News Stories · Sustainability

Purpose, philosophy and poetry: how Mahindra’s R. Dubey improves the lives of others

Rajeev Dubey, Group President (HR & Corporate Services) and CEO (After-Market Sector) and Member of the Group Executive Board at Mahindra & Mahindra tells IMD’s Thomas Malnight that profit is a by-product of fulfilling the company’s higher purpose.
January 2020
 - IMD Business School

Rajeev Dubey likes to think big. And he wants to make an impact.

In his leadership role at the Mahindra Group, Dubey is motivated by nothing less than “to drive positive change in the lives of anyone that I come in contact with and to do that in the context of a larger goal and a larger purpose.”

This is also what his employer strives to do. The Mahindra Group, a Mumbai-based federation of companies that holds a leadership position in the sectors of utility vehicles, information technology, financial services and vacation ownership in India, has joined a growing number of multinationals to actively place purpose at the core of their business.

And while it may seem unusual for a company best-known for making cars and tractors to be so focused on purpose and improving the lives of others, to Dubey it makes total sense.

“I can honestly say that our company’s purpose is to improve the lives of people, especially the ones at the bottom of the pyramid,” he says in an interview with IMD Professor of Strategy and General Management, Thomas Malnight.

Positive vibes

To Dubey and his employer, profit is a by-product of the problem-solving process.

“The most important questions are: What problem are we seeking to solve, and for whom? And can we do that in a way that generates surplus, where benefit / revenue is greater than cost?

“If, in the pursuit of return on capital, we forget our purpose – even if we do well for a short period of time – I would be very disappointed.”

Dubey is a leader who exudes positivity. Even when mistakes happen, he says, he will remain focused on how he can give feedback to make executives feel motivated.

“Life is a continuum of ‘nows’,” he explains. “If we can make each of those ‘nows’ meaningful, energizing, uplifting, then you can create a very powerful life, a very powerful experience and a very powerful company.”

The Mahindra Group is, Dubey continues, driven by a philosophy created by the founding family called ‘Rise’. This philosophy is a way of defining oneself, and is the guiding energy for the Group’s decision-making processes.

“Rise is about driving positive change,” he says. “The Rise pillars are three views of the world. They are: ‘Accept no limits, Alternative thinking, and driving Positive Change in the lives of stakeholders and communities to enable them to Rise.”

 “A dream come true”

Dubey, who has only worked for two business groups in his professional life, stresses the need to find an employer who shares your values and outlook on life.

“The most important thing for me when I changed jobs, was what kind of leader I would be working with and what the organizational values and culture would be,” he says. “Mahindra surpassed expectations on all three counts. The purpose, the philosophy, the poetry, was all put up front. That to me was a dream come true.”

Working at the Mahindra Group has also shown Dubey that it is possible to be driven by purpose and create positive change while simultaneously building a great and profitable business, a trend he hopes to see continuing.

“If this torch that has been lit of driving positive change, truth, compassion and, above all, service, is kept alive and becomes a bigger and bigger fire, I would be thrilled,” he says.