May 18
NV Venkatasubramanian - Unrelenting Spirit
NV Venkatasubramanian - Unrelenting Spirit
N.V. Venkatasubramanian or NVV as he’s fondly called, learnt early in his life about the virtues of perseverance. To not give up easily when things didn’t go according to plan at first. After securing a state-rank when he still could not get into an engineering college of his choice in his home-state of Tamil Nadu, he left for Gujarat to study at REC Surat (now Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology). Similarly, when he graduated with a BE in Mechanical Engineering in 1982 and could not get into L&T, the company he had his sights trained on for years, he bided his time - a good five years - and went through two jobs before finally realizing his dream.

It’s an attribute that has stuck with NVV. His ability to see past the early obstacles and take the long view on things have helped both him and the business he leads today. Starting out in 1987 as a sales engineer in L&T’s Valves business unit in Vizag, NVV’s early years were filled with challenges. His assignments kept him constantly on the move as he excelled in a variety of roles, across different functions including marketing and operations. Spotted early, he was among the first candidates chosen for the Company’s Management Leadership Programme (MLP).
NVV’s big break came in 2004, when he was deputed to Audco India Ltd (AIL) to lead its Innovative Manufacturing Operations. A 50:50 joint venture between Flowserve and L&T, AIL manufactured the valves which L&T marketed and sold. After introducing a series of improvement measures across AIL’s manufacturing processes, and heading its Maraimalai Nagar and Kanchipuram plants, in 2009 NVV was appointed as Chief Executive of AIL. Four years later, when L&T acquired AIL and integrated it with its valves manufacturing and marketing operations to create L&T Valves Limited, NVV was appointed as the Chief Executive of the new entity.

Today, L&T Valves is the largest valve company in India and a key player in the international space. Under NVV’s watch the company has grown in terms of product portfolio and geographical coverage. With presence across all the major sectors including oil & gas, power (including nuclear power), defense and aerospace, the business boasts of an enviable list of customers. Exporting to foreign markets since the 80s, L&T Valves is  approved by the biggest names in oil & gas and power.  According to NVV, thousands of L&T valves are currently in operation in offshore and onshore projects, refineries, and petrochemical complexes in geographies including the US, Europe and the Middle-East.
At its manufacturing facilities in Coimbatore and Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, L&T Valves produces an array of flow control solutions including Gate, Globe & Check Valves; Valves for Power; Trunnion-mounted Ball Valves; Process Ball Valves; Triple-offset Butterfly Valves; Flanged & Wafer-type Butterfly Valves and customized solutions for Nuclear, Defence, and Aerospace. The facilities, certified as per the highest international standards of quality and safety, address requirements of customers from across the globe.

NVV’s years of interacting with customers in the early stages of his career inform his leadership philosophy. With his mind fixed permanently on the future and the trends shaping the market, he in the last few years has been focused on two main themes viz., modernization of his plants and processes and product development. A ‘smart factory’ vision is currently in the works and he, using digitalization, is attempting to turn the manufacturing process at the plants leaner and more efficient.

Digitalization is being employed at L&T Valves not only to streamline manufacturing processes, shop floor practices, documentation and traceability but also to make the products smarter, says NVV. He says that by integrating sensors and other instrumentation in a manner which can allow customers to plan preventative maintenance of a valve will be invaluable to them from a reliability point of view.
Additionally, on the product development front, L&T Valves is strengthening its product portfolio with newer products and systems such as the High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS) using in-house capabilities. With emission and  safety norms becoming more and more stringent and venting of gases and other discharge into the atmosphere becoming increasingly unviable, HIPPS offers customers a safety instrumented system (SIS) designed to protect oil and gas production, refining and pipeline systems against a catastrophic over-pressurisation.

It’s all part of a strategy to move away from simply supplying valves to supplying flow-control solutions that add value. The idea was expanded as the company’s corporate vision a few months ago – To Make L&T Valves the Most Trusted Valves Company in the World.

Another way in which the Company plans on doing this is by establishing a physical presence in places where there’s a sizeable valve population. Its Jamnagar Service Centre where it not only services its own but also competitor valves is an example of this. Besides, plans are afoot to set up a captive manufacturing location in Saudi Arabia where there’s a large customer base and the opportunity to grow.

Speaking of growth, NVV believes that teamwork holds the key to the organizational success and that everyone, regardless of where he or she is on the hierarchy, plays a part. To this end, he encourages participation from his people and as a leader urges his team and colleagues to pitch in with their ideas. Having started his career as a sales engineer, NVV realizes how important it is for people to be able to approach senior management and freely share their points of view.

He fondly recalls how the mentorship he received as a young sales engineer from some of his managers, the support of his colleagues in his later years the lessons learnt in the company of Group Chairman Mr. A.M. Naik (to whom he reported for the last three years) shaped his worldview and professional acumen. His growth was not just within L&T where in addition to being a director of L&T Valves he sits on the Boards of LTCEL and L&T Kobelco, but also in the valve industry where he received recognition as Chairman of CII’s Valves & Actuators Division and Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (TN Branch). NVV says he is extremely fortunate to have lived his dream.

L&T was well worth the wait!

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