Master Builder

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ACCORDING TO DLF Chairman KP Singh, the secret of his (phenomenal) success is the work ethic he imbibed from two corporate legends: George Warren Hoddy of Universal Electric and Jack Welch of General Electric. He started out in the 1960s, when doing business in license-raj India was extremely tough. Adding to his difficulties was the fact that he had neither a business degree nor a pedigree from a business family. “But I learnt the corporate ropes from the best of the best,” says KP, who first met Hoddy when he set up a plant in Faridabad. From Hoddy, he says he learnt “that to be effective, you have to know deeply whichever field you are involved in.” And then there was Welch, whose basic ingredient for success was getting to grips with the essentials. “Come to the point,” was his characteristic reprimand. KP loved it. “We have adopted a similar approach in motivating the DLF team to take the organisation to the top of the heap,” adds the 78-year-old.

KP Singh
KP Singh
Age: 78
Profession: Runs DLF, one of India’s largest real estate majors
Decisive moment: Accepted the label of ‘coward’ and quit the Indian Military Academy, unable to bear its rigours. Went on to become incredibly successful Photo: AP

From the two, KP Singh realised that corporate decisions have to be based on a judicious blend of the macro picture and micro realities. For him, life’s simple philosophy revolves around positive thinking, a pre-requisite for success. For more than four decades, he has always sought the silver lining behind even the darkest of clouds. What else is on the mind of the veteran builder? “Humility and austerity even in times of plenty and prosperity.” The public face of DLF works silently from his home and is rarely seen in public. Work, not talk, is important for KP.