In An Email Interview, Hero MotoCorp Chairman, MD & CEO, Pawan Munjal, Tells Golf Digest India About His Vision Of Expanding The Company To 50 Countries And His Commitment Towards Golf
Golf is one of the fastest growing sport in India and the one person who has single-handedly put it on the path to progress has been Hero MotoCorp Chairman, Managing Director & CEO, Pawan Munjal. Golf never was a natural
choice for young children but over the years the success of Indian professionals overseas has managed to change the perception. Thanks to the platform provided by the Hero Indian Open, which has not only grown to become a European Tour tri-sanctioned tournament along with the Asian Tour and PGTI since 2015, but is also the highest prize money event in the country. This year the Hero Indian Open, to be staged at the DLF Golf & Country Club from March 9 to 12, will be a $1.75 million (Rs 11.85 crore approx) tournament, an increase of $90,000 since the last edition.
The corporate czar has also been supporting the Women’s Indian Open since its inaugural edition in 2007. In 2010, Hero became the title sponsor of the tournament and lifted it to the Ladies European Tour (LET) the same year.
Being an avid golfer himself, Munjal not only brought 14-time Major champion and former World No. 1 Tiger Woods to India in early 2014 but also hosts the American’s event on the PGA Tour, the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge.
In an email interview, Munjal tells Golf Digest India how Hero MotoCorp has expanded its presence to 33 countries worldwide, it’s $126 million investment in an R&D facility in Jaipur and the company’s commitment to promoting golf in the country.
GDI: Hero has been long-time sponsors of prestigious golf events – both the men’s and women’s Indian Open. What prompted you to decide that you should invest in golf?
PM: Hero MotoCorp has been asso- ciated with various disciplines of sports including golf, cricket, hockey and football for over two decades now. I have always believed that golf has the potential
to become hugely popular in India and over the years we have seen how the game has evolved in the country. Today, many Indian golfers have made their mark on the international circuits and made the country proud. The men’s Hero Indian Open is part of the European Tour and sees participation from many top players from across the world, putting India on the global golfing map.
GDI: How has Hero MotoCorp been performing in the last few years?
PM: Over the past five years, Hero has not just maintained its leadership in the domestic market in India, but has also emerged as a truly global brand. In a short span of time, we have expanded our global presence to over 33 countries across Asia, Africa and Central and South America and plan to be present in 50 countries by 2020. Last year, our first overseas manufacturing facility became operational in Colombia. Our second manufacturing facility at a global location is coming up in Bangladesh, which will become operational this year. We have also set up a world class state-of-the-art R&D facility – Global Centre of Innovation & Technology (CIT) – in Jaipur, the capital city of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. Built with an investment of US$126 million, the Centre has more than 500 engineers from India and around the world working on Hero’s next generation of motorcycles and scooters. The Maestro Edge and Duet scooters, and the Splendor iSmart 110 motorcycle – the first of our products, completely designed and developed by our in-house R&D team at the CIT – have received a positive response rom customers and are helping us consolidate our leadership position. Over the past five years, we have remained the dominant market leader in the country – still having over 50% market share in the domestic motorcycle market – and we are confident of continuing our strong performance in the future as well.
GDI: You were in the news for bringing Tiger Woods to India for the first time ever. Can you please share the experience of playing with Tiger at the DGC?
PM: Tiger is not just a golfing champion; he is truly a phenomenon and an icon for millions around the world. An achiever par excellence, Tiger’s appeal and charisma spans across continents cutting through barriers of geography, age, language, and nationalities. It was a one-of-a-kind experience to tee-off with Tiger at the iconic Delhi Golf Club. The club was packed with the enthusiasts and fans that day. Occasions such as these inspire young kids to pick-up the game and pursue it as a career option. We were more than happy to become the enabler of this unique opportunity for the fans to come and watch Tiger Woods play up close.
GDI: How has the company benefitted after making Tiger Woods the brand ambassador?
PM: Our association with Tiger Woods as our Global Corporate Partner is reflective of Brand Hero’s rapidly expanding global footprint. Having been associated with the game in India for many years, and being the title sponsor of the Hero Indian Open for both men and women for several years, it is only befitting that we should be stepping on to the global arena of golf with the Hero World Challenge. Going forward, we will further participate at global events, like this year we partnered with the prestigious British Masters. The innovative Hero Challenge one-hole knockout, played under floodlights, featured TV and Cricket celebrities and was a major success with spectators.
GDI: You have been hosting the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. What has been the feedback from top professionals about the first two editions?
PM: When we hosted the first edition of the hero World Challenge, there was not much awareness about Brand Hero in the United States. However, over the past two years, we have received tremendous appreciation and positive feedback from the players, organizers, and fans of the game. During the inaugural year, when Arnold Palmer made a surprise appearance at our welcome reception and gave us a thumbs-up for our new endeavor, it made an enormous difference to all of us and made us feel welcome and part of the community.
GDI: Hero MotoCorp has been supporting top Indian pros Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Kapur, Daniel Chopra and Sharmila Nicollet since the last 6 years. Do you plan to support more promising Indian golfers in the coming years?
PM: Over the years, we have supported promising sportspersons in different dis- ciplines and will continue to play this role in the future as well.