(April 2, 2022) The coronavirus pandemic brought many businesses to a grinding halt. But there was one mobile brand that continued to achieve more than 100 percent growth year after year. It also went on to become the first brand to have the largest portfolio of 5G devices. And the man helming its success is an Indian CEO. Meet Madhav Sheth, CEO, realme India, and president, realme International Business Group.
Design has always been top priority for this 41-year-old CEO. This year’s edition of the FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week witnessed a rather innovative collaboration – one that blended fashion and mobile tech. On day one of the event, realme partnered with couturier duo, Shantanu and Nikhil, to present environmental friendly, innovative, and sustainably driven design aspects in the mobile phone industry.
— Madhav Sheth (@MadhavSheth1) March 25, 2022
Madhav tells Global Indian, “Ground breaking design has always been a core aspect at realme. This goes back to the first smartphone we launched in India. We believe in pushing the boundaries of innovation.”
The brand plans to launch an e-waste recycling project by setting up recycling spots at its offices and experience stores, across 30 Indian cities. “We will continue to bring more environment-friendly products and help build a greater and greener world,” says this Indian CEO. Incidentally, the upcoming realme GT 2 Pro device features an industry-first bio-based polymer Paper Tech Master design.
Sustainable lifestyle choices are important to preserve earth. Which is why we at realme decided to make #realmeGT2Pro as the World’s First Sustainably Designed Smartphone. Let’s do our bit together!#EarthHour
— Madhav Sheth (@MadhavSheth1) March 26, 2022
Making of a leader
Compared to other brands in the personal technology space, it took Madhav just four years to transform the brand end-to-end. Recalling his “golden days” at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania, he says, “It was quite a learning experience for me. One of the most essential things I learned was how to judge success. For me, success is to achieve what I’ve planned. I also learnt to believe that success was not just limited to achieving goals, but also in the sense of contentment upon achieving them.”
Madhav attributes his student years for laying the foundation of leadership. He says, “My years at university taught me a great deal about leadership – the essence of becoming a good leader and how to steer through work, the art of developing strategies and executing plans as well as to bring innovation and disruption with everything I do. Over time, I’ve come to see how crucial it is for a leader to be selfless.”
The importance of values
This Indian CEO learnt to appreciate values such as humility and time management. “I’ve tried to implement these in my professional life and I am delighted to share that they’ve helped me establish realme as one of the world’s top six smartphone brands. Being a leader or a CEO means being available for the team and users.”, says the honcho adding, “Time management is of utmost significance. Every minute makes a big difference – it is one of the marquee aspects of leadership.”
With Madhav helming realme, the brand has expanded into markets beyond India, “Today, we have expanded our footprint to 61 countries. It is the youngest smartphone brand to be among the Top 6 as well as the No 5 android smartphone brand globally.”
The CEO believes that adopting new technologies is key to growth in a rapidly-evolving technology market. “Our 5G portfolio has been a key growth driver. According to the latest Counterpoint Research report, realme’s 5G shipments have grown the most among all major smartphone brands with a 165 percent YoY growth in Q4, 2021. The achievement has been fueled by the company’s expansion into western European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, the UK, and Switzerland,” he explains.
‘Take the leap, beta’
Madhav dedicates his success to his family, who encouraged him to “take the leap.” The Indian CEO says, “Coming from a moderate background, there was a lot at stake to become an entrepreneur. Your family’s trust and encouragement plays a significant role. I learnt to be a resilient, agile, and diligent person from my parents,” he adds.
The biggest testimony to Madhav’s family support is the fact that the founding brand tagline of realme is “Dare to leap,” and his vision follows the same path. “Being a tech disruptor, I want users to be future-ready and experience new technologies and innovations,” he says. In the coming months, he predicts, “With the ongoing conversation on 5G technology, the industry will see a great shift and technological advancement soon.”
Commitment to India
Madhav believes that India is the origin of realme’s dream and among the important markets, responsible for the company’s tremendous growth – It accounts for 60 million of the world’s 126 million users.
The Indian CEO says, “Most realme products are India-first, because that’s how important the market is to us.”
Focus, discipline and stamina
Outside of work, Madhav is a balance of wellbeing and fun. “I begin my day with meditation and yoga. It allows me to have a much more peaceful start to the day with a laser sharp focus. I also workout regularly to inculcate discipline and stamina.”
When he isn’t focussing on wellness and health, Madhav likes to play squash or unwind with a good book. “I used to play the guitar in college and I rekindled this during the lockdown,” says the Indian CEO, who finds washing cars relaxing, and is an avid traveller as well.
As Madhav continues to work towards transforming the smartphone industry, he says, “realme was the first brand in India to launch a 5G smartphone and has had the maximum number of 5G launches. It has been a rewarding and enriching journey filled with many lessons and rewards.”