Friday, April 9, 2010

A profile on ME ! :-)

So this post is easy ...... my friend Kiran has done it for me :-)

So in the name of self promotion, here is a link and below the profile written on me !

Profile on Binatone's Sunil Lalvani

Sunil Lalvani's quiet personality mixed with his sober, yet tasteful dressing, doesn't exactly scream "look at me" and Sunil likes to keep it that way. I've known Sunil's wife Reena for a few years now, and while her chatty disposition and sense of humour ensured that we became good friends almost immediately, Sunil for me remained just that- Reena's husband. When I joined YPO (Young Presidents Organization) is when I started seeing more of him, and then discovered our shared passion for gadgets. It is then I noticed, that when you get Sunil talking, REALLY talking (tell him you're an Apple fan and that should do the trick) is when you find out, shy and "proper" demeanor aside, is a man who is fiercely intelligent and incredibly witty.

Sunil is the MD of Binatone, a family owned Conglomerate, for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Founded in the UK in the 1950's by his father and his Uncle, Partap and Gulu Lalvani, Binatone has grown into a global player and a force to be reckoned with in the Home Appliances sector of the market. While Sunil and his immediate family in the business (including his father and his Hong Kong-based brother, Anish) are extremely low profile almost to a fault, (I was tempted to give him a few tips on his company PR after doing a quick google search on the same) his extended family are anything but. Rumours were abuzz during Princess Diana's lifetime, of her alleged affair with Sunil's Uncle, Gulu (as is also touched upon in the book, "Diana Chronicles") whose own son has been thereafter linked with Paris Hilton, and whose daughter was a successful restaurateur who set up, and subsequently sold, the famous eatery Zuma in London. The company Binatone was itself named by the brothers after their sister, Bina Ramani, whose daughter Malini, has now famously followed in her fashionable mother's footsteps. While his family members are no stranger to the public eye, reclusive Sunil prefers to live a quiet, yet luxurious life, with his Aston Martin DB9 being the only visible sign of "flash" to his otherwise subtle lifestyle choices. Sunil recently even celebrated his 40th birthday in Dubai, and instead of having a massive Dubai-style OTT bash, chose the company of a handful of close friends, a few who had flown in from different parts of the world, for an extravagant 3 day celebration. At the final dinner, Sunil went around the table saying a few short words about each person in attendance, and I was surprised to learn that most have grown up with him and known him almost all his life. His friends likewise, gave him glowing tributes and I could tell shared my own view of him. Honest, trustworthy, sharp and extremely witty are what makes Sunil, along with his wife Reena, part of the small group of my most favourite people in Dubai, and Sunil an obvious pick for being the second person I chose to profile for my blog.

-My most favourite product of Binatone is... The magic Thermo Control kettle – a classic product in our range that has been selling successfully around the world for 10 years and still going strong. In its current form it has a patented light system! Its difficult to get excited about such a mundane everyday product such as a kettle, but this was truly inspirational and led the way to a lot of creative product thinking within the company!

- The product I wished Binatone made is... that’s a hard one, but I would have to say the Bugatti kettle. Through a partnership we have with Bugatti, they approached us with a design, and we engineered it and put in all the technology and found the contract manufacturer for the product and supervise all production ….. but it doesn’t sell under our brand. I know what it cost to develop, I know what it costs to manufacture each unit, and I know what price they sell it for !!!!! That is something to strive for.

- I fancy Steve Jobs because... I cant believe you are forcing me to say this ! As much as I don’t like Apple – not because of the products so much, but because I don’t like the cult following they have, BUT ……. I think Steve Jobs understands customers and customer needs like no other. He is uncompromising in his execution of products and I admire that hugely. As much as I hate to admit it, Apple and their products are mentioned in every product, marketing and strategy discussion I ever have internally!

- If I didn't drive a DB9, I'd have chosen a... a DB9 ! Seriously, I am stuck with this car, because I cant think what to change it for. It is sublime! Beautiful to look at, to listen to drive. It is theatre each time you go for a drive - from the moment you start the engine, through the engine blips on the down shifts, and all the way to its ability to cruise like a luxury saloon when you just want to relax. Its as near to perfection as you can get in a motor vehicle.
Having said that ...... I think the Alfa 8C is simply the most stunning looking car I have ever seen, and came close to buying it…. but Mr.Clarkson gave it a terrible review as a drivers car (despite it terrific lungs), so I didn’t go for it ! I love the Fiat 500 Abarth – If I lived in Europe and had to pick a “practical” car, this would be it – superb execution of “retro design” inside and out !

- My next gadget purchase will be... The Que Pro Reader – an e-reader that (for me) finally has a practical purpose. I am diligent in carrying meeting notes with me on my travels so that I am up to date with information whenever I meet or speak to any of my Country Managers – this neat device is going to save my back and drop 3kgs of papers that I now always carry with me!

- My favourite holiday destination is... with the family, off the beaten track and as far and as wide as possible! We love to go to new places and avoid the ordinary! The rain forest in Borneo, touring Switzerland, Osaka, Russia and Sweden are some examples

- The next thing I plan to implement at work is... discipline to stop selling “me too” products. I strive for creativity in the business, whether it is products or business processes. I hate to see that sometimes we make compromises in our product range because we lack the initiative to come out with a differentiated product in a certain category. We are getting there, but have not reached there yet …. and when we do, we will strive to differentiate and innovate further !

- My favourite book is... a suitable boy by Vikram Seth – I am a slow reader and this classic travelled the globe with me during the 4 months it took me to read it, but I remember it fondly for the company it gave me on those travels.

And I'm most excited to have proof here IN PRINT he is a Steve Jobs fan. Now if only Reena can snap a picture of him secretly using his iPad!

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