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Construction Week India Awards 2019 - Picking Winners

The 9th Construction Week India Awards had an eclectic mix of awe, grandeur and erudition

Felicitation of the Grand Jury at the Awards.
Felicitation of the Grand Jury at the Awards.

An event is as successful when its goals are clearly defined. But how can success be measured? In our case, if our partners and guests go back happy and content. So it was with the 9th Construction Week India Awards. You would think that having nailed the Awards for eight consecutive years, we would have it down pat. Yes, we do. But then we get better with each year.

The team leading the Construction Week Awards had few pointers to keep in mind: Ensure a smooth event, and that people go back gratified. Replicating success is easy once you get the hang of it. Growing from challenges and innovating with each passing year is the small pothole that we quickly cross.

The right connections
For the first time, probably, we made no changes in the categories this year. But a revolutionary deed we introduced this year was digital nominations. That was a huge bonus for the team managing the nominations, the companies participating and, of course, the Grand Jury.

With a process that started in June, we enlightened all participating companies to this novel format. It worked well for everyone involved. With over 430 nominations in our stockpile, the Jury that met on August 30 had a tough time allotting points as they knew that the fate of participating companies hung on their decision. Every nomination was unique and unparalleled in their scope of work and achievements. But at the end of the day, they went away satisfied about the job done.

It was now up to the team to showcase their work at the Awards that was held on September 20.

The day of the Awards dawned bright and clear. We were grateful. Considering that the monsoons continued well past its season, there was that nagging feeling about people shying away from commuting. But determined as they were, we had a full house on September 20 at ITC Maratha Mumbai Airport, which is where the Awards was held.

The Procurement Panel had a good mix of procurement heads from the real estate and infrastructure sector.

Prior to the Awards, we organised a Procurement Panel that had renowned and recognised names of the real estate and infrastructure sector.
Moderated by Prashant Mewada, CEO and executive director, Prabhav Realty & Infrastructure, the panellists comprised Aditya Thota Srinivas, deputy head, sales, FunderMax India; Rajesh Sharma, director, GM Modular; Kishore Kulkarni, procurement, LED, GM Modular; Shabbir Kanchwala, sr VP, purchase contracts & project co-ordination, K Raheja Corp; Mukesh Raval, project head, L&T; Amiya Verma, head, procurement (CB&A SBG), L&T Construction B&F; Vachan Singh, business head, L&T Realty; Shatrughan Singh, senior VP, procurement and contracts, Lodha Group; DS Rao, contracts & procurement head, Naman Group; Swadesh Anand, EPC head, Paradigm Realty; Mohd Haroon Siddiqui, VP, corporate head MEP, Rustomjee Group; PK Mishra, VP, procurement, Salarpuria Sattva; Ashish Kapoor, sales director, Schueco India; Ganesh Iyer, president & chief procurement officer, Tata Projects; Ajay Nahar, developer and PMC, Nahar Group; Pankaj Udeshi, AGM, procurement and SCM, Supreme Infrastructure India; Rakesh Borase, purchase manager, Naiknavare Developers; Tikam Jain, president, procurement, Lodha Group; and Pravin Hegde of Jaquar Group.

Managing Procurement in a VUCA World was the topic for the panellists. Mewada talked about the vulnerability in the market and how real estate companies are dealing with it. He further asked whether companies are feeling the heat of uncertainty or it’s a passing phase. He also wanted to know some of the experiences of the companies around in these unsteady times.

Nahar of Nahar Group said that with RERA there is a compulsion to finish projects on time so as to sell them. For this to happen, planning and procurement processes must be strong and adhered to. Also, in today’s uncertain market, only finished projects will sell quickly as buyers have become wary.

Verma of L&T Construction B&F said that till now India seemed stable. However, with today’s volatility, one cannot be sure of anything. So it’s necessary that we change the way we think and act. Uncertainty will continue to stay and it’s the people that will need to adjust to the changing times.

Kapoor of Schueco India pointed out the indicators are already present. “All of us have bene through this before. But it’s situations like this that brings out the best in people. Companies with strong foundations will survive and grow stronger,” he added.

Sharma of GM Modular had a sensible point to share when he said that one has to procure rightly, which depends on their demand forecasting. Managing finances and staying lean is the only approach for the medium to long term.

Singh of Lodha Group said that the uncertainty in the market has left developers with a cleaner image and more credibility. There’s now an organised market that was not there before.

Kulkarni of GM Modular expounded that customers today have more options than they did before. Today procurement is no more a support function, but a demand function. Awareness needs to be at a new high and not like it was a few years ago.

Borase of Naiknavare Developers said that besides making changes in one’s way of working, it helps to be discerning about today’s situation. There are some who can read into the situation very well, but others lag. It’s not easy to change markets, but people need to adapt and adopt.

Anand of Paradigm Realty pointed out that it’s a buyers’ market today. A strong financial closure will help in closing deals faster and moving to a leasing model from an end consumer would be even better.

Singh of L&T Realty said that we have always been in a VUCA world. One is never sure what the competition will come up with next. Recent regulations has shaken the real estate industry. There are opportunities and new business models are emerging and with future disruptions, there will further be newer business models.

Iyer of Tata Projects said that people have more information now despite the uncertainties in the market. However, understanding the information is what counts and should matter. People have been through recessions and know that things will never be smooth. Though they are prepared, sudden unpredictability is what unnerves them.

Srinivas of FunderMax India said that as a vendor it is hard to discern and define trends as they vary with changing conditions. Every product has a life cycle and developers may not continue to emulate the same kind of buildings each time. There is much that needs to be considered and vendors need to be prepared with new products.

Rao of Naman Group spoke about how today’s world encourages discussions and helps throw up new solutions. The lean and mean works very well, but a prescient mind is what is needed to look deeper into the situation and evaluate them well.

Raval of L&T Construction compared today’s world to how man evolved from being a hunter to becoming a farmer. Perspective is important. What is a threat to one is a boon to another. Analysing data has become priority as compared to a few years earlier.

Siddiqui of Rustomjee Group said that uncertainties are caused by people. They impose certain injunctions and that can cause a VUCA world in the lives of the people around them. Most times, these are perceived and non-existent. Immaterial of the kind of world we live in, people need homes and our job is to build them. He even quoted a couple of lines in Urdu that translated meant the fear of an earthquake does not mean that developers stop constructing buildings.

Agreeing with Siddiqui, Udeshi of Supreme Infrastructure said from the procurement point of view, if a few players are not performing well, it doesn’t mean that the market is down. Some will continue to fare well because of the goodwill they have earned or the projects that they do. This must continue.
Mishra of Salarpuria Sattva pointed out that procurement in the VUCA era is what needs to be defined. Companies procure goods from across the country or world and any incident in these places can affect the supply chain. This delays delivery of projects. RERA will not help then.

Hegde of Jaquar Group said that suppliers and customers need to create a win-win situation. With reduced competition, those left behind will perform better and offer quality.

Jain of Lodha Group said that VUCA is a myth created because some fail to identify opportunities. Complexities in the world will not change or end. One has to make do with what is available in the market.

Kanchwala of K Raheja Corp said that the environment may not be conducive to our expectations, but one needs to keep up the good work and ultimately that is what counts.

The discussion ended with further discussions among the panellists as they wait to move to the grand Ballroom for the Awards ceremony.

We were then set to move into the Awards.

Let the right one in
Welcoming the guests, Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media Group (India) thanked them for braving the impulsive weather and did not forget to mention the team that put up such an impressive show. He pointed out that the reason why the industry has always stood behind Construction Week India is because the awards have always been neutral and will continue to stay that way.

Jayanth Jain of GM Modular welcomed the guests.

Jayanth Jain, CEO & MD, GM Modular, offered a special welcome in his own way and was grateful to be associated with the awards for the third time in a row. Aspiring to be the best and offer the best, Jain said that it is for this reason the company has tied up with Occhio of Germany to offer far superior products in India. He then invited Jaxay Shah, chairman of CREDAI and MD of Savvy Group, to launch the G-X, a new range in home electrical category that takes the switches & accessories category to a new level with mesmerising form and functionality.

Delivering a special address, Shyam Raghunandan, MD, Schueco India, said that today’s transformational times especially in the construction sector. This sector is gifted with young aspirational people, and there are exciting moments towards digitisation. Speaking about how his globally accepted products of doors and windows are focussed on safe buildings and automated solutions for safety and security, he said that they are looking for partners who can take these forward.

Shyam Raghunandan of Schueco India seemed glad to be a part of the Awards.

It was time to move to the Awards, the reason why everyone was present. While the Awards are much fun, somewhere at the back of our mind, we also knew that it would not be so much fun if there was no stimulation of the brain. Once again, we invited some of the finest and distinguished industry heads to speak on the one topic that is bewildering the industry at large: Consolidation: The only hope.

Moderated by Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK, the panellists comprised Boman Irani, chairman & MD, Rustomjee Group; Sangeeta Prasad, MD & CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces; Ram S Raheja, director, architects, Raheja Realty; Ar Sanjay Puri, principal architect, Sanjay Puri Architects; Parvez Amin, president, sales, Jaquar Group; Vishal Mirchandani, CEO, commercial and retail, Puravankara; and Kashyap Patwa, certified partner, GM Modular.
Anuj opened the discussion by pointing out how the residential sector has seen a decline while the commercial, retail and hospitality segment has been booming. Shooting his first question to Ms Prasad, he asked her opinion on whether consolidation is what she believes in and, if given a choice, would a brown field project work well with her?

The panel discussion had an eclectic mix of developers and architects.

Expounding on how any churn in the market brings out an order, Ms Prasad explained that as a company they have been robust, prudent and this is the right time to grow. “There are people who will always approach you with land deals, but if a project is in the right place then market and operational beliefs must be considered because we are in the business of real estate. When we consolidate, we collaborate. How should this ecosystem work is the question that needs to be asked. But we know that we are on the right path and will continue to do what we do best,” she added.

Irani said that if developers behave with decorum, there is enough land and work to go around. The established players need to follow rules and create guidelines and it helps others when corporate enter the world of real estate. “Opportunities will and can be created. If buyers approach the right developers, it creates a sense of security in the market. Moreover, the business of real estate sticks well with seasoned players, but new entrants tend to fumble and may have a tendency to cause disruption in the market,” he added.

Speaking about how prices vary and are decided on, Ar Sanjay Puri said that prices would depend on the number of storeys and the length of time taken to develop them, not to forget the finishes that come with it. This again would vary from state to state. Interestingly, there are towers in Mumbai alone that offer no ventilation in the washroom. This only increases energy consumption.”

Expounding on how Puravankara has segmented its business model, Mirchandani said that residential (luxury and affordable) is its core business, while “I am only building the commercial business hereon”. Today’s challenging times are a good opportunity to look at solutions differently, he added.
Patwa pointed out GM Modular has always stayed ahead of the curve and consistently launched new products even before the market wanted them. There has been much investment in terms of R&D and we have tied up with global leaders to bring exclusive products to India.

Raheja said that a lot has changed in real estate since he came down to India 10 years ago. However, his company has focussed on new residential developments and micro-markets of Mumbai. “While consolidation may be the only hope, innovation is what will get one ahead,” he added.

Amin of Jaquar Group spoke about how everyone is feeling the heat. “Consolidation does not apply to the real estate sector alone, but also a company like ours where we are constantly looking out to acquire new companies. So while cost is one factor, attractive designs will gain interest,” he said.

It was now time to move ahead with the Awards.

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