For Banmali Agrawala, the Tata group, especially Ratan Tata, showed what the power of doing good for society could mean. “What a powerful driver it can be for an organisation and the people who work for it. It is empowering and passionate,” said Agrawala, president and CEO, General Electric (GE) South Asia, when asked about his learning from his earlier stint at Tata Power.
“Tatas was a great experience. I was in the board and worked with Ratan Tata,” he told Business Standard in March this year.
Agrawala is now set to join Tata Sons, the holding company for the group, to head its realty and infrastructure vertical that covers Tata Power, Tata Realty, Tata Housing and Voltas. He had earlier worked as a member of the board of directors and the executive director – strategy and business development. He was also nominated to the board of other Tata group companies and joint ventures. He left the group in 2011.
At GE, he is responsible for all of GE's operations in the region. During his six years at GE, Agrawala oversaw the firm’s integration with Alstom’s power business in India and the wrapping up of its financial services vertical.
The firm itself has undergone tremendous change, from being a traditional American conglomerate to being a pure play industrial group that works like a technology giant.
An energy professional, the 54-year-old Banmali has over 29 years of experience and has also worked with the Wartsila group for over 21 years. At the time of leaving Wartsila, he was the managing director of Wartsila India and a member of Wartsila Global Power Plant Management Board.
Agrawala is a mechanical engineering graduate from the Mangalore University and is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School.
In the last three years, GE’s South Asia business doubled under Agrawala. “I have got GE to change a little bit as well and I have changed myself and the two have converged. In terms of the changes I have gone through, I have learnt to focus on performance and on delivering results in a timely manner. In terms of changing GE, just the understanding of the market, who are the likely partners who are willing to take a suitable risk. I have been able to persuade and convince GE to get more aggressive. GE today in India is a very local company,” he said.