I just returned from a trip to India, where I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with P.R. Kothari, who leads strategy for Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
As my colleague and The Founder’s Mentality co-author Chris Zook noted nearly six years ago in the Harvard Business Review, L&T is one of about 100 companies that has managed to consistently deliver sustained, profitable growth over the past two decades or more. In India, as Chris noted this year in The Economic Times, it’s one of only three companies—along with Tata Group and Aditya Birla Group—that have remained among the top 15 companies by market cap or the equivalent since 1970.
Mr. Kothari has been there almost all that time. Having worked at L&T for 45 years, he has one of the longest tenures there, though not as long as L&T Chairman A.M. Naik, who has served for more than 50 years in the company. Started by two Danes (you guessed it, Henning Holck-Larsen and Søren Kristian Toubro) in 1938, L&T holds leading positions across several strong businesses in technology, engineering, construction, manufacturing and financial services. With $17 billion in revenue, it has grown by over 15% annually in the last 10 years. Oh, and one fun fact: L&T’s first bridge was built for the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Although most of his businesses are enjoying double-digit growth, Mr. Kothari is already thinking about next-generation businesses that will take the company forward for years to come. In other words, he’s thinking about what we call Engine 2.