Expert Insights: Eli Hamacher | Freelance business journalist

Published in July 2018

The importance of personal relationships:

Skilled and relaxed, two managers portray how well they work together. Mr. Jörn Schmersahl the CEO of Air & Ocean Europe at Rhenus Logistics (Division of Rethmann Group) and Mr. Vivek Arya, Managing Director at Rhenus Logistics India quickly prove that a German and an Indian manager can work together as a good team. Two people who understand and respect each other’s business styles, cultures and the chemistry is just right. Together, their companies, both third-generation family businesses, entered into a joint venture in August 2010. And they have been an excellent example of a successful partnership ever since.

In the past, many European-Indian joint ventures have caused the European management sleepless nights – sometimes diminishing European commitment towards the world’s seventh largest economy. The refreshing example of the joint venture between Rhenus and Arya was one highlight on a hot June day of what can be achieved with India in a successful partnership.

Both sides attach a great deal of importance to building personal relationships. Rethmann employees regularly go to India, while Indian Managers visit German locations. The “ambassadors”, as Schmersahl calls them, promote intercultural understanding. Without insights from these ambassadors, a successful collaboration would not be possible.

Schmersahl and his Indian colleague Arya, offer logistics services for transports by road, rail, ship and air as well as warehousing through their Indian joint venture, and they have a positive track record for the eight years since the foundation of their partnership. The number of employees has tripled to 1,300, sales have increased eightfold and warehouse capacity has increased threefold. The two managers cite the strategic fit of the Rethmann and Arya families, the long-term focus of the partnership, and their trust and their respective strengths: the Aryas’ have local market expertise, the Rethmanns’ have contributed to their international network.

Improvise to succeed:

“India works emotionally”, Christine Rudolph of Audi stated.  Ms Rudolph is responsible for developing business in India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. The daily uncertainties often test Europeans. For example, Ms Rudolph pointed out that despite all the progress made on the Ease of Doing Business Index, India is still 181th out of 190 places in building permits and 164th in enforcing contracts. Without “Jugaad” (the Hindi term which encapsulates the intrinsic culture of spontaneous innovation in India), many a project could not have been implemented.

“Use the opportunities in adverse circumstances, find efficient and meaningful solutions, improvise instead of strive for perfection, these are important Jugaad principles,” explained Ms Rudolph, who went on to detail how Audi implements Jugaad. With 40 showrooms, the carmaker is now represented nationwide in Tier 1 and many Tier 2 cities. For other Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, the company takes a different approach. If the customer cannot come to a showroom, then the showroom comes to the customer. A truck converted into a mobile showroom drives across cities and display the latest models.

These key experiences were shared during India Day in Köln, Germany 2018.  India business expert Maier+Vidorno, law firm Luther and the Sparkasse Finance Group invited a successful mix of 150+ representatives from the industry to Köln’s Rhein Energy Stadium for the 9th India Day in June, 2018 to discuss key factors for business success in India. Experts shared their experiences on how to be successful in business in India.

The day gave small and medium sized businesses deep insight into a country that all experts agree on: you either love it or you hate it but India is too big a market to ignore. Like many entrepreneurs, managers from Rhenus and Audi are convinced of the great growth potential of India and the importance of building strong personal relationships & improvising to achieve business success in India.

India market entry expert Maier+Vidorno has supported more than 1200 companies for almost 20 years in being successful in India. With experts in inter-cultural management, business operations, and industry, we have been able to provide realistic & strategic business plans for new entrants in the Indian market.

Want to know more about the potential of your products & services in India or options for investing in India? Contact out consultants!