N Jaya Kumar: Epitome of Sheer Will | CEOInsights Vendor
N Jaya Kumar: Epitome of Sheer Will

N Jaya Kumar: Epitome of Sheer Will

N. Jayakumar,      CEO & MD

N. Jayakumar


The eighties brought about dramatic changes to the underpinnings of the Indian economy, either through the unanticipated consumer demand, the body-blows to the banks, the deterioration of the credit culture, and most of all, the emergence of groups that taught India to think big. Arguably, it was the decade that saw irrevocable changes in the banking system, as well as the founding of some of India's biggest companies. It was indeed a mixed bag. But the scars and opportunities of the 1980s are there for everyone to see.

Around such turbulent times, when the Indian Banking & Finance was going through some rough patch due to worrisome government policies and moves, an engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, with an MBA from IIM-A, N Jaya kumar, had just ventured into the shape shifting banking industry in India. No sooner had he arrived, he became one of the first members of the Citicorp Investment Bank in India. N Jaya, also fondly known to his colleagues as Jakes, had joined as a management trainee in 1985. He worked his way up in different roles over the course of time including being part of the money market securities division, and financial control, eventually taking charge of the corporate finance and merchant bank as the Vice President of the Citi Group in 1990. Having spent two fruitful years of beating budgets comfortably, Jakes moved on to join Prime Securities in 1992. He was appointed as the CEO in 1993. It’s been 30 years since the appointment. Jakes has led the organization through thick and thin only to become a leading provider of diversified, Investment Banking and Corporate Advisory services. Licensed
and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI), the firm is authorized to advise and arrange financial services under a Category I Merchant Banking License.

Prime Securities specializes in providing value added advice and services to clients on complex strategic and financial decisions and transactions focused around Fund Raising, Mergers & Acquisitions, Equity & Debt Private Placements, Initial Public Offerings, Corporate Advisory, and Capital Restructuring. How ever, Jaya rather describes Prime Securities as a more passionate, focused and carrying expertise, unlike the larger, diverse and well funded investment banks in the industry. With a balance between young & senior professionals on board, Prime
Securities boasts of a perfect blend of experience and youth & exuberance. More so interestingly, Prime Securities is the only corporate board with (till recently) three Independent Women Directors, all highly qualified & experienced professionals. “We believe in gender diversity and equal representation. This, along with the exuberance of youth and presence of seniors which brings experience to the table, Prime Securities has achieved significant success in the industry”, says N Jaya, CEO & Managing Director, Prime Securities.

Prime securities faced challenges to raise debt for any leverage or risk taking activity. There fore, the firm gradually moved into the advisory only position, away from capital intense operations

Multiple Solutions to Problems - Lessons for Life
Jaya himself brings tremendous experience and expertise to the table. He talks to CEO Insights about how his academic years at the B School shaped his perception to problems and his decision making skills in a situation. Humbly Jakes expresses, “I think management, at the end of the day, has a lot to do with what I would call the approach to problem solving across various situations. It encompasses everything, from the human aspect, interpersonal relationships, to project management. So there are multiple skills that are brought to bear, and it’s not like one particular challenge has only one specific solution. I think the ability to look at a problem, and then put together multiple possible solutions, is really the biggest lesson I learnt in my days pursuing an MBA”.

He further adds, about his years at IIM (A), “More importantly, it was like a melting pot, where you met people from all walks of life. People, who had excelled in commerce or sociology or mathematics, were all there to share experiences. It is a truly humbling experience where you realize there are others with multiple skills, who are a lot smarter than you. I think one of the first things that you learn at B Schools, like in the IIMs, is that, in life, you will never have all the answers to any problem, or any situation. Instead, what you really need to know is whom to approach, to get the solutions to those problems”.

Prime Securities’ Legacy of Three Decades
Prime Securities was promoted by The Great Eastern Shipping
Company in 1991, but exited around 1997. Jaya came on-board in 1993, as the CEO. In 1994, the firm went public and the financials were reported as ‘zero promoters holding’ company, that is professionally run & managed by an independent board. Unlike today, when raising capital for an organization with no promoter is easier, Prime Securities faced challenges to raise debt for any leverage or risk taking activity. There fore, the firm gradually moved into the advisory only position, away from capital intense operations.

Prime Securities now defines the business as RoI (Return on Intellectual Property) and RoNW (Return on Net Worth). In other words, Prime Securities uses its intellectual property that is its structuring skills and its network in the marketplace, to make deals happen. This in turn, leads to a corollary in the firm earning fees. “Money needs to be an output, not an input to make things happen, that's the quintessential learning”, adds Jakes. Over the span of 30 years, Prime Securities has maintained its independence. According to Jaya’s assessment Prime Securities has a whole host of friends and professional acquaintances it has worked with, that have helped and also shaped the organization. Thus, the network, one has developed be it as a result of the IIMA or IIT Delhi circuits or the professional world that one operates in, has been largely responsible for the kind of deals Prime has made and the consequent longevity it has enjoyed.

Prime Securities, as an organization, has led with examples in terms of sustainable growth. Jaya ensured that every individual in the firm is aligned or in agreement with the direction being taken. Everybody has been a part of the journey, which as Jakes mentions, is ‘hugely satisfying’. This is how the firm made it through 30 years of ups & downs, with head held high, and foot on the ground. Should a historian pen down the history of capital markets over these three decades, Prime Securities should be a humble part of that piece of literature.

To be Dispensable
N Jaya intends to become a ‘dispensable’ leader, rather than an indispensable one. While the pandemic has redefined longevity, organizations really need to move beyond individuals, founders, promoters, and many. As a professional CEO, Jaya defines dispensability as the ability to move on. Also, as the head of Prime Securities, the CEO aims to hire more young talent in order to tackle the cut-throat competition of raising money for startups. “We are geared towards making ourselves younger, more nimble, and far more flexible in this ever-changing world”, concludes Jaya.

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