08 October 2002
Meet Sulajja Firodia Motwani, joint managing director, Kinetic Engineering, and director, Kinetic Motors (www.kineticindia.com), who does a neat fast volley at Q&A sessions, just like she used to on the Maharashtra state badminton circuit during her younger days. “Sports taught me to treat both success and defeat with equal importance,“ says this marketing and finance MBA.
The nimble-footed Motwani, 32, applies what she has learnt on the badminton courts in spearheading the group. The two-wheeler business of the Kinetic group is divided between Kinetic Motor Company (manufacturing and selling scooters and scooterettes) and Kinetic Engineering Company (making motorcycles and mopeds). Known primarily as a two-product group — Luna, the moped, and Kinetic, the ungeared scooter — the past five years has seen drastic changes for it.
And Motwani was at the thick of it all ever since she joined the business in 1996. Born into a business family — grandfather H K Firodia started Kinetic Engineering and father Arun Firodia founded the Kinetic group — Motwani is the second of Arun's four offspring. Elder sister Kimaya is settled in the US, while younger sister Vismaya, an engineering graduate, looks after the group's exports and public relations. Brother Ajinkya is working in the US.
Armed with a management degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, Motwani joined Barra International, California, an investment consultancy firm. Four years with Barra gave her an exposure to finance. This was also the time she met and married Manish Motwani, who was with Sun Microsystems. The two, though alike, are different too. “He is calm and balanced, while I am hyperactive. Further, I like to socialise while he is a reserved homebird. But we're both family-oriented and enjoy similar things.“
On returning to India, Motwani joined her father's business while Manish started his own computer monitor manufacturing unit. A year later she took charge as joint managing director of Kinetic Motors. Besides the severe competition, the decision of Honda Motor Company, the joint venture partner for Kinetic Honda Motors rolling out the popular Kinetic Honda scooters, to go it alone was a jolt.