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In keeping with Pragati Leadership’s 3-decade-long endeavor to encourage Wholesome Leadership across industries and sectors, we instituted the Inspiring and Successful Leadership Awards (ISLA) in 2022. Through these awards, we highlight leaders who have successfully motivated and steered their organizations to business and social excellence and demonstrated how to merge Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit into their working styles. As a platform for celebrating exemplary leaders and adjudicated by jury members renowned in industry or academia as much as in society, the ISLA Awards carry a distinct ring of authenticity. 

The 2023 ISLA Awards winners were chosen by a jury comprising Pradeep Mallick (Chairman, The Listening Post, and Former MD, Wartsila India); Dr. Niloufer Aga (Facilitator, Consultant, and Coach, Pragati Leadership); Ninad Karpe (Founder & Partner at 100X.VC) and Dr. Apoorva Palkar (Vice Chancellor, Maharashtra State Skills University). 

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This year’s illustrious list of corporate leaders includes Mr. Rajesh Rathi, the Managing Director of Sudarshan Chemicals, who was recognized as “a truly Wholesome Leader” and chosen for driving his organization’s “global recognition, growth, innovation, and commitment to sustainability and excellence”. Ms. Shivalika Patil (Head – People Practices, Sudarshan Chemicals) received the award on Mr. Rathi’s behalf, while Mr. Naresh Raisinghani, who sits on the company’s Board of Directors, spoke about his experience working with Mr. Rathi. He recalled meeting Mr. Rathi “somewhere in 2004”, overseeing an INR 300 crore company, with a team comprising a person from Sun Chemicals which is one of the largest firms. At the time, Mr. Rathi had spoken about wanting to build a world-class firm and putting in place world-class processes. 

Mr. Raisinghani then remembered meeting Mr. Rathi “about 7 years back”, by which time the INR 300-crore firm had become an INR 800-crore enterprise, but even that had felt “too less” for Mr. Rathi as he was keen on building a firm recognized as among the best firms in the world for pigments. Accordingly, he set up the vision – and a target of around INR 5,000 crores – that could see Sudharshan Chemicals become the third-largest pigment player in the world. Today, Sudharshan Chemicals is already worth over INR 2,400 crores – well past halfway to the target, and Mr. Rathi has set up a plant whose capacity would help close in on the INR 5,000-crore figure. Mr. Raisinghani was proud to state, on Mr. Rathi’s behalf, that the world’s number one and number two’s company product portfolios, often considered among the most difficult to achieve, would be manufactured in Pune – in India. For him, that defined the visionary in Mr. Rajesh Rathi.

In Mr. Rajesh Rathi’s more than 20 years of association with Sudarshan Chemicals, he has bolstered its supremacy in the Indian chemicals industry besides garnering a worldwide reputation for the firm. In translating his vision of making Sudarshan Chemicals a top-tier global pigment manufacturer, Mr. Rathi has overseen the diversification of its product portfolio, which is now available to customers in over 85 countries through more than 60 channel partners – all without compromising on excellence. He is also an unrelenting purveyor of innovation, and under him, the company churns out 30-40 new products every year. The National CSR Excellence Award received by Mr. Rathi for Sudharshan Chemical’s ‘Integrated Village Development Project’ in 2022 testifies to his advocacy of sustainability and social impact.