five years, Imran Hassen was Volkswagen subsidiary Skoda's
face in India. So it was a little surprising to find him missing
at this year's Auto Expo, held early January in Delhi. Then, senior
executives from Volkswagen had said at the sidelines of the show
that Hassen had been sent back to the parent company following
differences over growth strategy for India. But now there are
rumours that the reasons for Hassen's hasty departure may be different.
For one, the industry's rumour mill is buzzing with talks of possible
financial impropriety involving Hassen. The Pakistan-born, German-raised
Hassen could not be reached for comment, but there's no doubt
that he played a crucial role in turning a bottom-of-the-pile
car brand (Skoda) in Europe into a premium marque in India. Hassen
has been replaced by Skoda's brash and young CFO, Lucas Folc.
So Hassen or no Hassen, we'll still have Skoda around.
is one of the few India-born CEOs of a US-based architectural
firm. And now Praful Kulkarni, the boss at GKKworks, wants
to "give back something to India". The IIT Kharagpur
alumnus is exploring ideas with Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist
and fellow IITian Vinod Khosla for a low-cost housing project.
Kulkarni, 52, whose firm has annual revenues of $50 million (Rs
225 crore), has executed residential complexes in Mumbai, besides
a cricket academy for the Mumbai Cricket Association. "I
think we are yet to see the best," says the California-based
Kulkarni of India's architectural prowess. With real estate booming,
Kulkarni will surely have plenty of opportunity to showcase his
The PE Bug
parting ways with UB's Vijay Mallya in September last year, Deepak
Roy, 56, the former head of Triumph Distillers & Vintners,
has decided to make a move into private equity by advising UK-based
Actis on investments in the fast-growing food and beverage market.
Besides leaning on his expertise in the beverages market, Actis,
which has over $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) in investments across
Africa, China, Malaysia, and South Asia, may also ask Roy to run
some of its investee companies. The man himself is reluctant to
disclose much about his future for the moment. "I will be
advising Actis and will take an active role in companies they
invest in," he says. Roy, who sold his stake in Triumph Distilleries
for Rs 15 crore to Vijay Mallya in March 2005, may be preparing
for another innings as an investor-entrepreneur.
got to be the genes. How else does one explain a 16-year-old not
just having the talent for art but the smarts for enterprise?
Last fortnight in Bangalore, Geetanjali and Vikram Kirloskar's
daughter Manasi put together a unique exhibition of paintings.
On display weren't her own creations (Manasi has been painting
as long as she can remember), but those of children from Rohini
Nilekani's Akshara and Christel DeHaan's Christel House for the
underprivileged. Money raised from the sale go to the two NGOs.
"I like working with kids and this was a great opportunity
for me to interact with them," says the 10th-grader. Apart
from Infosys' Nandan Nilekani, Toyota Motor's Honorary Chairman
Shoichiro Toyoda himself turned up to open the show.
The B1 Bomber Man
is Indian engineering services industry's best-kept secret. Nearly
three decades ago, Swami Narayanaswami, 65, was one of the few
Indians on Rockwell's prestigious, but top-secret B1 Stealth Bomber
project. After his stint in the us, the low-profile Narayanaswami
moved back to India and was one of the pioneers of the offshore
engineering services industry, by first, installing and training
aerospace engineers at the National Aerospace, Bangalore and then
starting CSM Software, a simulation products and services company.
"India can become a leader in the engineering services market
and over the next five to 10 years we can also look to compete
with the west on complete products rather than just services,"
says the man, who's just bagged a $1-million (Rs 4.5 crore) contract
from Tata Motors.
the J. Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles, you can pick up a stunning
screen-printed copy of Oedipus. And where was this award-winning
(AAM Museum Publications Design Award) book created? In Chennai.
When the Getty wanted to showcase the Greek classics, it made
a beeline for Gita Wolf, the lady behind the small, independent
imprint Tara Publishing (turnover: Rs 85 lakh). At 49, Wolf has
made quite an impact on global publishing with a unique calling
card of her own-the Bookcraft series. The series marries fabulous
traditional visuals, say Gond or Worli paintings, with text to
produce what is more a work of art than a mere book, each piece
individually screen-printed on handmade paper. "I have always
been fascinated by the combination of word and visuals," says
the unassuming Wolf.