The budget has put focus on the economy once again. The brick and mortar old economy businesses need to come back into play with capacities being put to use, fresh projects taking off and pending ones wrapping up. It's the conversation of all times and places right now -- when can India return to rising growth numbers and just how can it ensure job creation. For that to happen the sparks need to come from manufacturing and core sectors. I caught up with Firdose Vandrevala, vice chairman of Essar Steel, to know about his views.
What do you make of the current steel business environment?
Challenging like a tough golf course with narrow fairways, lots of hassles, water bodies and a tricky curving greens. Demand is yet to pick up and there are cost pressures like increase in iron ore prices (in spite of international prices dropping) increase in freight, etc.
What makes you feel that there is a promising recovery coming for the economy?
There is optimism that makes a big difference with a new government with a clear majority in place, policy paralysis will be history and the economy will pick up.
What prompted you to pick up golf?
Living in Jamshedpur and avoiding golf is a difficult proposition. Working in a steel plant meant you have long hours, six days a week, and Sunday was your only day to do house work, be with family and rest. Irrespective of the time constraints I had to start playing golf because many of my friends were playing golf, and only talked about golf at dinner parties. I felt like a stranger and an outcast on these occasions. Another attraction was the sumptuous Sunday golf breakfast at the golf hut. I felt like a cheat who had the breakfast but not played. So it was more of a pull into golfing than me making a conscious decision to play golf. I am thankful and grateful to my friends who made me start.
How did the game change your business?
Golf is not about hitting a long shot by using force, so is in business. Finding the sweet spot and getting the right timing and following a process 'is the key. Golf teaches you many things -- patience, planning forgetting the bad shot previously, not assuming yesterday's success will be repeated today, and that there is no shortcut.
Did you make friends on the golf course – like who? Corporate India has plenty of people playing these days.
My current golf group in Mumbai are all friends that I have made through golf in the last five years. They include G N Bajpai, Nirmal Bhogilal, Deepak Vaidya, Dr Anand Shah, Ramesh Sobti, Mahendra Parikh, Chakor Doshi, Madhup Vaghani, Mahendra Doshi, Venky Mysore and Rajan Dalal.
Which is the golf course you learnt the game at?
Beldih Club at Jamshedpur
What's the one lesson that teaches you about yourself and your business?
Take nothing for granted. You can mess up even the simplest of shots if you do not concentrate and follow the basic principles. True in golf and true in business.