50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2019
The Silicon Review
Vikram Solar was set up in 2006 with the intent to provide clean and sustainable energy. Headquartered in Kolkata, the company focuses primarily on manufacturing solar PV modules and also carries out engineering, procurement & construction services, and operations & maintenance of solar power plants. Vikram Solar enjoys a global presence with subsidiaries in Asia, Germany, the USA, Africa, and Latin America. As a company focused on sustainability, it conducts major CSR projects with an emphasis on promoting solar energy as well as Indian heritage.
In Conversation with Gyanesh Chaudhary, MD and CEO, Vikram Solar
Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
The company was set up with a clear vision of promoting and providing clean and sustainable energy choices to our country and the world. Vikram Solar was born from a deeply rooted business group that always focused on the wellbeing of the community. Considering the deteriorating (fossil fuel-based) energy situation in India and abroad, stepping into the clean energy business was a decisive step. Believing that solar energy is the best next mainstream energy choice and offering tailor made and satisfactory clean energy solutions over the years has helped us to expand and become one of the leaders in the industry.
Q. In this modern business world, what do you exactly mean by “A Smart Company”?
By identifying as a ‘Smart Company,’ we mean that we combine innovative technology with practical and flexible business models to offer sustainable products and services. We used technology brought from Germany, Switzerland, and Japan to produce high-quality solar solutions. We collaborate with various globally renowned leading research institutions to continuously evolve our product quality and performance. We believe a truly ‘Smart Company’ should change everything it touches while moving toward progress. And that is what we have been doing for 13 years now.
Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
Believe it or not, Vikram Solar’s first project was in Kottenheim, Germany, where we commissioned a 1.05 MW high yield solar project at the solar park in Kottenheim. It was the first project in every term and understanding for us, and since it needed module supply and EPC solutions both, the challenges were considerable. We faced challenges in developing strategies, finding workforce, vendors, and second-guessed every decision to avoid making any errors due to inexperience. However, we never compromised on quality and performance, and that is what the progress reflected after commissioning.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
When Vikram Solar started in 2006, India had not yet realized the immense potential of the solar industry. The Government support, a flurry of policies, supportive incentives, easy financial aid, and industrial development opportunities that we see today didn’t exist back then. It created huge hurdles in Vikram’s path to promote solar and expand business in India and abroad. However, we believed in the necessity of a sustainable and green energy source for the future and walked towards enhancing our manufacturing capacity. Eventually, the country and the world started to show acceptance to solar, and Vikram received encouragement to move forward and become a well-known name in the industry.
Q. A company to be one the SMARTEST, its employees must be open-minded and creative; they need to feel they have a decent outlet for sharing their observations and ideas, is this true with your company?
We understand that the sustainability of our business depends on a highly skilled and motivated workforce. Therefore, we nurture and develop talent by offering challenging, engaging, and fulfilling opportunities, which maximizes individual potential and adds value to our business. We invest in building teams, nurturing the skillset of our people, and engaging them to create a culture of high performance.
Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?
A culture of feedback is what we celebrate. Besides offering O&M solutions to our clients, we constantly follow up with our clients (new and old) through NPS (net promoter score) survey to get their testimonial on plant performance, their experiences, and level of satisfaction. This practice has helped Vikram to build strong business relationships based on trust.
Q. Smartness & Technology is a perfect fusion. How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?
Our innovation process is continuous and lies at the heart of what we do. We believe that the solar sector needs continuous improvement in technology and efficiency to become the mainstream energy source. This ideology powers our innovation, and generally, we try to bring new products every year.
Q. How do you and your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform at large?
We understand that smart systems can help us provide smart solutions. Therefore, we have continued to improve our IT infrastructure to support and deliver better solutions to our clients. Recently we have succeeded in harnessing digital capabilities for enterprise transformation. Our Digital Transformation initiative was taken up to build a new, scalable, and robust business application architecture for incorporating future growth in all dimensions such as geographic spread, business lines, and technological advancements.
Q. People like when companies are involved in social welfare/CSR activities, what do you say about this?
Our agenda for social good is steered by our need to make a positive change in society, and being a responsible corporate citizen. Our corporate social responsibility initiatives are an integral part of our sustainability program that focuses on empowering the marginalized segments of the society through promoting education and healthcare and providing opportunities in rural and urban areas alike.
Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?
We have just launched new products in India (High-efficiency Multi Bus Bar half-cell modules) and the US market (first bifacial PV modules along with half-cell module series) in 2019, and we have plans to bring in more products for global markets very soon.
About Mr. Gyanesh Chaudhary
Mr. Gyanesh Chaudhary is a dynamic business leader and key driving force of Vikram Solar. Under his leadership, the Company has established itself as an internationally acclaimed solar PV module manufacturer and a comprehensive EPC solutions provider.
Mr. Chaudhary strongly believes in the economic, environmental and social implications of business and understands the value of sustainability for business growth and continuity. Ideologically, he believes solar is the core strategy and an answer to various environmental issues affecting the world today.
He is a Business graduate from the University of Wales, UK and has a Diploma in Marketing and International Trade from the University of Boston and International Business from Harvard Business School, USA. He has also completed an Owner/President Management Program on Business Transformation and Strategy from Harvard Business School. Currently, he holds the position of Managing Director & CEO at Vikram Solar.
He has also been acknowledged as a ‘Promising Entrepreneur’ by The Economic Times, has received the Bengal Entrepreneurship Award by Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) and has been conferred with Emerging Leader Award by Calcutta Management Association.