Balbir Singh Dhillon was always taken with the cars he saw whizzing past him, which led him to study mechanical engineering from Punjab Engineering College. Over time, his passion for wheels blossomed into a lifelong affair.
“As a child, cars and bikes brought a sense of thrill and freedom, and I was extremely drawn towards them,” Mumbai-based Dhillon says. “My education was another catalyst that enlightened me about this field and allowed me to get a deep dive into the world of automobiles.”
But his early days after taking over as head of Audi India in 2019 were filled with challenges. He had to tackle a strategic shift as they discontinued the sale of diesel cars and transitioned towards the petrol and electric models. Soon after, the pandemic struck.
“While 2020 proved to be a difficult year for the Indian luxury car segment, marked by unpredictable lockdowns, global supply chain impediments and semiconductor chip shortages, we’ve experienced a strong recovery and robust growth over the last two years,” the 51-year-old says. “Like they say, every challenge gives you an opportunity to view things differently and grow.”
While just three percent of their sales are electric today after the launch of the e-tron range of vehicles, their focus is on transitioning towards their goal of going completely electric by 2033.
“There is a significant momentum towards electric vehicles as consumer perceptions about their viability improves. The response has been very encouraging, which makes us believe that electric acceptance in the country will happen much faster than we anticipated,” he says.
Dhillon talks to Lounge about mentorship and other things.
I don’t have one mentor. I learn from everyone around me including my children. Everyone teaches you something.
Support undoubtedly plays the most important role in being a mentor. Being a part of Audi India since 2007 has allowed me to leverage my experience to mentor colleagues at the organization, especially in challenging times such as the pandemic.
I am an early riser. I begin my day with a brief workout or a 30 minute walk, followed by breakfast. I then go to work around 8.30am. My commute to work involves getting a head start with some brief calls and clearing my emails from the previous night.
Following a routine that includes dedicated time for work, breaks, exercise, relaxation and personal activities has helped me greatly. In order to be productive at work and in life, it is important to take time off to reset.
Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.
Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.