(March 16, 2023) In September 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged the growing number of Indian-origin CEOs taking over major global firms. India, with 58 CEOs of top tier companies, is second only to the US, according to the S&P top 500 companies list. This elite tribe has only increased, with one more addition made to the list on March 15 – Honeywell veteran Vimal Kapur has been named CEO of the multinational conglomerate. “Honeywell is playing a major role in making the world a better place, and I am both proud and humbled to take on the CEO role of this great company,” the Global Indian said, after the announcement was made.
Expanding operations in India
The world is bullish on India, and Kapur, who was at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2023, told CNBC’s Shereen Bhan on the sidelines that the conglomerate was looking to expand its operations here. “Our businesses are more resource intensive.. We have raised up to hire more people and I think in the context of India, our base is very large. So as India grows, we are set up for growth. We will just lift up our game, to grow with India.”
“Kapur brings 34 years of deep knowledge about our businesses, end markets and customer needs. His ability to drive our key sustainability and digitalisation strategic initiatives, along with his advancements of our world-class operating system – Honeywell Accelerator – throughout the organisation, gives him an outstanding platform to drive performance for our shareholders,” Adamzczyk said, when the announcement was made.
From Patiala to Houston
Born in India in 1966, not much is known about Kapur’s early life. He did, however, graduate with a degree in electronics engineering, with a specialisation in instrumentation, from the Patiala Institute of Engineering in Punjab, and joined Honeywell in 1989. In his 34 year association with the company, he has served in key leadership roles across the business, heading various verticals including Performance Materials and Technologies, Honeywell Building Technologies and Honeywell Process Solutions.
In 2018, Kapur took over Honeywell Building Technologies, leading the business through a period of change, instilling an intense operational and customer focus. This was during the first wave of smart buildings, which are characterised by connected and energy-efficient systems.
Smart buildings: Leading the way
As the demand for smart buildings grew, firms like Honeywell Building Technologies played a key role in their growth story,. with Kapur at the helm. Things had changed dramatically from the 1970s, when buildings and those who designed them did not consider comfort and energy-efficiency as important parameters. These issues were first broughtinto the spotlight when the advent of digital technologies. Building systems were given an overhaul – they were modified, recreated, connected and automated to digitize and aggregate data. “This was the firs step towards making building smart,” Kapur said in 2020, back when he was the President and CEO at Honeywell Building Technologies. “Now, there is an opportunity to make buildings even smarter and take them to the next level.”
One major transition was involving the building’s occupants as key stakeholders to the process, giving them a say in design, development and operations. “Machine Learning, predictive maintenance technologies and other such advancements are making building maintenace a lot smarter,” Kapur told Construction Week. With people becoming more aware of the perils of climate change, the demand for green buildings also grew – “Honeywell has always concentrated on meeting these needs in the industry,” he said. As the President and CEO of HOneywell Materials and Technologies, Kapur guided the vertical through an oil and gas downturn, helping the company return stronger than ever before..
Kapur was named President and COO in July 2022 and has been leading the creation of solutions to help customers drive sustainability transformations and accelerate their digital transformation. One year prior, in 2021, he was named the President and CEO of PMT, based in Houston. He took the mantle from another Indian, Rajeev Gautam, who retired on August 13, 2021, ending a 43-year career with Honeywell. “Throughout Vimal’s more than three decades with Honeywell, he has proved his outstanding leadership capabilities and deep knowledge of our end markets,” Adamczyk, who was the Chairman and CEO of Honeywell at the time, said about the appointments.