Interview with Sq. Ldr. Prerana Chaturvedi, CEO, Evolet- Rissala Electric Motors

In an exclusive interview with Climate Samurai , Sq. Ldr. Prerana Chaturvedi, CEO, Evolet-Rissala Electric Motors shares about her journey as entrepreneur , challenges for woman entrepreneur and more… here is the excerpt-

Q-1: A woman entrepreneur in electric vehicle segment! Would you like to share with our readers how this journey of yours started and what propelled you to dive in this segment?  

An International Business Development Entrepreneur and a Military Aviator with 20 years of experience in Management, Business Aviation, Aerospace and Defense, Prerana transition from the cockpit to the corporate board room has been seamless and full of excitement. She is a highly experienced professional with an interesting, diverse background and brings on board REM, the same skills that stood her in good stead in the male-dominated bastion of soldiers, namely, a willingness to pioneer, the ability to identify opportunities, an unshakeable self-belief in her efforts and then resolute pursuit of goals while taking along a diverse team right through to the very end. She has perfected her modus operandi while enriching her work experience across various sectors in the corporate environment.

An alumni of IIM, Lucknow and Air Force Academy science graduate, you will find her with sleeves rolled up, toiling steadfastly with her team, bulldozing, in relentless pursuit of REM’s goals. As the CEO of Evolet, she has found true calling and created the raison de etre of the company. She is an ardent believer in the future of electric vehicles with an eye towards sustainability and is involved heart and soul in the business development of this fledgling venture. At Evolet, the aspiration is to make sure that we have a portfolio of EV products that is amicable to whatever requirements government and private users have as well. Through the last 6 months (launched in September 2019), the company has established its position as the top manufacturer in the industry, setting the new, and very tall standards for everyone. All this was executed under the active leadership of Sq Ldr Prerana Chaturvedi, who has evolved as the Elixir of Evolet, and set the vision and mission from the ground up. Prior to this engagement, she held senior management position in diverse industries from Health, Housing, Aerospace etc.

Q-2: Automobile industry has always been viewed as men’s domain, though now we see more women participating…what has been your experience and how the industry reacts seeing woman entrepreneur?  

The emerging business opportunity in the automotive sector has been one of the important driving forces for women to participate in this field. They are working on the shop floor as well as at decision making positions.  But all it takes is to excel in any profession at any level is achieving the physical and mental endurance required for that particular profession. And yes, to move up in the hierarchy, investment in terms of time, efforts, thought processes needs to be done on a bigger scale. For providing more employment to women, we have to create a safer social environment and change the mind set to promote the engagement of women in the automobile industry.

Q-3: Please share what were (are) the challenges you had to face and how did you overcome them? 

Every step along the way is a learning. If you’re passionate enough to persevere and keep going, then every failure will be a learning and you’ll eventually get to where you want to be! The automotive sector is now termed as a ‘sunrise sector’. Government’s manufacturing policy framework has played a vital role in transforming the automotive industry. This is perhaps the best time for women to invest in this segment, pursuing their career and business goal.

Q-4: Does your company have women employees too? What is the ratio of men to female employees? 

At Evolet, culture is the energy that surrounds us every day and shapes who we are and how we work. It is a human question about how we live our lives, how we define a new mutually responsible relationship between a diverse group of people, and how we ensure that this group feels welcome to express themselves and share their perspective. When we create such a culture in our workplaces, we take a big step towards making our workplaces more diverse. At Evolet, we have passionate women staff in almost all age-brackets who work on assembly lines to leadership roles and comprises of almost 35% staff.

Q-5: We have only handful of woman entrepreneurs today, what do you think can help equalize these numbers? And how long will it take to reach such a statistics? 

Yes, some at the top of the mind recall are those who are heading some of their family businesses. If we look at the composition of India’s GDP during the previous decade, then it is clearly visible that the contribution of manufacturing has the potential to rise to the next level. With the new vision for manufacturing being promoted by the Centre many more job opportunities are yet to open up for the newcomers which is expected to draw a string of talented women into the industry who will eventually make their way to leadership roles.

Q-6: What is the biggest hurdle today that is stopping a woman to be an entrepreneur? 

The underlying psyche of our society has set some unwritten rules wherein boys opt naturally for technical streams and girls for non-technical disciplines. Majority of girls choose non-technical streams during graduation and masters. Due to lesser number of women with technical expertise in the industry, there is a lower female head count at top positions. But now with changing social beliefs, more women are flocking to technical courses that in turn are expected to scale up the inflow of technically savvy women entrepreneurs at the helm of automotive companies. In the long-term many out of these will make it to the decision making profiles changing the dynamics of the industry.

Q-7: Anything you would like to say on women’s day to those women who are aspiring to become entrepreneur. 

The future augurs bright. In today’s corporate world it is all about the value addition one can bring to the table irrespective of the gender. This industry being a technical knitted one necessitates sound technical knowledge to facilitate one to climb up the hierarchical tree. In addition, a prospective candidate needs to possess extremely good people management skills as the auto sector deals with white and blue collar employees and therefore has always been a sensitive subject in manufacturing.

Q-8: It would have been quite a journey to become an entrepreneur, would you like to mention some women colleagues who have been a constant source of support and helped you reach your goal.

Entrepreneurship is a continuous learning process and it’s more important to improve and adapt along the way. Looking back at over two decades of my entrepreneurship, the journey has taught me that one has to be a fighter and not be afraid of taking risks, one need to constantly innovate and hire a team of trustworthy people. The advice has held me in good stead.

However, the best piece of advice that I received was from my mother who insisted that as a woman I must have control over my finances. This certainly affected my business decisions, including prompting me to take the entrepreneurial plunge. And now I am raising my 13 year old daughter with the same advice.

The other priceless nuggets of wisdom comes from my seniors during my defense stint, to always focus on 5 to 10 year horizon, focusing on what you can do now that can benefit the next generation.

Q-9: Finally, how the global outbreak of coronavirus is affecting Indian EV segment?  

India Inc seems to have started seeing the impact of trade disruption following the coronavirus outbreak. Companies from across sectors are sounding concerned about possible supply chain disruptions. Manufacturing companies could face production disruptions if this outbreak gets prolonged and their supply chains are not restored to normalcy soon. The ideal time for a shipment to move from the Chinese factory to the Indian factory is 36 days. Hence any supply chain disruption would be in effect after the estimated time slack. At Evolet, our current inventories remain at sufficient levels. However any elongation of the shutdown is most likely to impact us. The core import components such as electronics, chemicals, drugs, machinery, metal products and auto components that comprise over 70 per cent of total imports from China, remain highly vulnerable to the ongoing disruption in Chinese activity.