Indians popular choice for senior roles at Asian companies

Last week, when Japanese AC maker Daikin inducted its Indian managing director Kanwaljeet Jawa into the parent company board, it reaffirmed a trend where a series of Indian CXOs are given leadership roles in some of Asia’s largest and marque consumer electronic brands.

In the past three months, Nikon and Sony have appointed Indians — Sajjan Kumar and Sunil Nayyar — to lead their local operations, which were earlier managed by the Japanese.
Asian consumer electronics makers are increasingly placing their trust on Indian executives, especially at a time when several of them are struggling in their home turf, or finding the going tough in the largest markets, and are expecting India to play a bigger role when they are expanding to emerging markets, said three senior industry executives.
The number of expats in senior roles in the Indian arms of Sony, PanasonicNSE 6.63 %, HitachiNSE -0.47 % and Daikin too have come down, while Samsung too now has Indian executives in their global think tank, the executives said.

Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India managing director Gurmeet Singh said overseas entities have begun to realise that business is best understood by locals and have started handing over major roles to them. “The overseas entities send in their representatives from various departments to share best practices being followed by various entities all over the globe. The process is laid down between local entity and global teams and then those processes are monitored and administered,” said Singh, who became the chief of the Indian operation last year.
At Hitachi, for instance, there are two expats in senior roles against four earlier, with Indians taking charge of the managing director’s position and that of chief of quality management.
At Daikin India, Indian executives have replaced expats in seven critical functions like deputy plant head, senior vicepresident (tech support) and general managers for service, HR (factory) and R&D. In Panasonic, expats in mid-tosenior roles are now 20%, compared with 40% three years ago.
Manish Sharma, chief executive officer of Panasonic India, who last year became the only Indian to be part of the global leadership team, said the company in the past four-five years have transitioned to an autonomous operation whereby all CXOs and business heads are now Indian executives.
“Empowering domestic leaders helps us to understand the pulse of the market, aids in faster decision making to facilitate growth, gets the best of local knowledge to promote R&D and deliver customised products for local customers,” said Sharma, adding India’s contribution in global strategy planning too has gone up. Sony, LG and Samsung did not comment on the story.
However, industry executives said that even in Korean companies — where expats tend to closely control the business at all levels — some subtle changes are taking place.

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