Anand Mahindra has already chosen his successor, but only the board knows who it is

November 21
03:22 2017

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said on Monday that the organisation has a robust succession plan in place with a “food court” of leadership at its disposal.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Mahindra said the board already knows his choice of successor. As for other top roles at the company, he said the visibility into the next rung of leadership at the company is clearer than at most other corporates.

“If you look at our group executive board, all of them are potential leaders,” said Mahindra. “There is no doubt that should the succession need arise (for new leaders), there will be plenty of resources to fill the gaps… there is always an alternative.”

Mahindra was speaking on the sidelines of an event to inaugurate M&M’s manufacturing plant in Detroit, the company’s first in the US. The unit will make off-road vehicles targeted only at the American market.

Mahindra, 62, has been at the company for nearly three decades. His tenure as chief has seen the group expand domestically and internationally into a range of major industrial sectors from automobiles and agriculture to IT and aerospace.

Mahindra had earlier said that the company should a succession plan “just in case I’m hit by a bus”. He appears to be taking a leaf out of L&T’s book, where former CEO AM Naik’s succession plan was put in place at least two years before his retirement in July this year.

While Mahindra has been a stable force at the USD 19 billion conglomerate for years, recent upheavals at top Indian companies perhaps serve as a reminder that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

As witnessed at Infosys & Tata Sons, abrupt top-deck changes can leave a company unstable. While the IT bellwether went through a tumultuous year before Vishal Sikka stepped down as CEO and co-founder Nandan Nilekani took the reins as interim chief, the salt-to-software conglomerate had seen a bitter boardroom battle which led to the ouster of Cyrus Mistry.