The Growth Challenge: Rahul Talele
Rahul Talele loves a challenge. He has overcome plenty at Kolte-Patil Developers, and the Group CEO is leading the Indian property firm to exponential growth.
Before Rahul Talele joined Kolte-Patil Developers in 2010, he’d been working for a private equity firm which had invested in a project of Kolte-Patil. The experience gave him valuable insights into the assets at the company’s disposal and how they could be put to better use.
So, when Chair Rajesh Patil asked Rahul to "shift his chair to the other side of the table" and become a Deputy Project Director at Kolte-Patil, he jumped at the chance. "It was a very exciting thing for me, and I accepted this challenging opportunity," Rahul says.
He started by taking on assignments to improve the company’s slow-moving assets and, at the same time, the responsibility for strategy and initiatives under the guidance of the Chair.
I have always had an inclination to take on very challenging assignments.
"Since our Chair was quite open to inputs and new learnings, we grew to embrace this culture of innovation," he says. "I proposed many things, including entering into multiple asset classes, entering Mumbai and ways we could quickly churn up our assets and pursue various business strategies."
The company went on to sign numerous redevelopment projects in Mumbai, and today it represents 25 per cent of the total sales value of the company.
"I have always had an inclination to take on very challenging assignments," Rahul says. "Fortunately, in this company, I came at just the right time to get those kinds of challenges. I considered them to be opportunities and, in most cases, I delivered."
Small changes matter
Last September, Rahul was rewarded for his winning ideas and his significant contribution at the company’s township project ‘Life Republic’, with a promotion to Group CEO. After spending his first decade at the company delivering on challenging projects, he saw another challenge he could tackle as head of the company.
"Though we were doing reasonably well, both the Joint Managing Director, Yash Patil and myself believed there were further prospects that Kolte-Patil could take advantage of," he says. "We were achieving only a certain set of numbers at the group level.
"It was time for us to scale up, with a focus to do significant new business development while maintaining financial discipline."
Rahul saw an opportunity in pursuing further expansion in the three key geographical areas where Kolte-Patil is active: Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. The opportunities were especially promising in Pune, India’s seventh largest city.
If you try to improve yourself, your team and your company culture consistently, even with just small changes, that will give you results in the long-term.
"We had a very limited presence in a few micro markets in Pune, so we had a good opportunity to penetrate new territory there that would give us additional sales volumes," he says.
At the same time, he applied his philosophy of continuous improvement, lean management and lean technology while working to improve company culture and increase staff retention with incentive schemes.
"If you try to improve yourself, your team and your company culture consistently, even with just small changes, that will give you results in the long-term," he says.
Discipline and prosper
One of the changes Rahul has introduced is the creation of special business units within the company, so that different departments are empowered to make fast decisions without having to elevate every idea to the CEO – something Rahul calls "controlled independence".
"They will be responsible for leading the profit and loss for their respective projects," he says. "At the same time, there will be guidance – functional as well as business guidance – from the top team at the corporate level. I believe that will help the company to grow exponentially, rather than creating a bureaucratic culture."
For any kind of aggressive growth, your fundamentals have to be right the first time.
The results of the new leadership is already beginning to show. The company recently enjoyed its best ever annual sales and collections, a trend Rahul expects to continue. "Next year, we are gunning for aggressive growth," he says.
The company is now on track to achieve year-on-year growth of up to 25 per cent, he says. But as sales values increase, it will be vital to maintain discipline and plan ahead.
"For any kind of aggressive growth, your fundamentals have to be right the first time," Rahul says.
Thankfully, both he and his team are certain that those fundamentals are in place. "Everybody is super confident about achieving this exponential growth number," he says.