S. Gopu: Chairman and Managing Director, ITI Limited

Chairman and Managing Director, ITI Limited

An engineering graduate with a postgraduate degree in operations research, S. Gopu joined telecom manufacturer ITI in 1982 as assistant executive engineer. Last year, he took over as CMD. During this period, he has been exposed first-hand to virtually every job in the firm, from manufacturing and technology to marketing and human resources and, naturally, to how the company’s main Palakkad plant works.

When he took over as the unit head of the plant, the company’s efforts to maintain excellence were being challenged on many fronts. “As the unit head, I had to get the work done by my subordinate managers, sustain the pressure from the vibrant unions on their charter of demands and yet never miss the targets given by the corporate management. The worst was that I had to face the complicated corporate management. Despite all these 360 degree challenges, the Palakkad plant excelled in performance during my tenure,” he says. It was also his most memorable assignment he adds.

His current responsibility is to see that the company continues on the profitable path that it is on of late and wins substantial orders. Financial stability is the top priority. “After being sick for 16 years, ITI was able to turn around from a loss-making company to a profit-making one, owing to timely decision-making, prudent financial measures and proactive business initiatives,” he says.

As for Gopu’s own strengths, these are his passion for working at ITI, his self-motivation (“since I lost my father at an early age, I had to struggle, so ‘never give up, keep fighting’ has been my motto”), the ability to think out of the box, timely follow-up of tasks at hand, and a capacity to handle tough trade union issues. “As CMD, I believe in delegating work and responsibilities rather than micro-managing. However, whenever there are difficult challenges, I plunge into situations and take the lead in handling them. In this way, the junior staff can learn to handle situations themselves subsequently,” he says.

Gopu went to a municipal school and graduated from the prestigious University of Madras (A.C. College of Technology) in chemical engineering. For his postgraduation in operations research, he went to the College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai.

Work often spills over to after he gets home. His family is by now used to this routine, though they don’t always accept it without protest. When not working, Gopu enjoys visiting temples among other places of interest.