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R Seshasayee receiving the  Rotary AwardR.Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland Ltd, has carved a space for himself in the history of the automobile industry in South India. Seshasayee took over as Managing Director in 1998, when the industry was in the throes of a recession. He achieved a dramatic turnaround and set a new direction for the company; the secret for the turnaround being foreknowledge and anticipatory measures. Refusing to succumb to the gloom, Ashok Leyland concentrated on the much needed revamping of its functioning in the areas of customer focus, customer satisfaction, teamwork and unity of purpose. His strategy included shedding excess flab, better inventory management, improved productivity and judicious use of finances.

A Chartered Accountant by qualification, he joined Ashok Leyland in 1976. He rose to the position of Executive Director (Finance) in 1983 and was made the Deputy Managing Director in 1993. A great believer in teamwork, he achieved synergy by forming cross-functional teams. He accorded top priority to quality of products produced, as well as quality of administration.

His achievements include, a past Chairmanship of the Confederation of Indian Industry - Southern Region, a membership of the National Council of the Confederation of Indian Industry for over a decade. He is currently the Chairman of the National Committee on Export and International Trade. He is also the Vice-President of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). He is the Director of several Public Limited Companies including ICICI and a member of the Southern Regional Advisory Committee of the Industrial Development Bank of India. He is also associated with with many professional and Academic bodies such as Accounting Standards Board, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute for Financial Management and Research and the Academy for Management Excellence. He has been an active member of the group which made recommendations for framing policies in approaching WTO issues.

R Seshasayee receiving the  Rotary AwardHis other interests include music, which he learnt formally from masters such as Valliyur Gurumoorthi, M.L.Vasanthakumari and Maharajapuram Santhanam. A good speaker in both Tamil and English, he has written short stories in Tamil under the pseudonym Vasumathi Ramaswamy, which happens to be his mother's name. He is deeply religious and a firm believer in universal peace and harmony.

The Rotary Club of Madras bestowed the For The Sake of Honour Award on Seshasayee, the highest honour that the Rotary Club bestows on any individual. In his acceptance speech, at this awards ceremony, he said that he was indeed fortunate to receive the award, but could think of countless other individuals who deserve the award. "No individual can claim his achievements as his own, no individual can stand alone". He also said that if the poetry of his life were to be written, then you would have to credit many other individuals who have shaped his life, the first on the list being his parents.

Author : Anuradha Sriraman
Photographs : V Ganesan

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