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Can you tell us about your background?
When Pavan Shetty completed his bachelor’s degree in Commerce in the late 1990s, he was faced with a difficult personal challenge. He had to nurse a close family member for a prolonged illness. He had to nurse a close family member for a prolonged illness. This meant full-time attention at home and not much time for further studies or to look for a job. A year went by, and though things didn’t get better on the personal front, the graduate decided it was time he found a job. Starting from a door-to-door salesman, selling newspaper subscriptions to being Lamborghini’s first hire in India, Shetty has come a long way. Now, with his latest leap, the director for Porsche India traces his professional journey.
What was your first job?
Financial Express, sales person, 1999. This job made me an extrovert. I saw an ad in the newspaper and applied. I think this was my most difficult sales (job) because there is nothing more difficult than changing a habit. I was selling from door to door and walked about eight kms every day. I did it for six months.
What did you do next?
At this point, I wished to get into banking. I joined HSBC (2000-2002) Human Resources in 2000. When I joined, I was a part of the generalist resource because I had no specialisation. By this time, I decided to do my masters. I cleared CET with 98th rank. I got through Mumbai’s Sydenham College on a merit seat. This was very important because I had to ensure that the cost of my education was not too much.
How did you get into the automobile sector?
This was my introduction to the automobile sector. I worked on tractors in Sunder Nagar, Gujarat, for over two months in between my MBA.
How was the experience working with Tata Motors?
I worked as Product Account Manager at TATA Motors from 2004-2007. On campus, like most others, I wanted to be in FMCG. When HUL came to the campus, I couldn’t utter a word. I was under stress. So, yeah, I missed it. The next day, I came back with a vengeance and wanted to crack the next company. That company was Tata Motors. My journey with Tata Motors started. Tata Motors was commercial vehicles, not cars. Commercial vehicles was really tough and I was in Mumbai, handling the biggest dealers. Some deals would be about 100 or 150 trucks. I was always on my toes.
How did you get into the consumer car segment?
I had a friend who pulled me in. Ford offered me an assignment of Regional Sales Manager in west India where for two years, I did sales and after that, both marketing and sales. It gave me exposure to cars. This customer and his expectation was different from a truck guy. Then I had a challenge in Gujarat where Ford was not the strongest. I, with the help of the team, turned it around. I worked at Ford from 2007-2012.
How did you get into the luxury car segment?
I was not too keen to move out of Mumbai at this point. There were family issues. And there were more opportunities coming from Ford Delhi than in Mumbai. Lamborghini happened through a consultant. He asked me, ‘How about a business that sells only 12-15 cars a year?’ When I went for the meeting, my jaw dropped when I heard the brand name. This gave me a chance to be a businessman without starting my own business. I was the Head, Operations (2012-2015) at Lamborghini, India. I was the first guy to be recruited and I set up everything.
What do you do at Porsche?
This was the most natural progression. Here, you are not setting up but taking it to another level. I had handled P&L, marketing, sales, PR, dealers, everything for Lamborghini. When you know it all already, where could you go next is ideally a big, but not too big, a brand, but where volumes and products to be sold are more. It just makes you stretch more.