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Team BT     July 8, 2019

The domestic automotive industry has troughed for some time as car sales are dipping. In CY2018, overall passenger vehicle sales grew 5.3 per cent while luxury cars recorded 3.5 per cent growth on a much smaller base. The only exception was Mercedes-Benz that retained its top spot in India's luxury car market for the fourth consecutive year and sold more than 15,000 cars during the period. To keep up the momentum, Schwenk was asked to take charge of India operations from November 2018 after his successful stint as the CFO at Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co. Ltd.

Q. The biggest challenge you faced in your career

A. The biggest problem is not a once-upon-a-time kind of thing but a continuous, ongoing one. I think maintaining a healthy relationship between one's business and private life is a tough one. When we are young, we tend to focus too much on jobs and careers. But if you want to grow a family, it is equally important to give time to and make room for your partner and children.

Q. Your best teacher in business

A. There is no single person - I always learnt a lot from the people around me. The best leader is always your team; they know how to handle tasks and deal with issues and that is how you learn the most. As for leadership skills, I often learnt those from my direct bosses or persons closely working with me. I took a cue or two from them to learn things, and at times, how not to do something.

Q. Key management lessons for young people

A. Be curious, be prepared to take some risks and definitely go the extra mile to get outside your comfort zone. Take additional responsibility even if you are not asked and the task lies way beyond your job description.

Q. Two essential qualities a leader must have

A. A leader should have a lot of good qualities built on the solid foundation of strong values. In my view, a good manager should display trust. Be honest, trust others and be trustworthy. Also, learn to inspire others to do their best. Infuse your team with positive energy and fuel and support ideas, creativity and teamwork.

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