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Anant Goenka is probably one of the youngest heads of a large listed Indian firm. The 30-year-old’s appointment as managing director of tyre maker Ceat Ltd in March 2012 was a throwback to the time when his father and RPG Enterprises chairman Harsh Goenka took over the reins of the company at 24 and within six years became chairman of the conglomerate that has interests ranging from power equipment manufacturing to information technology. The RPG Group has since been split between brothers Harsh and Sanjiv Goenka.

After working outside the family business in companies like Hindustan Unilever Ltd and Accenture, according to the RPG website, Anant Goenka was eased into the family business, starting lower down the ladder.

Goenka, who studied business administration at the Kellogg School of Management and economics at the Wharton school in the US, says that rather than seeking direct advice he learnt by observing his father’s leadership style.

He started off as regional sales manager at Ceat, following which he moved to KEC International Ltd to manage the planning and monitoring of power transmission projects at the group’s engineering firm. He then led the telecom business unit and later the entire supply chain for the company.

He became deputy managing director at Ceat in January 2010, reporting to then managing director Paras K. Chowdhary, whose retirement paved the way for Goenka’s elevation.

Working across various group businesses helped Goenka realize his “true potential". He credits his father for helping him carve out his career path.

The younger Goenka describes his leadership style as being “participative" and apart from focusing on the usual strategies to improve operational performance, he’s also working towards improving “official and unofficial" channels of communications with employees.

Since he took over, a so-called Young Executive Board has been put in place at Ceat that advises the management “on a variety of subjects— whether strategic or operational," Goenka says.

Zahra Khan contributed to this story.

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