Pursuit of Happiness

The Farmer on a Long Drive

Venkatram Mamillapalle, country CEO and MD of Renault India Operations, is passionate about horticulture—he has a farm with more than 300 varieties of fruit trees. He is equally passionate about travelling and reading

His sense of humour becomes apparent the moment Venkatram Mamillapalle, country CEO and managing director of Renault India Operations, starts talking about himself. “There are two phases in my introduction—pre-Covid and post-Covid. Post-Covid, I say I am a farmer. Callers from credit card departments or banks drop the call immediately and do not disturb me,” he laughs. Just when one starts wondering who the joke is on—farmers or credit card sellers—he clarifies that he is indeed a farmer.

Mamillapalle loves farming. He has a horticulture farm in Zahirabad near Hyderabad, where he has 300 types of fruit trees, including around 4,000 of mango and dragon fruit each, around 2,000 of amla, besides others like guava, passionfruit, etc. In fact, he has built a farmhouse there which will be his retirement jaunt, he declares.  

Earlier, he tells us, he would introduce himself as a “globetrotter”—he has visited around 36 countries since 1994—and loves the mountains. Travelling remains one of his passions. South Korea is his favourite destination. Besides the fact that it is a mountainous country, he loves the place for its diversity, cleanliness and discipline. “The ability to make things happen is enormous in that country. You have to tell them just once, and it will be done. There is no follow-up required,” he says.

While talking about families with “good principles” in South Korea, he gets a bit critical of the changes in the perspectives of people. “We should be pro-digitalisation but it cannot kill your culture, which is happening. This is happening in a few pockets. I am afraid it does not spread too fast, too great and too deep. Adaptation will happen over time because it is organic, but it should make civilisations healthier,” he notes.

His own family time is sacrosanct. “Going to office on time is discipline, going back home on time is responsibility,” he says. He recalls the time when he would work even on Sundays. Since he was mostly with global organisations, he had to adjust his work due to the time lag. Gradually, as he rose through the ranks, he started “pulling back”. He has been working five days a week for past 20 to 22 years. “I never pick up calls on Saturdays and Sundays, unless they are from friends,” Mamillapalle quips.

He loves reading but is not picky about authors. “I go by the title and the content inside. In a couple of pages, I judge what the book is like,” he says. When he picks a book, he does not take up any other leisure activity until he has finished it. He recently read The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra several times. His success mantra is simple: “Work with dedication and passion. If you do not have passion and dedication, do not take the job. Just give the opportunity to someone who can do it better than you.” Nobody is indispensable, he avers.

Innovation is important for progress, Mamillapalle believes. “When you stay in a job for more than five years, you start thinking based on what you know. There is no new thought process cropping up. A new person comes and sees everything. He can possibly see where his predecessor went wrong and how he can fix that for future. That is innovation. That is how you progress,” he says.

Mamillapalle may be the country head of a global auto giant, but he wants the world to remember him as a common man. “I can sleep on the street and in a seven-star [hotel] with no hesitation. I do not care, as long as I am comfortable and happy,” he says, on a parting note.