Pradip Chopra, Chairman and Managing Director, PS Group shares vital aspects of real estate development with Aniruddha Banerjee.
Time has changed… indeed it has. Most of us have adapted to that change, and have conveniently changed our value-system to ‘fit-into’ the changed paradigm. That is where PS Group differs from the ‘rest of the lot’. For the last 25 years, they have set their vision ‘to become one of the most respected names in real estate, globally’. Yes ‘respected’! One must confess that a desire to earn respect in the real estate industry is quite a tall task. Many have not even bothered to achieve it. But PS Group always has and still values the essence of earning respect in this industry. And the last 25 years’ venture of PS Group goes on to prove that it has already earned compelling success in its ‘pursuit for respect’. Our meeting with Mr. Pradip Chopra, Chairman and Managing Director of PS Group, helped us find the secret of their success.
One brief look at his Kolkata office cabin is enough to know how much he values knowledge and wisdom. Sitting in his super-clean cabin, filled with racks of endless books, he smiles and says, “Respect is time-tested. If any businessman emphasises on earning respect through his ventures, success will automatically follow.” His credentials prove this beyond doubt. Apart from taking PS Group to a national-level success, Mr. Chopra holds several important positions in numerous associations. He is the founder Regional Chairman of the Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZ Units, Governing Board Member of CREDAI (Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India), Vice President of CREDAI Bengal, Chairman of Education Committee, CREDAI, Board Member of Jain Vishwabharati University, Chairman of IMC of Women ITI and ITI for physically challenged boys and girls. This is the reason why his industry friends fondly address him as ‘Professor Chopra’.
But this achievement is not an overnight miracle. A lot has gone into building this empire of respect. Talking about the journey so far, he says, “The odds were very tall when we started. The real estate market was vastly unorganised and full of improper elements. The license system was quite rigid and the banking system was completely state-controlled. Therefore, the concept of easy home-loan was almost absent at that point of time, which meant that there were hardly any buyers. Only few retired servicemen could afford to buy houses or flats. Middle-class was completely deprived of such facilities.”
But PS Group has sensed well in advance that real estate and infrastructure will be critically vital for societal development in near future. That is why they felt it worth fighting the existing odds if it promises a golden future. That vision of PS Group is a proven fact now. Mr. Chopra says, “With relaxation of licensing and banking system, gradually the market opened up. Very soon, real estate industry turned out to be one of the hottest sectors of the country. Shopping malls, retail, IT parks, residential complex – everything is growing exponentially. And we feel honoured to have the love, support and respect of our customers.”
Earning customers’ support, in an industry which is on a huge swing, is a demanding challenge. When asked to single out the factors which have helped them earn that support, he promptly replies, “PS Group is loved by customers simply because we support our customers to take ‘educated decisions’ and provide them with ‘good value for money’. Frankly speaking, that is what every customer looks for, but rarely gets!” Yes, PS Group is widely acclaimed for helping customers and this is proven through several reader-friendly books written by Mr. Chopra, such as, “How to Choose & Look After Your Dream Apartment”, “Simple Tools for Complex Living”, “How Green is Your Housing Complex”, “Your Guide to Prevent and Fight Fire in a Housing Complex”, “Be Money Smart”, etc. His educating endeavours are widely appreciated not only by the home building industry, home seekers, apartment residents, but also by the student community and general readers.
While talking about the present challenges of the industry, he reveals, “Making money is not the challenge. The real challenge is making ‘affordable houses’. Land (Urban Land) has still remained a major hurdle in West Bengal. Already six states of India have adopted modern land model by empowering the industry to buy land directly from the landowners. Sadly, West Bengal has not accepted that model yet. But wherever we are working, we are trying to come up with efficient designs and intelligent usages of materials so that customers’ affordability is properly taken care of.”
One must agree that such an empire of trust and growth would have been impossible to build, if the right kind of manpower was not there to build it. Mr. Chopra acknowledges it by saying, “We are lucky to have a talented and dedicated human capital by our side. But getting tailor-made manpower is very tough since Indian institutes and universities hardly have courses for our industry. So, we depend a lot on in-house training and developmental modules to make them industry-fit. Recently, we tied up with St. Xaviers for a course on real estate industry.”
If the demand is so high, and supply so less, then retention of quality manpower must be a tough task! He smiles, “Quality employees are getting around 30 per cent salary hike for last five years. Under such a huge pressure, we have been able to keep our annual attrition rate around one per cent.” This is indeed an achievement. Revealing the secret behind this achievement, he says, “People are with us because they acknowledge the value of the people-development schemes we master. Employees here are highly valued and respected. We have a culture of equal treatment to people. Everyone, irrespective of status, shares the same facilities. All of us, including me, have our lunch at the same place, share the same washroom and have almost the same food. This strengthens our bonding.” Sharing his thoughts on work-life balance, he adds, “Balancing work and life is also a critical factor. We believe in punctuality and, this allows us to balance our work and life.”
For their upcoming global ventures, their core values will definitely play a critical role. After all, they are in the business of shaping the city’s landscape as well as its citizens’ lives!
Virtually Inspired Nomads
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Commented by Rahul Sharma on August 27,2011