A JOURNEY UNINTERRUPTED: DHANANJAYA SHARMA’S SU-KAM EXPERIENCE

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Dhananjaya Sharma was a young up-start in the electronics sector in 2001 when he was intrigued enough by the prospect of an exciting career in Su-Kam, at that time an up-an-coming company itself. After appearing for a series of interviews, he finally found himself sitting face-to-face across the table with the enterprising MD of the company, Mr. Kunwer Sachdev, for the final round of the interview process. Dhananjaya managed to impress the MD with his enthusiasm and an apparent penchant to think out of the box and was duly hired for a direct marketing profile. Those were the nascent stages of the company’s existence and Dhananjaya’s principle task with it was to facilitate sales to individual customers. The job would involve calling upon customers, taking their orders, securing advances from them and returning back to the office to follow up with delivery.

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It didn’t take much time for him to realise the importance of a volume-centric business model for the growth-prospects of the company. He lucidly conveyed his plans to the MD and convinced the latter to install dealerships across Delhi and the NCR region and to invest in product development. The company recognised the obvious technical expertise in Dhananjaya and put him through a training and education programme in which he distinguished himself by standing first in the course.

In November 2003 Su-Kam took a firm plunge into the export business and Dhananjaya was put in charge. Interestingly, he  had only acquired a passport the previous year and had never travelled abroad in any capacity what-so-ever. However, his unwavering professionalism and his company’s faith in his talents were to change things substantially. In December of 2003, Dhananjaya was sent to Bangladesh by the company to explore business opportunities. Thereafter, the MD entrusted him with the responsibility of devising and executing a proper plan for the company to expand overseas. At that time power back-up products were not on the list of products the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of India maintained to encourage exports. Dhananjaya’s objective was to make power back-up products a major export option and he resolutely set out to work on it.

Initially the guiding idea was to focus on countries with socio-economic contours similar or analogous to India. In this regard Africa was first identified as a suitable market to tap. Dhananjaya then engaged himself with the task of sending mails, raising enquiries and identifying specific requirements with potential buyers in Africa. He also used sundry search engines such as google etc. to understand the peculiarities, opportunities and the challenges of the African markets better. The first country where Dhananjaya secured an order for his company was Uganda which was of the tune of twenty units.

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Initially there was a lot of apprehension about the prospects of doing business there due to the Idi Amin factor. Nevertheless, such fears were to be proved unfounded as the Ugandans were mightily impressed with the company’s attitude and vigour. At that time Su-Kam was a fledgling company brimming with enthusiasm. Dhananjaya was representative of the young turks of the company who would leave no stone unturned to make the company a genuine and undisputed market leader in the power back-up sector. In focussing on Africa, Dhananjaya concluded that all countries are unique with peculiar challenges and opportunities. Therefore, he resolved to focus on each country on its own merits.

Dhananjaya’s focus was on product-betterment as well. In this regard he found his MD to be very cooperative and compatible with his plans. In this regard an anecdote as stated under speaks volumes. In April 2004 he drew up a budget of eighteen lakh rupees for the export division of Su-Kam. The MD, however, had better ideas and approved an allocation of forty-two lakh rupees! For good measure, the MD also told him in no uncertain terms that the two of them could only quarrel if he fails to spend the money fully! This entire episode reflects the fact that Dhananjaya was blessed to be backed-up by a very cooperative boss. Gradually more people were recruited under his able leadership in the company’s export division in order to cope with increased responsibilities.

The next milestone in Dhananjaya’s odyssey was the establishment of overseas presence for the company. In this pursuit, the first overseas office was planted in Dubai in 2008. He has participated in about one hundred and thirty seven exhibitions globally and owes his immense exposure to the bulk of these visits. His prime focus in the company has always been product improvement and increased global exposure for the company. His priority areas for improvement are manpower, new product launches and increased overseas presence. In this spirit of excellence, in 2008 itself, the company opened its second office in Nigeria. Today the company has service centres across fifty-two countries while its products go to more than seventy countries. Its most successful overseas market is Africa followed by the neighbouring countries of India.

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On the education front, Dhananjaya did his Executive Post Graduate Diploma in International Business (EPGDIB) at the prestigious IIFT, New Delhi in 2009-10. The course was sponsored and paid for by Su-Kam. Even though he had an MBA already, he contends that the EPGDIB programme helped him immensely in sharpening his managerial acumen and in developing other leadership qualities. His professional achievements are well-recognised across the spectrum. In 2011 Su-Kam was conferred the Star Exporter award by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India (GoI) for achieving phenomenal success in exports.

Furthermore, the company had the unique distinction of being the highest exporter of power back-up products throughout the period of 2007 to 2012. Su-Kam is also the first Indian company to cross the coveted Rupees hundred-crore mark in market consolidation throughout Africa. Dhananjaya has been at the helm of affairs of the company’s stalwart product launches in the overseas markets. It was under his leadership that Su-Kam started exporting inverters and batteries in 2003-04, maintenance-free UPS systems in 2006 and Solar Systems in 2008. In 2011, the company launched Automobile Batteries under Dhananjaya’s leadership and Generator Batteries in 2012.

In spite of having had such a successful career in exports, he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He has now set his sights on the Latin American market for augmenting the company’s overseas presence. Often he flies to the US for trade exhibitions in order to gain greater exposure into the markets and the products there. In 2012, the foundation stone for establishing a presence in Latin America was laid with the establishment of a dealership in Mexico. He’s also instrumental in propagating further diversification of the company’s businesses. He’s looking after the two current overseas infrastructure projects of the company, which are being rolled-out at a frantic pace in Afghanistan (installation of solar power systems) and Gabon in Africa (solar installations in rural areas).

Apart from these projects, he was also in the driver’s seat in implementing a Ministry of External Affairs, GoI project for the installation of solar power systems in one hundred and five schools in Rawanda. Another distinguished project executed by Su-Kam under his leadership was the lighting of some four hundred and fifty schools in Palabi through a hybrid mechanism of renewable energy involving an amalgamation of solar energy and wind power. Dhananjaya’s dream run in a job of spectacular opportunities continues to unfold at a frantic pace. His story of success is as much an allusion to his own talents as to the steadfastness of a company that backs its employees to the hilt.

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