Achievers of Maharashtra

(Biosketch of Marathi NRI Entrepreneur… )

Dr. Dinesh Keskar

President, Boeing India, Sr.Vice President (Asia Pacific), Boeing International

BL07 BOEING DINESH 684225f12th Feb. 2017. Dr. Dinesh was just back from Singapore after making a 13.8 billion dollar deal with Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines agreed to a firm order for 39 wide-body jets from Boeing in a deal that would help the carrier expand and update its fleet. The deal for 20 Boeing 777 9s and 19 Boeing 787 10 ‘Dreamliners’ would be valued as $ 13.8 billion at the list prices.

I asked him a question that had been baffling me, “How do you sell an airplane?”

Dr. Dinesh’s face assumed an amused smile. I quickly added, “I mean what does it take to sell an airplane?”

“Your personal relationship with people do count a lot. When someone is buying an airplane from you like Singapore Airlines , or Jet Airways, or Spice jet, it is not a relationship that lasts only for 3-4 years. The relationship is built over decades. The planes they buy stay in their fleet for 20-25 years. Air India is still flying the same planes I sold them in 1991. So, relationship is important. The second factor is “trust” which is a must. Third factor is the comfort you should be able to give to the buyer, “Day or night, anytime you call me I will get up and solve your problems”. You cannot say how can I do this? These are the three priorities. The fundamental factor is that our offer may be more expensive than others, but still the buyers buy airplanes from me because they know my company and I will be there when needed. Over the years, I have demonstrated that. It’s not just about selling aircraft but building a relationship and history with the airline, and how the two partners work together to build trust. When an Airline like Singapore Airlines buys planes from us, the other airlines follow, because Singapore Airlines is one of the top exemplary airlines and a trend-setter.”

“I cover the entire Asia and up to New Zealand. I sell planes also to the small Islands like Hawaii, Fiji or Tahiti. They need only a few planes. But selling them is sometimes more prestigious. In Tahiti, I have sold only four planes but they had used only Airbus planes prior to that. So, selling them some Boeings by pushing out Airbus is sweeter than selling 50 planes. I have been doing this for long. It is kind of fun. During 2009-2012, I was stationed in India to sell commercial planes to open up Defence market. But eventually I returned to my original forte of commercial planes.”

Dinesh Keskar was born in Rajkot in a middle-class family in July 1954. Dinesh’s grandfather too was a brilliant academician, and had written books on the subject of Statistics. Dinesh’s father Mr. Achyut Yashwant Keskar was an educationist teaching Chemistry in Dharmendra Singhji College in Rajkot. Dinesh was the second born of the three sons of Nalini and Achyut Keskar. When Dinesh was five, Sri Achyut decided to move to some place in Maharashtra and chose Amravati over Mumbai as the palce to settle, so that his sons could study in Marathi, their mother tongue.

BL14 01 DREAM 2 693070fDinesh went to Manibhai Gujrathi high School in Amravati. He was the top merit student in his final year of high school, and stood 8th rank in entire Maharashtra. His father bought a two-wheeler scooter for Dinesh in appreciation of his excellence in the final year of his school education. Then a sad tragedy befell Keskar family when Dinesh’s gather died in an accident while he was in Mumbai. Dinesh was only 16 years old boy; and the family underwent a trauma, but eventually managed to get by. Dinesh’s mother looked after the family and educated her three sons very well.

After his B.E., Dinesh wanted to study further in the field of Aerospace Engineering. Unfortunately at that time there were no colleges in India offering any such course. Dinesh wanted to go to USA to pursue further studies. Because of his Gold Medal excellence, he could get admission in many universities in US, but he chose University of Cincinnati mainly because Neil Armstrong taught there. Young Dinesh took this decision all by himself as there was nobody to guide him. He received Tata Scholarship, known as J.N. Tata Endowment Scholarship which was basically a student loan and when one starts working. It was a prestige to get this scholarship.

Because of Neil Armstrong, Dinesh could do the practical training in Flight Test and Control System Design etc. at NASA during his PhD candidature. This is where he was spotted and was offered a job at Boeing Co. after completion of his PhD. At Boeing, from 1980 to 1986, he was responsible for research and consultation in the areas of system identification, digital signal processing and modern control theory.

After his PhD, Dr. Dinesh started his career as an Engineer and now is Sr. Vice President, Boeing International. This ascent has been interesting and again unique. Boeing employs about 160,000 personnel. Out of this huge number, only about 70 people are directly involved in frontline sales. Dr. Dinesh says, to get into sales is tough, because there are so many people competing. But once you get there, you can rise with your track record, tenacity and credibility. He says, he completely believes in being at the right place at the right time. There is no fixed formula to rise to the top. There are only five Vice Presidents that cover the entire world. It is a huge responsibility. Boeing makes commercial as well as military airplanes. 70% revenue comes from sale of commercial planes. Dr. Dinesh has done more than 300 billion dollars of sale so far.

Major achievement

• In June 1999 Dr. Dinesh Keskar was honored with the 'Distinguished Alumni Award' by the University of Cinacinnati for meritorious achievement.

• In September 2006, he received the Outstanding Achievement award from the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin.

 

( Received with thanks from Garje Marathi by Suneeta and Aanand Ganu, published by Granthali)