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Pole position: Shrikant Joshi

Shrikant Joshi

Under the leadership of Shrikant Joshi, L&T Realty has won an impressive 90-plus award. What’s even more incredible is that he has been CEO and Managing Director of the real estate arm of Indian engineering giant Larsen & Toubro for eight years, and prior to joining L&T Realty he had only worked for one other real estate company.

Shrikant Joshi

However, Shrikant insists that the same business and leadership skills are required regardless of the industry you’re working in. He believes the fact that he hasn’t always worked in real estate has helped rather than hindered him.

“Actually, it’s an advantage to have experiences in other industries, because it gives me a different perspective,” he says. “And, of course, people management is a continuous arc that is pretty much the same in all industries.”

Over the past three decades, Shrikant has held senior management positions in a wide range of companies, including Wipro, Heinz, Philips and Sify. “I have worked for Indian national and multinational companies, and none of them took any short-term views,” he says. “It’s so important to have a long-term view and look at the big picture, which is what we do at L&T Realty as well. All of these businesses are also leaders in their space, like L&T Realty.

“To be a great leader, what are the attributes you require?,” he continues. “Training and development of employees, setting benchmarks, and implementing innovative and breakthrough processes. This is what each of these companies has helped me to learn, and I have put these skills to good use here at L&T Realty.

“As human beings, we learn from our surroundings and what we do, and each of the roles I’ve had has taught me something different. For example, Wipro is just as ethical as L&T and it also has great business processes. At that time, we were one of the largest computer and software businesses in the country, which helps me to understand digitisation.

Philips has some of the best business processes in the world. And at Sify, also a technology company, we launched new services and offerings extremely fast. In all of these businesses, we worked very, very hard on quality and service excellence, which is equally important in real estate.”

Founded in 2010, L&T Realty is the real estate arm of Larsen & Toubro (L&T), a major Indian conglomerate with a global presence. Over the past eight decades, L&T has built up a reputation for delivering a high level of service to customers in more than 30 countries, as well as delivering world-class quality and expertise in technology, engineering, construction, manufacturing and financial services.

Shrikant believes the legacy of delivering high-quality services and products is what puts L&T Realty ahead of its competitors. “We are known for keeping our commitments to partners, stakeholders and customers without exception,” he says. “That’s our hallmark and it’s a fundamental part of our success. We are built on a lineage of performance and trust.

“We are known for keeping our commitments to partners, stakeholders and customers without exception.”

If you ask any of our customers how they perceive L&T Realty, they will say we’re a highly trusted brand. They believe that what we are doing is right, we will not do anything wrong and our quality will always be the best. These are our key fundamental differentiators.”

Just last year, L&T Realty was named the Most Trusted Brand in Real Estate at the Hindustan Times Real Estate Awards, which is testament to the company’s strong reputation in the marketplace.

“We want to delight the customer at each touchpoint whenever he or she contacts the company,” Shrikant says. “That’s one of our goals.”

L&T Realty conducts regular customer satisfaction surveys to ensure it maintains this high level of service. “These are done by independent research agencies. We do the surveys at different points along each customer’s journey – when they come to our sale centres, when they buy one of our properties, during the process of their purchase and handover, as well as after the sale is finalised. We get this data periodically and we use it to work out how to improve these matrices on a continuous basis.”

There’s also a strong focus on quality at L&T Realty. “We want to make the construction process faster, while maintaining the quality of our developments,” Shrikant explains. “We have our own internal benchmarks on quality. Each site goes through very rigorous quality checks, and they get marked on quality, safety, health and environmental issues. We examine this data on a monthly basis.

Shrikant Joshi

It’s a rigorous process and our team is very dedicated to making it happen. Aside from that, we have a big focus on people and need to continue to develop our team to meet these challenges.” Although L&T Realty was founded in 2010, Shrikant says most of the company’s growth occurred after 2011. L&T’s Group Chairman, A M Naik, took direct charge as L&T Realty Chairman and gave the direction and support with larger ambition.

“We changed our strategy to focus on large-scale, mixed-use developments. Over the years, we have completed some of the best residential projects and shopping malls in the country, as well as a lot of office complexes. We have also completed two hotels, the Hyatt Regency in Chandigarh and Taj Bangalore.

Now, we mostly do large-scale projects, which are over two or three million square feet, in large cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.” L&T Realty has also had a great deal of success with transit-oriented developments (TOD) and Shrikant believes this will be a growth area in the future.

“We worked on India’s first and largest TOD, Seawoods Residences in Navi Mumbai,” he says. We are currently developing another one in Hyderabad. In that city, we are building the metro and along that route we are developing almost 19 million square feet as a TOD.”

L&T Realty’s edge over its competitors lies in the fact that it is a trusted brand, all services (including construction) are in-house and it has a strong balance sheet. “Our construction partner is an in-house company, but it’s a separate entity,” Shrikant points out.

“We involve them, along with our many international architects and designers, very early in the design process. For example, when we work on office development projects for big firms like Sanofi or JP Morgan, they are part of the design process – the architect, consultants, our construction partner and our suppliers.

So, our partnership starts way before the construction begins, at the design stage. Their input helps us to optimise the desigto make the construction better for the end customer. During the construction journey, we all work together on innovation and testing new products, processes and materials.”

By collaborating with business partners and suppliers, Shrikant says L&T Realty is able to improve the quality of its developments. He says joint ventures also help the company to deliver quality projects in a short timeframe. “Our business partners in joint ventures bring lots of expertise to the table to get the project off the ground faster,” he notes.

“We also have great relationships with many of our brokers. Recently, when we launched our Seawoods project, we received close to 1,800 applicants for our residential apartments without a single advertisement. These are the advantages we get when we work with our partners.”

Shrikant says there have been many positive changes in the real estate industry since he joined L&T Realty in 2011, including the introduction of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 (RERA).

“The real estate industry is in a very big phase of consolidation, which gives strong brands like ours a great chance to be in pole position.”

“Back then, the sector had a lot of developers, but it was known for its non-professional environment and unfulfilled deliveries,” he says. “However, with a brand like Larsen & Toubro, it was always possible to set a new benchmark in terms of quality, design and delivery, which is what our customers expect from us.

India has had extremely positive environmental legal framework changes in the past three to four years. We now have RERA, which was needed to clean up the industry, as well as many other legal judgements that have favoured the customer. The real estate industry is in a very big phase of consolidation, which gives strong brands like ours a great chance to be in pole position.

Shrikant Joshi

“So, in this consolidation phase, we will continue to focus on our residential portfolio as well as our commercial portfolio, and we are looking to grow aggressively through joint ventures with credible partners in our chosen markets of Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.”

Reflecting on L&T Realty’s growth over the past eight years, Shrikant says its parent company’s strong ethical values and professional standards together with continuous encouragement from L&T’s Group Chairman has played a large role in its success. “Right from the beginning, Larsen & Toubro had everything you could need to change the sector, which is exactly what we ended up doing,” he says.

“Very early in the game, after only three or four years, we became one of the most admired organisations in the real estate space today. Our goal is to be is the most respected real estate developer in the country. We also do a lot of work on sustainability and CSR, which is a big area for us.

So wherever we have a project, we make sure that we develop it sustainably and help the communities around that project. That’s very important to us.”

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