half years, he dropped out and completed his graduation in commerce with top scorers.
“It was destined,” feels Mehta. My parents did not support me in pursuing the domain when I first talked to them. “I believe they had lost all hope in me,” Mehta recalls. As is common in a typical middle class family, they were anxious and worried for his future and career goals. However, this only fuelled his fire to achieve something in life.
To pursue his goals in HR, Mehta left town without informing is parents. When he was busy obtaining a management degree at Nashik, Pune, his parents were completely unaware of his pursuits. He never mentioned his MBA plans. “I did not wish to be a burden on them, which gave me more strength to chart my own path,” he says.
Mehta successfully completed his master’s degree in personnel management from JDC Bytco Institute of Management Studies, Nashik, Pune. He was amongst the top students of his batch and when he told his parents about the achievement, they were at peace. Mehta says, “Sometimes when one is pushed to prove oneself, then the outcome is equally strong”. This is what actually happened in his case, and he was finally able to make his parents believe that he had found his calling.
Mehta recalls his first job at KEC International, a flagship company of the RPG Group. “I was lucky to have got the opportunity to be a part of such a big and established brand in the initial years of my career, though I never intended it.” This jump start enabled him to learn a lot. The experience was highly satisfying, but there were good and bad times in his life, just as in the stock market where there are occasional setbacks.
The first job always makes people learn a lot of things. He shares, “My first job taught me that when one leads with the last mile — which includes the shop floor, employees, and other aspects of the business — it establishes a relationship that
provides one with the strength to do more. Since they are the first line of contact for customers and are critical to maintaining quality, supporting them leads to better results, which in turn benefits the organisation. This chain of support is crucial to the organisation, and it is essential to maintain it from the top down and bottom up. As long as this remains intact, everything else in the organisation will function well.”
Defining moment of career Mehta shares that joining The Times of India was the defining moment of his career. Working with the publication enabled him to align with the macro opportunities that the organisation offered and understand the roles each subset needed to play. He gives due credit to the fact that he was “always surrounded by individuals with diverse capabilities in a forwardlooking organisation”. He admits,
“These individuals challenged me to broaden my perspectives, change my mindset, and think beyond my current limitations. As a result, I developed a more forward-looking persona. These experiences have been significant learning moments for me.”
“Everyone desires to be respected, appreciated and trusted by others,” believes Mehta. It’s a great feeling when one receives positive feedback from customers or colleagues, acknowledging one’s hard work and dedication. I take pleasure in such moments, which motivate me to continue performing at my best level and improving constantly. That’s the ultimate goal.
Advice for the young folks
I always encourage new employees to work with senior colleagues as much as possible as it expands their thought processes. They can envision the future with clarity and identify opportunities that excite them. This also helps in personal growth.