There are two nations which are close to the heart of 49-year-old Ashwani Gupta, newly-appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Japanese auto major Nissan — India and Japan.
As an avid traveller, he makes sure that one of his vacations every year is to an Indian destination. He cherishes Indian food, Bollywood films and the Hindi language.
He was quick to learn and speak fluent Japanese and understand the culture as a young engineer in rural Japan in 1998 and also gave his second daughter, Megumi (means blessing), a Japanese name.
“I came to Japan with my family on March 11, 2011, when all the expats went back because of fear of the earthquake. I am very fortunate to be so warmly welcomed by the Japanese society and I feel a deep sense of personal and professional integration in the community,” he said. Gupta joined as general manager of purchasing at Renault-Nissan in Mumbai in 2006 and since held several important positions in the alliance, including global program director for Datsun. He is currently representative executive officer, COO, MMC and will assume his new role at Nissan from January 2020.
Under his leadership, all three alliance companies grew their LCV business and were making profits, despite slowdown in the auto industry during 2017-18. “My target was to boost each company’s performance by unleashing the full market potential and using synergies across brands,” he recalls.
Acknowledging the significant changes that the auto industry is going through, he says that there are five mega trends that are impacting the industry.
“The world is moving fast to an age of deglobalisation and regionalisation. In countries like India and Vietnam, there is an increase in the working population which drives the need for specific products. The tough global economic conditions are also adding to this.
There are disruptive trends like artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT), among others. Also, increasing environmental challenges demand immediate solutions like electrification and other related technologies.
“These challenges ask for highly diversified investments for comparatively less economies of scale, driving manufactures to prioritise investments, consider capacity, capability and ROI (return on investment),” he said.
Gupta feels that the five trends he mentioned are also impacting the industry. “The recent slew of measures by the government has not provided any significant boost to the industry. We definitely need stronger measures,” he said.
Those who worked with him recall that his success at the top becomes evident as he prefers to lead from
He always remained accountable for every component of the automotive value chain, he has paid close attention to his work and always lends a supporting hand to his team.
Lastly, he had the courage to take up new challenges as entrepreneur, turn around, grow and sustain, they say.