Most Promising Category- Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2015
Recipient: Rajan Komarasu, Head of Alstra
Awards and Recognition
Inspired by his dad and exposed to the business world at a very young age, Rajan Komarasu sharpened his entrepreneur skills and realized his dream of running a successful business operation in the Philippines. Rajan is the Group Director for Building & Industrial Solutions (BIS), currently known as Alstra, the commercial arm of Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), a publicly listed company.
CIC is the market leader in the manufacture and distribution of airconditioning and refrigeration products in the Philippines. The company’s products are marketed under global brands like Carrier, Toshiba, Condura and Midea. Other than managing the B2B segment of airconditioning products, Rajan is also the CEO of Concepcion-Otis Philippines Inc., a joint venture that was created in March 2014 between CIC and Otis, a global market leader for elevators and escalators.
Born and raised in Singapore, Rajan grew an interest for business and finance in the early years where he engaged in his father’s small retail business. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business degree from Curtin University of Technology, Australia. Later on he took up a professional certification with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.
Starting out his career in finance in 1992, Rajan worked very hard to get well exposed in all facets of the business. His careers both in external and internal auditing gave him a great level of experience in understanding processes, risk and business management. He travelled extensively and appreciated the exposure to multi- cultural organizations and their business practices.
In 2005, Rajan further rose up the corporate ladder assuming a regional role in Financial Planning & Analysis with Carrier Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Recognizing his hard work and passion, he was posted to the Philippines in 2007 to assume a CFO role with Concepcion- Carrier Air Conditioning Company (CCAC).
Rajan went to the Philippines with no intentions of just handling finance but to help the entire business. Without the need of advising him what his official role was, Rajan voluntarily got involved in different aspects of the business, for instance in human resources, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and sales and service operations. This role further cemented his entrepreneurial spirit in wanting to lead a company in the future. In 2011, he was assigned in Shanghai as Director for Financial Planning & Analysis for Asia Pacific region. However, motivated with his assignment in the Philippines, Rajan pursued his dream of managing a business in 2013. His longtime good friend and mentor Raul Joseph Concepcion, who is currently the Chairman and CEO of CIC, checked whether he would be interested in developing the commercial business of CIC. Without any hesitation, Rajan accepted the role. He was offered the position of Director for Building and Industrial Solutions (BIS) in CCAC. Shortly after assuming this role, Rajan started working on a joint venture with Otis that complemented the airconditioning business.
Rajan faced many challenges in setting up the BIS division. The B2B segment of the business was a concept that was not well nurtured. Understanding the market and delivering to the customers’ needs required a major transformation of the business. He spearheaded a reorganization in BIS, remapping the processes, introducing technologies, focusing on strategic initiatives in providing the best suited products and services for their customers. Being the group director of BIS is a very challenging role which requires constant and consistent communication and ensuring the cross functional teams work together to offer a seamless integrated solution to the customers.
Within two years of establishing the business, BIS has been a top choice to work with by customers and key influencers like architects and mechanical consultants in the Philippines. These professionals have leveraged the expertise of BIS team in design and engineering and specify the right building solutions for their needs. In addition to this, BIS offers expertise in project management in major project sites ensuring safe and quality installations. The sales and aftermarket operations were also transformed to strengthen a customer centric environment.
With the execution of strategic initiatives and planning and the regular focus to the business, the BIS pipeline of commercial projects grew 100% over a one year period to approximately $200M in June 2015. The first six months revenue in 2015 for BIS grew 50% to $25M. The synergies of both businesses have worked very well and could be replicated to other new ventures. Rajan has high aspirations of delivering double-digit growth to the top line as well as ensuring profitable growth.
Rajan always believes the secret of personal success is hard work, learning from mistakes, passion for quality, maintaining integrity and developing good employees. Captured from a book he once read, one of Rajan’s favorite quote is “you are only as good as those you are surrounded by”. He ensures time is given to high potential employees and those who seeks his advice for development. “I love to see people that I have coached become successful and grow wiser”, says Rajan.
At the helm of BIS, Rajan makes sure everything runs smoothly. He is very much a hands-on leader and is not afraid to roll-up his sleeves and get into the thick of things. He is motivated by new challenges, loves to engage with his team and encourages them to bring and test new and bold ideas. He is accessible to customers and preaches good customer service. He knows that a customer centric culture, strong people and delivering service excellence will take to reach his vision of growing the business fourfold by 2020 to over $300M. When asked on how his team is able to handle such an immense goal in the horizon, he simply stated, “We are very bullish about our market potential and more than that, we have a strong team that is very focused in delivering our commitments”.
In business and in life Rajan has one motto. “Always do the right thing”, he stated, “you will always be faced with challenging situations and a good survivor is someone who makes the right decision at the right time”. When colleagues were asked to describe Rajan, this motto popped up in conversation quite often. “I admire him about his ethical beliefs and practices”, a colleague of Rajan stated.
In his spare time, Rajan loves to run and go to the gym. He has dabbled in badminton and golf as well but none give him as much joy as being with his family. So his weekends are spent for the one thing he cares for most, his family.
When asked for advice that he might want to give young entrepreneurs, Rajan stated “Always aim high and never be stingy about your own dreams. Lastly I see a lot of young individuals who are afraid of making mistakes. I always make it a point to tell them never be afraid of making mistakes as this is the one true way for you to become stronger and to grow yourself as an individual”.
About the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards
The Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards, or APEA, is a regional recognition program organized by Enterprise Asia, an association and thinktank for entrepreneurship in the region. The Awards are presented to a handful of entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific each year, with award ceremonies held in over 12 every year.
The Awards is often compared to the Olympics for the stringent entry criteria and highly competitive judging parameters. Nominations of the Awards itself is by invitation, either by past and current awardees, a supporting trade association, or the organizing committee of Enterprise Asia. Nominees are then subjected to a series of rigorous tests, including financial verification by an appointed audit firm and a compulsory physical site audit and interview, culminating in a secret balloting process by Enterprise Asia's organizing committee.