DTU Times interviewed Ashish Joshi, CEO of Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd., who was invited as a speaker at TEDxDTU'19.
You were a part of the IEEE during your engineering and also a member of the Business Forum during your post-graduation days in London. How important a role do you think such societies play in the college days?
These are a very important part of one’s college life. You gain leadership qualities from roles such as these. During my engineering, we used to organise an event of the electrical department called ‘Expressions’. One year we decided not to reach out to sponsors for monetary support but to sell out stall space for computer parts’ manufacturers as computer tech was the hot topic at that time. We thought differently and succeeded in organizing an event for the department. Incidents like these teach you leadership at a young age, so being part of these events is very important in terms of how it shapes your character going forward.
How did you discover your passion for motorcycles and got interested in the automotive industry?
As a young kid being surrounded by all sorts of army vehicles piqued my interest in the field of motorcycles. I was taught how to ride a motorcycle when I was 13 got into trouble at home for it. I have always felt a connection with the roads when I am on a motorcycle. The wind behind your ears and sweeping over your face as you go on a ride is one of the best feelings you can have. I still just get on a bike and go for a 20-30 km ride to take a break and relax on the road. Motorcycles are a great means for destressing for me and are very close to my heart. It is not about riding fast but about what you feel at that point of time and the moods you go through. It is about letting go. I always come back clear headed after a ride.
How do you plan to compete with the major players such as Royal Enfield that are already established in India? How do Jawa motorcycles stand out?
Jawa Motorcycles is a design-based brand. Our product speaks for us. As far as competing with another brand goes, I am not sure we would be competing with them. Jawa is a brand in itself and it is more than about motorcycles. It connects to that nostalgia and emotional part from your past or that story that is told to you by your grandfather and you want to experience it yourself. It is relevant for millennials as for them authencity and form are big factors. If it looks good with an authentic story then you can connect to it at a nostalgic level.
What other skills do you think are necessary for an engineer in life apart from technical knowledge?
Attitude is key. Attitude is not only how you communicate with others but qualities such as bravery and fearlessness towards challenges. When you stop taking no for an answer, that is the right attitude needed in life. You should be able to handle the criticism and be fearless if you want to work with any good corporation. I usually make my new recruits go through all sorts of challenges to make them fearless and test them. You should have technical skills but you can always study about a subject nowadays. Everybody did not have access to the same knowledge some years back but today the scene is quite different. What you do with the knowledge you have is what is most important. Most people today want the easy way out with lesser hours and good pay in IT jobs. But a decade down the line all your sharpness is dulled and dimmed and you don’t know much about how an industry works out side of your monitor. We need our engineering graduates to bring about a culture of manufacturing products. We should not just end up being the backyard boys for the western countries who use us as the service providers for the rest of the world or working in call centres for foreign companies.
I also advise you to have an audacious goal in life. Unless you can see a vision for yourself, you will not be able to plan a path for yourself. Don’t get bogged down with the nitty-gritties of life. People may doubt you, but that needs to be your fuel. It might not be easy but remember that if it were, everybody would be doing it.
Engineering graduates nowadays are more interested in innovating things and the field of entrepreneurship. But are often led down by the lack of management skills. How do you think an engineer should acquire the required business skills for a startup?
Every company is different and requires different skills, but what is necessary for a start up is a good dose of realism. An entrepreneur should be willing to put everything on the line. If you can’t put in the effort and lead by example people will not follow you. Every start up might have a brilliant idea but one also needs to focus on the execution. What happens when the seed money behind the idea runs out? If you do not plan out the best possible execution of the idea then it proves fatal for the company. This is the differentiating factor for start-ups. The message for engineers is that just don’t go with the idea but also plan out the execution.