Mr. Ajita Rajendra

Awarded: 2015

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Chairman and Chief Operating Officer @ A. O. Smith Corporation
1976 - BTech - Chemical Engineering

Shri Ajita Rajendra graduated with a B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1976, and subsequently obtained his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1978. He has since held a wide range of finance, operations, marketing, and executive management positions at numerous leading organizations such as Corning Inc., Kennametal Inc., etc. through the course of his 36-year career in American industry, excelling in each of them. He is currently the Chairman and CEO at A.O. Smith Corporation, a global leader in water heating and treating technologies. Shri Rajendra was elected to the A.O. Smith Board of Directors in December 2011.

Of particular note is his tremendous contribution to improving the quality of life in India by generating employment and investing in a large manufacturing facility in the Bengaluru area. Shri Rajendra has been the driving force behind A.O. Smith's implementation of a large-scale manufacturing facility for water heaters in Harohalli, Bengaluru. The investment of $ 25-30 million was greenfield - adding capacity by purchasing land and building a factory, rather than simply purchasing existing assets. The factory, established in 2010, manufactures residential water heaters specially designed for robust use in the Indian subcontinent, and is now adding capability to manufacture water purification products. The Company is growing its business while generating employment in India, and providing a technologically advanced product to the Indian consumer. A.O. Smith continues to invest its proceeds from this operation back into the Indian business, benefiting the community greatly. The Company exclusively uses national talent in India, and consequently there are no expatriates in Harohalli. Current employment is about 400, of which approximately 50 are professionals.

Shri Rajendra's professional accomplishments are reflected in the various corporate awards he has been a recipient of, such as the Corporate Marketing Award in three different years, and the highly-regarded Individual Outstanding Contributor Award from the Board of Directors of Corning. Further, he was elected as the Chairman of the Air conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a major industry trade organization. His extensive involvement in community activities makes him a truly respected business leader, as does his serving on various prestigious Boards in a leadership capacity. He is a Director of Donaldson Company, Inc. and The Timken Company. He was a Board Member of the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association and of the Tennessee Business Roundtable.

In recognition of Shri Ajita Rajendra's focus on bringing manufacturing excellence to India, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer upon him this award.

© 2017 Indian Institute of Technology Madras.