The elevation of Dheeraj Hinduja, 39, as the new chairman marks a new beginning for Ashok Leyland, India's second-oldest and second-largest truck maker. As the third generation Hinduja takes charge, R J Shahaney, who had been with the company for more than three decades, of which he was the chairman for 13, exits. Ashok Leyland has been the runner-up in the Indian truck and bus market for far too long with little sign of closing in on Tata. Insiders believe that HInduja could be the man to change that.
His colleagues say he sticks to his family principle and allows the CEOs of group companies to deal with the day-to-day affairs, but is keen to know what the companies are up to. Based in London, he visits India at least once every six to eight weeks. “He does not believe in surprise visits, but keeps himself updated constantly. His interaction is strictly with the CEOs of the company,” says a Hinduja Group executive.
The next phase in Ashok Leyland will be crucial. For the first time, the company, which has been a leader in the heavy segment, will take on overall market leader Tata Motors with an entry into smaller trucks (3-7 tonnes) with its joint venture with Nissan. An automotive industry lobbyists says Hinduja was Shahaney’s understudy for the last three years as the co-chairman.
He has spent more than a decade and a half at strategic and leadership levels, covering a variety of businesses such as automotive, energy, infrastructure, finance & banking, IT & ITES, media and healthcare. He holds BSc (Hons) from the University College, London, and an MBA from the Imperial College, London. He is married with two children.