Lakshmi Venu, 29, made more news when she married Infosys Ltd founder N.R. Narayana Murthy’s son Rohan Murthy in June 2011 than when she joined the board of Sundaram-Clayton Ltd, part of the TVS group, in 2010.
The daughter of TVS Motor Co. Ltd chairman and managing director Venu Srinivasan and Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd (TAFE) chairperson and chief executive Mallika Srinivasan, Venu was made vice-president in charge of global business strategy at Sundaram-Clayton, the holding company of TVS Motors, in May 2011.
Venu has drawn lessons from both parents. She has found inspiration in Srinivasan’s style of leadership.
“My mother leverages her strength beautifully and has a diverse perspective—women are particularly good at that and it is a huge corporate strength,” she said in an August interview with Mint. Among other achievements, Srinivasan spearheaded the acquisition of Eicher’s tractor business in 2005 that made TAFE the second largest tractor maker. Chennai-based TAFE is the flagship company of the closely held Amalgamations Group, one of India’s largest light engineering groups.
From her father, she’s picked up people skills. “The belief in people...he spends a lot of time, whether it is maintaining the trust of our customers, employees and suppliers in the short term as well as long term.”
Venu is a graduate of Yale University in the US and holds a doctorate in engineering management from the University of Warwick in the UK. She spent three years as a management trainee at Sundaram Auto Components Ltd, a TVS unit, starting 2003.
Neither TVS Motor nor TAFE has made public any succession plan, but Venu’s early grooming at TVS Motor points in that direction. She has worked in the areas of business strategy, corporate affairs, product design and sales and marketing at TVS Motor. Her younger brother Sudarshan Venu, 23, joined the board of Sundaram-Clayton in September 2011.
TVS Motor could do with some fresh ideas. Last year, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt. Ltd displaced the Chennai-based company as the third largest two-wheeler maker in the country.
“We’ve been constantly building capability at TVS Motor. It will soon be visible through some interesting launches that are coming up this year,” she had said in August. The economic slowdown, according to her, is an opportunity to improve efficiencies. “It has helped us acquire a lot of product design, development and manufacturing capabilities and with the next growth wave, we will be ready with a strong base.”