Lifetime Achievement: YM Deosthalee, chairman, L&T finance holdings
It’s hard to give up a hobby and more so if it’s a passion. But although YM Deosthalee was always enchanted by Hindustani classical music and wanted to give it a lot more time, that dream lost out to his career. Managing both the margins and the music simply wasn’t possible. The gainer was of course the Larsen & Toubro Group where Deosthalee held the financial reins from the time when the rupee was valued at just 7 to the dollar. Like the rupee, YMD is also nudging 70. Under his watch, L&T’s treasury remained robust with the team making sure risks were assessed thoroughly and hedged where possible. Currencies, foreign exchange, commodities — Deosthalee and his team tracked every market closely even as India’s financial sector evolved.
Between 1995 — when he was appointed to the L&T board — and 2012 when he moved to L&T Finance, the company’s balance sheet grew at a compound annual growth rate of 22.2 per cent. That in itself is a breathtaking pace but more than the growth it was diversification into a host of new areas — hydrocarbons, roads, ports, airports — that was daunting. His love for classical music must have helped him cope with the stress.
As he says, ever since he first heard the raag Purya Dhanashree as a young student, he was captivated and it remains his favourite raag. Even though he didn’t complete his training — he was under the tutelage of a renowned exponent of the kirana gharana — Deosthalee is ever willing to sing for a cause. He’s a regular on the CD that’s compiled every year with CXOs singing for kids, crooning the Hindi film hits of the Bollywood singers of yesteryears he admires so much. Although he typically chooses serious numbers, once in a while he experiments with a lighter song like “Ae mere zohrajabeen” from the film Waqt.