Corporate Leader: MD & CEO Ramesh V – MF Utilities India Pvt Ltd, AMP 2008

Mr Ramesh V started his career at the tender age of 18 when he reached Mumbai with nothing but his undying positive attitude and determination to excel. He is a strong believer in learning as a continuous journey. He has climbed up the corporate ladder with sheer hard work and dedication. In this interview with LSquare he shares his life experiences and much more.

Can you please tell us something about yourself?

I was born in a very small hamlet in Kerala called Kavalappara near Shoranur and did my schooling in Dindigul (from 5th Standard). We grew up with limited resources and very little money to spare on luxuries. Education was the only focus area in our household. After completing my PUC in 1979, I moved to Bombay(Mumbai) looking for work in order to be able to support my family. I was just 18 years old at the time with language limitations and inhibitions that come with young age. I trained myself, over time, to overcome these challenges and making the best out of situations.

How were your early working years?

I got my first job as an assistant at 18 in an accountancy firm in Mumbai. I worked in many companies over the years whilst I did my graduation from Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala Arts & Science (evening) College, Mumbai. I worked in the daytime and took classes in the evening.

On the work front, my first big break came in 1984 when I joined Canara Bank. My manager was very encouraging and supportive, he advised me to join the private sector as career and professional growth were higher in the private sector at the time.

My family and friends thought that quitting a PSU was a bad idea given the guarantee and security of a govt job. But I kept trying as I had a strong feeling that mutual funds was a sunrise industry with immense growth opportunity and finally joined GIC Asset Management Company in 1991. I got a lot of exposure at GIC in terms of marketing, sales, customer service, compliance as it was a small setup and we ended up doing everything. This gave me a holistic view of how the mutual funds market works in principle. It also lay the foundation for me on how an organization should work and function.

One major takeaway from my experience in different places taught me to accept all situations and circumstances. I saw it as – if it is coming your way, you are destined to face it. Hence I learned not to say no to any tasks or responsibilities that came my way. This may not help you directly or straight away but in the long run, it always pays off. This has helped me immensely as a life lesson.

Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial venture – Ecomove?

As a part of our AMP course, we visited Barcelona for a student exchange program where I first came across the concept of Bicycle sharing. I thought it was a tremendous idea for a developing country like India. It was environment friendly, easy on the pocket and was a perfect solution for the lack of availability of public transport. I quit my job and started Ecomove with a friend and did a pilot run from Thane Mumbai. Ecomove was the first of its kind venture in India but sadly we could not sustain it. The idea was ahead of its time. It is much feasible to run the same idea today than it was 10 years ago given the advancement in technology and customer awareness.

Can you tell us more about MF Utilities India Pvt Ltd and its unique offering.

After Ecomove, I went back to join the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) as Deputy CEO. There we came across this idea to create a common platform for people to transact. This was a system by the industry for the industry. I took it up as a personal responsibility/ project to be able to create something unique yet being a sustainable solution. That was how MF Utilities India Pvt Ltd was launched in April 2014 and I have been heading it since. It’s a one of its kind solution giving end-users a lot of flexibility and freedom to be able to invest.

MFU is a very simple system where an individual only needs to create an account/log in to be able to invest in any mutual funds of choice. And if you are a distributor, you need access credentials from MFU to be able to invest on behalf of the clients. MFU gives you the flexibility to be able to invest in any mutual funds without creating separate accounts or login thereby making it very convenient.

MFU now boasts of doing a business of 10-15k crores on a normal day with leading companies and personalities as end users.

How has Covid impacted the business and what good/ bad has come out of it?

We had already been working on a new company policy which allowed employees to work from home for at least a month in a year as an employee-friendly measure. We wanted to implement this in April 2020 but due to the lockdown, we went into implementing it sooner. As we were already prepared, the transition was smooth and we as an company continued to function normally.

During the lockdown phase, we saw a 40% rise in transactions and we continued to function effectively in terms of complaint resolution, processing, etc. We are now looking to rework the company policy on making this structure of work from home a more permanent solution.

Having said that, WFH is a great option when it comes to routine office activities but we are yet not mentally equipped to be able to innovate and brainstorm using online means. There’s a lag that comes with things going virtual which I am positive we will be to adapt & improve in the near future as the new working norms.

Business sectors in your opinion that will do well in the coming years?

In my view, IT, Health and the education sector should do well in the coming times. The education sector is transforming adopting newer technologies and innovations making its reach larger.

Tell us about your family.

We are a small family. I have two daughters. My wife works at Canara Bank. My elder daughter has completed CA, CFA and is now pursuing her MBA at Stern Business School, USA. My younger daughter has done her post-graduation from US in Media Entertainment Technology and is working in SFO.

What hobbies do you like to pursue in your spare time?

I was introduced to dramatics by a colleague at Canara bank and that has kind of stuck with me. I have been associated with the Bombay Cultural Association since 1984 and have acted in many dramas and stage performances. In 2013, I landed a role in a Tamil movie called Thalaivaa and acted in the movie Devi in 2015. I have also played parts in Hindi movies – Chalk N Duster (2019) and a short film – Mission Mars directed by Imran Khan.

Mission Mars Keep Walking India

What have been your key takeaway from your learnings at IIMB?

IIMB was a great opportunity for me to learn. I cannot equate my experience at IIMB to anything specifically but can say that this learning has inculcated deeply within my mind and system and it helps me at the right time when taking crucial decisions and laying a strong framework.

Any fond memories from your IIMB days?

While my entire experience at IIMB has been extremely fond and memorable. I remember one particular incident which is kind of bittersweet. As a part of the course project, I had submitted an idea for a website providing a comparison among life insurance policies. I didn’t pursue this business idea and later another company launched a similar idea have done very well.

I recall having lengthy, interesting discussions and brainstorming sessions with the faculty members and other batchmates. I really enjoyed our course sessions with Prof Shainesh, Prof Vasanti and Prof Narasimhan.

IIMB is a great institute and its offering in terms of courses, infrastructure and culture sets it apart as a premier institute. What I particularly appreciate about the institute is that it has maintained a lush green environment, making it an ideal place for an individual to pursue research and higher studies.