Raj Shankar is a proud leader. The Managing Director of Redington, the Chennai based supply chain solutions provider and value-added technology distributor believes that the greatness of the company is an outcome of the sum of the efforts of all its people.
Redington, a leading distributor of quality technology products, commenced its journey in 1993 when it secured its first distribution contract with Hewlett-Packard. Starting with five employees, three branches, and twenty-five dealers, it has transitioned into a large, technology-driven powerhouse, with over 6,000 employees and fifty-six subsidiaries, across twenty-four international markets, while partnering with over 200 global brands.
The company’s extensive network and go-to-market capabilities have been built painstakingly over more than twenty years. “So, when a vendor needs access to a market, Redington is often the first choice,” Raj explains.
After completing his studies at BITS Pilani, Raj spent ten years working in a variety of industries, before starting his journey with Redington. With experience of working in Hungary, Hong Kong, and Singapore in the early years, Raj has been instrumental in setting up Redington’s hugely successful operations outside India. “It has been a great journey; successfully setting up our network and establishing our presence in the emerging markets of Middle East, Africa and Turkey,” says Raj, who was appointed the Deputy Managing Director of Redington India six years ago, before stepping into his current role as the Managing Director for Redington’s India and International operations in late 2014.
Redington is a board-managed company which was listed on the Indian stock exchange in 2007. With highly qualified and knowledgeable independent directors, the company incorporates a very high level of corporate governance and prudent business practices. The board sets strategic directions while giving complete operational independence to the professional managers to execute those strategies. “The erstwhile promoters of the company do not even have a seat on the board,” explains Raj. “The system allows ‘freedom within boundaries’; you employ professionals, empower them to think and behave like an entrepreneur and they become ‘Redingtonians’.”
Raj firmly believes that it is this people focus that sets Redington apart from its competitors. While the company represents the ‘who’s who’ of global technology brands — Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, HP, and Dell — to name just a few, Rajs says that it is not the product offerings that make you stand out — it is your people. “What gives us the competitive edge is a team of top-class professionals, highly qualified and deeply committed to take on any challenge. Our people are the genuine hallmark of our company.”
Being the prime-mover of Redington’s operations overseas is a facet of Raj’s role that he has truly enjoyed. “We went into the Middle East and Africa markets long before others recognised the potential opportunity,” he says. “We have the skill to test a new market, develop a business model and turn it into a success — it is something that gives me a thrill and has been an exciting aspect of my job”.
Of course safety- and security-related risks may also suddenly develop in an emerging market. Raj cites Libya as an example. “No one thought of going into Libya eight-to-nine years ago. While it did have challenges with political uncertainties, things were not too bad at that time,” explains Raj. Unfortunately, a couple of years into our operations, war broke out and the company realised that the lives of some of its team members were at risk.
“We had expatriates living with families and the challenge was to get them out safely. It was a big ordeal, but we got them home and to safety,” says Raj. “We also ensured that they had the opportunity to continue working with us. We treasure our biggest and most valuable asset — our people”.
Despite his significant contribution, Raj refuses to take credit for the company’s success in its overseas ventures. “I have innumerable colleagues who have demonstrated a similar measure of commitment and this is what has made this company what it is today”, he says.
"It is our people who are genuinely the hallmark of our company.” – Raj Shankar
Raj strongly believes in changing with the times. “Redington has continuously transformed itself to keep up with the with the changing market dynamics and remain relevant to both its business constituents — its vendors and also its channel partners. From a single brand, single product distributor in 1993, Redington has transformed into a leading consumer and a solution-oriented distribution organisation to remain a ‘partner of choice’ in the fast evolving technology landscape,” Raj explains. Redington is working on exploiting its core competencies to expand into natural adjacencies to its current business.
One of the key differentiators for Redington has been its focus on services, delivered through Ensure Services. “For Redington, development of services capability has always gone hand-in-hand with distribution capability, both in India as well as in its international operations,” says Raj.
Its strong foundation in supply chain management being fundamental to its strength as a nation-wide distributor has led Redington to offer third-party logistics solutions and services through ProConnect, to a variety of customers across industry verticals. “3PL logistics solutions are a key growth area for us and we are investing in developing end-to-end capabilities in this area,” Raj explains.
Redington believes in delivering value to all its stakeholders — vendors, partners, employees and the shareholders. Raj says, “We take our responsibility towards everybody involved with Redington very seriously and believe that the best results are delivered when it is a win–win situation for all the stakeholders.”
The company is focused on leveraging the infrastructure it has created by offering end-to-end services.
Raj signs off by declaring, “We want to ensure that for everybody in the eco-system, Redington becomes the first choice for all their requirements.”