Raj Kishore Naik: A Trailblazer Pioneering Automotive Excellence Through Leadership & Innovation | CEOInsights Vendor
Raj Kishore Naik: A Trailblazer Pioneering Automotive Excellence Through Leadership & Innovation

Raj Kishore Naik: A Trailblazer Pioneering Automotive Excellence Through Leadership & Innovation

Raj Kishore Naik,   Vice President

Raj Kishore Naik

Vice President

From guiding the company towards success by providing clear direction and ensuring operational effectiveness to creating and maintaining a positive work environment, a true leader is the one who can don multiple hats at a time. One such industry veteran is Raj Kishore Naik. Vice President at Ashok Leyland, Raj Kishore Naik is a Mechanical Engineer graduated from NIT, Rourkela in 1991. His journey began at Maruti Suzuki India, contributing significantly to engineering, homologation, and vehicle testing in the R&D department. Naik's pivotal two-year deputation to Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan further enriched his engineering prowess, notably in designing cars tailored for the Indian market and imbibing Japanese culture emphasizing quality. His career evolved at Tata Motors' Engineering Research Centre, where he led the development of India's pioneering Compact Sedan, Indigo CS. Joining the Ashok Leyland Nissan JV marked another milestone where he delved into sourcing, supply chain, and quality for defense vehicles. Naik then spearheaded manufacturing quality across all AL plants, currently heading New Parts Development and Parts Quality in the Sourcing & Supply Chain Department.

Naik's journey epitomizes a continuous pursuit of learning, experimentation, and embracing new challenges, making him an inspiring leader in the automotive industry. We engaged in a one on one interaction with Raj Kishore Naik, let’s hear from him.

Could you elaborate on the unique experiences provided by NIT Rourkela and how your time on campus went beyond academic learning?

I take immense pride in being an alumnus of NIT Rourkela, a prestigious institution ranked among the top NITs in the country. I owe a great deal of who I am and where I've reached to my alma mater.

Formerly known as REC, NIT Rourkela boasts a vast campus that's completely isolated from the city. The environment feels like a home away from home. The hostels were equipped with indoor games which provided us with entertainment beyond our studies. The quality of food served was particularly noteworthy, and our hostel days were filled with participation in various games and
sports activities. We eagerly anticipated weekend movies in our state-of-the-art auditorium. Fond memories were made celebrating festivals like Holi and Diwali with friends and faculty.

The annual Spring Festival, held in March-April, was a highly anticipated celebration. I received incredible support, assistance, and encouragement from friends who felt like family.

I consider my hostel life at NIT as the golden period of my life, where I cultivated teamwork and leadership qualities. I deeply miss those days even now.

Naik's journey epitomizes a continuous pursuit of learning, experimentation, & embracing new challenges, making him an inspiring leader in the automotive industry

How would you characterize Ashok Leyland as a corporation and its current market positioning?

Regarding my current affiliation with Ashok Leyland, it stands as an agile entity aspiring to secure a place among the top 10 Global Commercial Vehicle Players. We currently hold the leading position in India for buses and the second position for trucks. Ashok Leyland Modular Business Platform exemplifies an astute approach in the industry, tailoring vehicles according to customer preferences. We nurture young leaders through the YLP program and prioritize fostering strong relationships with suppliers, channel partners, and customers. Our recent growth trajectory has been exceptionally remarkable.

Describe your leadership approach and the principles or methodologies guiding your leadership style.

During my extensive tenure in Japan, I had the opportunity to observe a leader who meticulously navigated each phase of their professional journey.

Leadership, in my view, demands comprehensive knowledge of the work they oversee. This facilitates a clear comprehension of team objectives, enabling guidance, direction, and assuming control when necessary, thereby earning the automatic respect of subordinates.

In my leadership role, I prioritize understanding the intricacies of each team member's responsibilities. I seek out talent, individuals passionate about exploration, and possessing core competencies. Aligning their strengths with their roles ensures job satisfaction, leading to a potential doubling of team efficiency. I am a firm believer that when individuals enjoy their work, their productivity significantly
increases. Additionally, I provide unwavering support to my team during setbacks, recognizing failures as stepping stones to success.

A profound lesson learnt during my extensive tenure in Japan was the immense power of teamwork. I actively promote and prioritize teamwork, emphasizing the crucial role of integrity within the team dynamics. Aligning my team's efforts with the overarching organizational goals remains a top priority for me.

What lies ahead as your future destination?

My direct involvement in Engineering, Quality, and Sourcing, coupled with collaborative experiences in Manufacturing, Program management, Marketing & Sales across M&HCV, LCV, Passenger cars, and a brief stint in a Two-Wheeler company, has enriched my understanding within the automotive industry. This comprehensive 360-degree exposure has enabled me to identify a significant void that requires swift attention for the advancement of Component Manufacturing industries.

Throughout my observations, I've noticed that while certain organizations possess the aspiration to enhance their operations, they often lack the necessary guidance, resulting in a lack of clear vision and direction. Similarly, some Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMSEs) eager to improve in terms of quality require guidance and development. I am keenly interested in bridging this gap. My ultimate ambition remains to make substantial contributions to the automotive industry within the country.

Given your robust industry experience, what counsel would you offer to aspiring industry leaders?

In today's fast-paced landscape, there's often a desire to swiftly escalate one's career from ground zero, akin to a T20 cricket match. However, it's imperative to recognize that success doesn't arrive via a rapid elevator but through incremental steps, much like taking the stairs. I encourage young professionals to allocate more time to delve into details, enhance their core competencies, and seek out mentors or role models who can provide guidance and reshape their career trajectory. It's crucial for these budding leaders to maintain an unwavering eagerness to learn new skills, fostering a commitment to lifelong learning.

Raj Kishore Naik, Vice President, Ashok Leyland

Raj Kishore Naik, VP at Ashok Leyland, an NIT Rourkela engineering grad, holds 32+ years' auto sector experience. Led vehicle engineering teams at Maruti, Tata, pioneered India's first compact sedan, and now heads parts development and quality at Ashok Leyland.

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