A Quarterly Newsletter from the UAE and Oman member firms of the PKF International Ltd.

VOL 15, Issue 02 April 2013

Interview

Biography of Mr. Ramesh S. Ramakrishnan, Chairman, Transworld Group of Companies

Ramesh S. Ramakrishnan, with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience including hands on experience in ship owning, chartering and ship management, is the Chairman and the driving force behind the Transworld Group of Companies. Presently, the Group is headquartered in a sprawling location in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, with the Indian headquarters in Mumbai to oversee the Indian operations.

Ramesh is a noted philanthropist who supports many charitable trusts and worthy causes, and considers charity as a very personal and important part of his life.

His love for culture and the arts prompted him to organize events that showcase seasoned performers, as well as upcoming talent in Indian music as he believes that it is his social obligation to promote his cultural heritage.

Q.    How does your vision for Transworld in 2013 compare with your father’s vision in 1977, considering that the challenges in TWG’s various lines of business have only spiraled upwards?

My father died at the age of 57 which was very untimely, but he left the company with a strong foundation and a powerful vision and when I took over my ambition was to take the organization to greater heights keeping in mind his vision .Over a period of time I am happy to see the growth we have achieved and can confidently say we have achieved this keeping our vision in mind viz. “To be a premier organization, which offers total shipping solutions by providing high quality innovative services”, and through our people who have worked with the organization.

Q.    What would you define as your cutting edge in this competitive world?

The continuous challenge for the shipping industry has been its cyclical nature. A major challenge presented itself during the global financial debacle of 2007. Transworld has always been very prudent, conservative and forward thinking and its innovative methods have always helped tide over various global crises. Most of the businesses we have are integrated with the logistics segment and by virtue of this we are able to insulate from any potential decline or downturn.

Q.    How important have your employees and management team been in the group’s success?

Transworld has always encouraged every individual to make decisions confidently. Transworld started off as a family business and has now grown to be one of the largest logistics companies in the region. This has been made possible by adopting an ethos wherein we have empowered our people to make strategic and timely decisions. CEO’s are empowered to carry out the business of their respective units. And over the years each unit has evolved into a well-oiled, professionally run outfit. Each company in the Group is a profit centre and is given clear targets which are periodically reviewed. This has enabled us to identify synergies within the group and develop on opportunities that arise from there. Once a person is employed he becomes a member of the Transworld family and from then we trust him completely, until he proves us wrong, and this has been a winning formula for us.

Q.    How crucial is Dubai to the present and future of your group?

Dubai has provided us with everything. It is the place where we started our operations and has given more than what we wanted. With UAE being a very strong contender to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, there are plenty of opportunities to look forward to from Dubai for the growth of the Group.

Q.    The one question always at the back of the mind of anyone who has been a keen observer of Transworld’s rise / race from one milestone to the other is: “What next?”

We have now forayed into bulk carriers and special project verticals. We believe these expansions will add great value to our core business within the umbrella of container shipping.

Q.    What is common between numerous container-feeder ships plying the deep seas and exclusive classical music evenings for Dubai’s art connoisseurs? The answer is Mr. Ramesh Ramakrishnan ! How does this diversity in interests come about? Does it help keep a work-life balance?

In our endeavour to promote Indian culture we bring to Dubai many concerts featuring Indian artists. In a tradition truly started by my father which we have religiously continued, Transworld has been one of the pioneers in promoting local talent and allowing it to be showcased and this is related to Transworld’s long-standing commitment to promote Indian culture, music and arts in numerous ways. A standing example of Transworld’s passion for music and arts is the Sivaswamy Auditorium at the Fine Arts Society in Chembur in Mumbai which houses various musical events, plays and dance recitals all thorugh the year. Transworld’s dream was not just corporate success but also a dream to support the freedom of artistic creativity, and to help in the collaboration and exploration of world music and performing arts, and work for universal peace and harmony. Music helps decrease stress and helps one find balance.

Q.    It must be fun when corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a passion rather than a task! Talk us through your Group’s or your personal endeavors in this area.

Companies in every sector of the economy practice CSR which of course differs from region to region. At Transworld we go about various CSR activities in India as well where we engage in numerous activities for villages, orphanages, old age homes, and offer project training opportunities to unemployed youth fresh from colleges, organize yoga/physical fitness camps and organize various rural camps as well.

Q.    As an experienced businessman in the UAE, what message would you like to convey to budding entrepreneurs in the region?

The entire business and growth we have achieved has stemmed from this region. This is an amazing place of rejuvenation where the government and the people co-operate distinctively though expats come from various nationalities and cultures. Room for opportunities are endless and much more than what was available to us years back so budding entrepreneurs should take advantage of the opportunities that they are now provided with by thinking out of the box, investing right and making timely decisions.