The concept of leadership is shaped by people who are eager to convert ideas into action. Leaders must be creative with their ideas. They must also possess the ability to look at challenges in new ways and solve problems by seeing things that others don’t. The role of a leader in an organization is to harness inventiveness, imagination, innovation, vision, progressiveness, originality and resourcefulness to drive sustainable and meaningful business growth.
Leadership requires a keen sense of responsibility towards the organization, its vision and its people. It is crucial for a leader to establish effective communication, so she/he is approachable to everyone and every team member is well aware and accountable in achieving his/her goals. Sangeeta Prasad, the Managing Director and CEO of Mahindra Lifespace Developers Limited (‘MLDL’), is one such transformational leader and role model. With her determination and proficiency, she is an inspiration to many and is continually raising the bar on leadership.
An Intellectual Businesswoman
Sangeeta started her career with Tata Steel, where she gained strategic experience and exposure across businesses, functions and locations. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Jadavpur University and an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. She took over as MLDL MD & CEO in 2018 and is responsible for setting the strategic direction that will guide the company in its next phase of growth, as it completes 25 years of urban developments across India. She is also a frequent speaker and panelist at prestigious industry and international events. She has addressed audiences at multiple editions of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, where she led discussions on trends, challenges and opportunities in urbanization; business and people strategy in the digital era; and action on climate change. She was also a speaker at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or ‘COP 21’, in Paris, and at the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) held in Beijing in 2017. Additionally, she is also a member of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) South Asia board and Co-Chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Urban Development and Smart Cities Council.
Trust and Reliability
Mahindra Lifespace Developers Limited (‘MLDL’) is one of India’s most trusted developers with a proven track-record in residential and industrial developments. The company is the real estate and infrastructure development arm of the Mahindra Group, a USD 20.7 billion federation of companies headquartered in Mumbai, India since 1945. MLDL is committed to transforming India’s urban landscape through its residential developments under the ‘Mahindra Lifespaces’ and ‘Happinest’ brands; and through its integrated cities and industrial clusters under the ‘Mahindra World City’ and ‘ORIGINS by Mahindra World City’ brands respectively. Rising income, urbanisation and economic growth are driving demand for real estate and infrastructure development in India. A new regulatory framework has resulted in a shift towards transparency and accountability in favour of organised developers with strong brand equity. India’s real estate markets are increasingly end user focused and the value proposition of both the product and experience is more important than ever before.
Mahindra Lifespace Developers is at a naturally advantageous position in this new business and regulatory environment, given its strong focus on project design, quality and timely delivery. The company’s strategic priorities emanate from its core value system, which is built on trust and accountability towards its stakeholders and the environment. Mahindra Lifespaces is driven by its Credo of ‘Sell genuinely, Build responsibly, Deliver on time’. Sangeeta is passionate about raising the bar on customer delight through right-sized and right-priced products that cater to evolving market needs and create tangible value for stakeholders. A strong balance sheet, good governance and the Mahindra brand — a name synonymous with honesty, transparency and trust in India — add to the company’s attractiveness for both consumers and investors.
MLDL’s pioneering industrial developments – the Mahindra World Cities in Chennai and Jaipur – together span approx. 4500 acres and enable the ‘Make in India’ vision for 150+ reputed global and domestic companies. These include BMW, Infosys, Fujitec, JCB, Deutsche Bank Group, TTK Healthcare Limited, Gaston Engineering and Mahindra & Mahindra, to name just a few. The Mahindra World Cities have been set up in public-private partnerships with state governments and have created employment for 50000+ persons till date. Its joint venture, ORIGINS, which is in development with Sumitomo Corporation of Japan was inaugurated in Chennai earlier this year and has already signed up Yanmar Engine Manufacturing India & Nissei Electric as customers. MLDL’s industrial developments have been designed to enable faster go-to-market for businesses via world-class plug-andplay infrastructure, strategic locaon advantages and a range of valueadded services.
MLDL has done seminal work in adopting ‘green’ & ‘thoughtful’ design and construction principles: a way of doing business that Sangeeta strongly espouses. Sangeeta proffers that not only is environmental sustainability good for the planet, but also translates into product differentiation and business process efficiency. All MLDL’s developments incorporate green architecture, environment-friendly building materials and a sustainable supply chain. Its customers enjoy reduced utilities and maintenance costs in homes designed for conservation of water and energy. Abundant natural light and ventilation and low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) materials improve indoor air quality for healthy and balanced living.
A Perfect Blend of Technology and Quality
Sangeeta readily acknowledges the importance of technology as a key differentiator in India’s real estate industry. The right technology, when aligned to business vision, can aid construction speed, boost product quality and enhance customer experience. Mahindra Lifespaces uses applications to automate business development processes and improve internal visibility and predictability. These ready-to-use business applications can be integrated with its core systems faster and more efficiently. Innovative technologies in construction process, new material adoption and automation have helped improve quality of product and reduce construction timelines. The company is continually evaluating and adopting new technologies that can improve its business processes and make its developments future-ready.
Moreover, Mahindra Lifespaces effectively uses social media to reach out, engage and address queries from customers and the larger stakeholder community. It leverages its social media presence to proliferate causes it espouses, such as environmental awareness.
MLDL will continue to combine technology with organisational and operational innovation to achieve business growth. At the same time, the company believes that lasting, industry-wide innovation requires a collaborative approach, encompassing multiple stakeholder communities. Towards this end, it has established the Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence (CoE) together with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India. The CoE is a first-of-its-kind research facility that will leverage state-of-the art research techniques and tools to develop energy-efficient solutions adapted to Indian climatic conditions. Sangeeta believes this is a perfect illustration of partnership in science and technology for the greater good of society — and yet another example of the core value systems that define and guide Mahindra Lifespaces.
Changing Difficulties into Professional Success
Sangeeta attributes her success to the challenging projects and professional environments that have helped shape her leadership skills. Sangeeta joined Tata Steel after completing her MBA and was initially based in her hometown of Kolkata. Marriage and a move to the Indian capital of Delhi meant that she had to step outside of her comfort zone. This was also the me when she transitioned from a commercial function into a sales role, taking up new responsibilities in a work environment that was largely maledominated. Sangeeta had to work doubly hard to make her mark. The first year was possibly the toughest and yet, she reminisces, one of the most satisfying. This early stage, though initially unsettling, helped her build the inner confidence that is needed to take on uncharted professional territory and she emerged as a stronger and more resilient leader. She did more than thrive during this time; she achieved record sales and built a strong distribution equity and sales pipeline for Tata Steel. Most importantly, she built great relationships – both professional and personal. Cut to the present – both residential sales and collections at MLDL registered record numbers in FY’2018-19 under Sangeeta’s leadership.
Sangeeta’s current focus is on accelerating momentum with impactful launches, both in the residential as well as the industrial parts of the business. She asserts that “Tolerance for chaos and ambiguity is the key to professional success. Hectic decision-making and moments of strong doubt are par for the course.