"Business Personality in Profile"

G.M. Rao
Group Chairman, GMR Group

Hyderabad|India: G M Rao, a mechanical engineer, is the founder Chairman of GMR Group-global Infrastructure major. The Group is well diversified and professionally managed with focus on business verticals of Airports, Energy, Highways and Urban Infrastructure including SEZs, apart from interests in Agri-business.

Born on July 14, 1950 in a small town of Rajam in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, G M Rao established the GMR business empire starting from a single jute mill in Rajam in 1978.

A visionary businessman, G M Rao recognised the huge business potential in entering the infrastructure space, with the opening up of the power sector in the 90s in India. Within a decade, he successfully established three greenfield power plants in the country, one each in the state of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Under his guidance, the Group is now developing several power projects in various parts of the country and is expanding its activities to other countries also.

G M Rao expanded the Group’s presence in the infrastructure sector by leading the Group’s foray into Highways. The Group has already completed two Greenfield road projects and four more projects are nearing completion. Realising that Airports will drive the economy in the 21st century, G M Rao spearheaded the Group’s entry into the high profile airport business. Under his leadership the Group has developed the new Greenfield International Airport at Hyderabad, and is modernising and restructuring the Delhi International Airport. The first phase of Delhi Airport will be commissioned by 2010 in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Under G M Rao’s visionary leadership, the Group bagged its first global project by winning the bid to modernise the Sabiha Gokcen International (SGA) airport at Istanbul, Turkey and also ventured into the new business sector of Urban Infrastructure. The Group will set up a 3300 acre multi-product SEZ in Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu.

Besides infrastructure, the other focus area for the GMR Group is Agri-business. The Group already has a sugar plant in Andhra Pradesh and is coming up with more in the state and in Karnataka. The existing plant provides livelihood for over 25000 farmers from 500 villages of the region in one form or the other.

With a strong desire to serve the needs of the marginalised sections and the rural society, Rao set up the GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, to raise their living standards. The Foundation is active in the areas of education, health and hygiene, community development and empowerment.

G M Rao has today successfully established GMR Group, as one of the leading infrastructure organisations in the country. His commitment to the core infrastructure sector has resulted in the Group exiting some of the highly lucrative businesses of banking, insurance, breweries and jute. Rao was the largest shareholder in the country’s leading 75-year-old private sector Vysya Bank, which has been successfully transformed into a modern technology driven and hugely successful financial enterprise. For his visionary approach and outstanding contribution to ING Vysya Bank for a period of two decades as its Director and Chairman, the Bank in September 2006 conferred on him the status and title of ‘Chairman Emeritus’.

He was chosen as the ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ at the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2006 – 07. The award has been given to him in recognition of his exemplary entrepreneurial spirit and potential in breaking into the big league of top infrastructure organisations in India. He has also been awarded the `Most Promising Entrant to the Big League’ by CNBC TV18 at its `Indian Business Leader Awards 2007’.

To face the challenges of tomorrow and meet the future needs of a fast developing country like India, G M Rao has laid a strong emphasis in building a transparent and system driven organisation. While a set of seven core values define the GMR Group’s distinct organisation culture, Rao has also spearheaded a “Family Constitution” model for the group. The aim of this is to ensure a smooth transition of business from generation to generation, and enable professionals to discharge their rightful roles in the growth and development of the Group. In line with this, over a period of time, the members of the family would provide only the strategic inputs and investment needs and counselling for all the businesses and activities of the Group.

G M Rao’s thrust is on combining the best of entrepreneurial spirit with a dynamic team of professional managers who work in an enabling and vibrant organisational culture, to sustain and consistently meet his vision for the Group of ‘Building Entrepreneurial organisations that make a difference to society through Creation of Value’.

October' 2008
Reachout's News Bureau


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