Manasi Kirloskar Is The New Star On The Business Block

At 24, Manasi Kirloskar, who graduated last year from the world reputed Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), blends big business with Art & Philanthropy, skillfully and gracefully.  Highly intelligent, beautiful, soft spoken, elegant, cultured, and with strong family values, Manasi Kirloskar naturally takes forward the 150 year strong lineage and value system of Kirloskars.  

Manasi Kirloskar featured in India Today

Manasi Kirloskar featured in India Today

Manasi graduated in Fine Art last year from the world famous Rhode Island School of Design, Boston, USA. The elegant and graceful Manasi is smoothly charting her own destiny, effortlessly and successfully managing her balancing act between Art and Business, between the emotional creative and the rational.

She has recently been appointed as Executive Director of Kirloskar Systems Ltd., their holding company. She is also on the Board of Kirloskar Technologies Pvt. Ltd ((KTPL), manufacturers of high-tech medical equipment in India. She has joined the business immediately after graduation in June this year. “Infact, I reached home on a Thursday and started work the following Monday!”, says Manasi.

The Pedigree

Proud parents: Vikram and Geetanjali

Proud parents: Vikram and Geetanjali

Manasi is the only daughter and the only child of Vikram and Geetanjali Kirloskar, and great grand-daughter of S.L. Kirloskar, the doyen of industry in Maharashtra.  A member of one of India’s leading and oldest business families, respected and reputed for over 150 years for its ethics and commitment to quality, she has undoubtedly inherited  their business acumen. “My great grandfather saw the artist in me, he also observed the future businesswoman in me. I remember he bought me a bicycle and told me to ride it around the house. I said, for every round I complete you will have to give me Rs.10. He laughed and said, she is already a businesswoman”, reminisces Manasi.

The Businesswoman

She started work first on managing the Kirloskar Business Park, which is their real estate project.  It needed a relook at the rentals, and general upgradation of the concept to make it more premium.  Manasi studied the problems, the financials with the help of the team, and set a process for improved maintenance, beautification and repairs for upgradation.  She has developed a 3 year plan by which time the property will be upgraded to a higher level of interiors and layout, facilities etc., so that larger Corporate offices can take the rental and command higher values. She takes all site review meetings on the site at the Business Park, believing in the Japanese and the Toyota way – “Be at the location of the problem to be able to solve it”.

Manasi is also training at the aggressive Healthcare project set up by her, and her parents Vikram and Geetanjali. The first hospital will be commissioned at Bangalore in September, with 360 beds, This is a JV with Toyota Tsusho Japan and SECOM Hospitals Japan, and plans are to set up a chain across India.
Since it is a greenfield project, it will give her substantial hands on experience of site and construction, project management, HR and setting up of different functions from scratch.  She is at the same time studying up on the Hospital and Healthcare industry and enjoying this part of the work the most.  It also gives her an opportunity to utilize her strong creative learning and talent, as she has worked on the brand template, design template and designing the interiors with the Architect and their team to ensure it stays within the brand template and color palette. She is also working on the entire Art and Mural required for the interiors from the lobby to each floor, the furniture and carpets, the café et al.

“In the US, Art and Design graduates, especially from reputed colleges, are often picked up by Corporates to work in their companies because they want some of their people to have the ability and the training to think creatively and innovatively.  Their out of the box thinking and training in the creative process adds value to their business.  It is this trained ability to think differently and creatively that I believe is my biggest strength when managing the business portfolio”, explains Manasi. She has suggested SOPs for the Hospital in the Admin and Management area that can help improve Patient convenience in an innovative and cost-effective way. She believes it is the era of creativity now.

Manasi is also a part of Young Indians of CII and a member of the Owners Forum, a German based association of businessmen.

The Artist
Having been gifted the first easel by her great-grandfather, S.L. Kirloskar, Manasi has been painting ever since she can remember – she was almost born with a paint-brush in her hand. She would draw on walls and bedsheets as a kid.

“I remember when I was hardly 7 years old, I was sitting with my great-grandfather in our bungalow garden, and he asked me to draw a house. I drew and erased, drew again and erased. This went on for some time. When I finished he was happy. And then he gifted me my first easel, which I treasure till today”, smiles Manasi.

At the age of 10, she copied a Van Gogh painting, called ‘The Sun of Arles’, and gifted it to her grandmother on her 60th birthday. When her father, Vikram signed up his JV with Toyota, Manasi made an oil painting on canvas of Lord Ganesha and gifted it to Mr. Akio Toyota.

She had her first solo exhibition of 23 large oil paintings on canvas at the age of 13, at Bangalore. Today she is an artist of repute. Top personalities and art connoisseurs like Kiran Mazumdar, Videocon corporate office, Vijay Mallya, Shekhar Gupta and many others attended and bought her pieces of work. The late M.F. Hussain Saheb came specially and highly complemented her work.

Last year a large Art Gallery in London bought one of her paintings from her website. “I had gone to visit the Miami Art Fair in July last year. I distributed my visiting cards there. And soon enough, a very large art gallery in London bought one of my paintings from my website”, smiles Manasi. That’s not all – recently, two of her paintings were sold at a charity auction at New York, with multiple bids.

After work every day and on weekends, one can find Manasi furiously painting away at her studio at home. She plans to have her next exhibition end of this year.

The Philanthropist

A sensitive and caring person, Manasi has been doing community service work since the age of 13. Called ‘Caring with Colors’, she started a programme with an NGO, where she taught lesser privileged children Art & Craft at school. She then took their creative work and had it framed and had exhibitions to sell them. She organized sponsors for the paint and other material as her parents encouraged her to organize the funds for the activity.  The funds thus raised were used by the schools for maintenance, food and books for these kids. After her graduation and return to India, Manasi is further developing this programme by structuring it and scaling it up. She will integrate basic hygiene training and interpersonal skill training with confidence building, for these lesser privileged children. “I feel community service must be an integral part of school curriculum and am developing a Community Service model for govt and other schools”, explains Manasi.

She also went to Vietnam at the age of 16 for a special community service project from her high school at Singapore.

She has developed a community service model for high school kids, to make community service an integral part of high school curriculum and has been meeting different schools at Bangalore to integrate this. Manasi believes that the more privileged must use their skills and time and not just their money for community service, like she used her skill in Design and Painting.

Manasi ‘s immense talent and intelligence and her cultured elegant approach, has over the years helped develop her leadership skills, her management skills and of course her touch with the hard reality with which India lives. She has a lot to say on the Govt schools and the lesser privileged children….

In spite of being an Artist, Manasi has a strong rational and logical side.  She is able to think in a structured manner and put processes and systems in place. From her very early years, being in a joint family business, she says there have been a lot of natural learnings. She spends a lot of time in reading up business media to continuously keep abreast, since she spent last 7 years out of India.

Her indulgence 

Manasi loves Gourmet food.  A passion she inherited from her father Vikram, who is an excellent cook.  Very sensitive to the finer tastes of the palate, father and daughter visit the best restaurants and Michelin Star restaurants across the world.  She also loves to shop like any other girl!  Travels across the world for sightseeing, art and water sports and beaches, both of which she absolutely loves.  She enjoys the South of France for its Art and its amazing cuisine.

The multifaceted Manasi is also a lot into sporting activities and she specially enjoys water sports like rafting, swimming, deep sea diving, and, in fact, she has just got her scuba diving certification.  That’s not all –  Yoga, Lawn Tennis and Hiking, also find a place in her list of favourite must do activities. She is a voracious reader and a very good writer, and has 6 articles to her credit which she wrote specially for The Economic Times in 2011. Talk of her favourite subjects and its Art & History!!

Proud parents
Father Vikram, an MIT Graduate, is Chairman Kirloskar Systems Limited and Vice Chairman Toyota Kirloskar Motors.  He enjoys a fruitful relationship through this JV with Toyota for over 12 years now, going beyond automobiles to 6 JVs with Toyota Group for Automotive components, etc. Mother Geetanjali Kirloskar has been a reputed Advertising professional in her own right, setting up and running a JV Ad Agency with IPG Worldwide.  She has now returned to the family business and set up Toyota Tsusho Insurance Broker and most recently made an aggressive foray into Healthcare, with a JV with Toyota Tsusho, Secom Hospitals Japan to set up a chain of multi-specialty Hospitals across India, the first one to be operational in September at Bangalore.

Very much a family person 

Manasi has been brought up in a business joint family, with very strong ethics, culture and values.  She loves spending time with all her aunts, grand aunts, grandmothers and cousins across Bangalore and Pune, attending multiple family functions. “We have a large family and I love our family get together and functions. They are very warm and caring. And also a lot of fun!”, she beams.

“She is well aware of her lineage.  She strongly believes she must maintain and further in any way she can, the values of this 150 year old brand and heritage.  She believes it to be her responsibility”, beams Geetanjali.

Being an only child of the Industrialist couple, Manasi bears the responsibility of managing their vast and reasonably diverse business portfolio, their investments and CSR.  At the same time pursuing her passion and immense talent for Art.  A balance Manasi is doing with great efficiency and success !

Manasi manages to do several initiatives Parallely and successfully for one so young!
This fourth generation Kirloskar will definitely carry her rich family legacy ahead and is all set to make a mark on the youth landscape of India.

About the Author

S. Kapeed