Tribute: O P Munjal - A gentleman industrialist, a force to reckon with!

J. Walter Thompson's Colvyn Harris pays tribute to Hero Group's O P Munjal as he reveres his thoughtfulness, generosity, keen eye for detail, and his love for poetry

e4m by Colvyn Harris
Updated: Aug 14, 2015 9:18 AM
Tribute: O P Munjal - A gentleman industrialist, a force to reckon with!

I have the fondest memories of Shri O. P. Munjal. My relationship with the family goes back nearly 30 years, when Ludhiana was at its highest security alert. Sunil Gupta and I went off to meet him to pitch for the Hero Cycles business.

We won the account on the back of the positioning of being The World's No. 1 bicycle manufacturer and thereafter began our long and cherished relationship with the Hero family. 

OP Munjal’s story is the story of industrialisation and  manufacturing - what  is touted today as 'Make in India' was a story started way back then with the Munjal family. 

I have distinct memories of walking the shop floor with him - he knew every employee by name and explained the process of cycle manufacturing - insights for modern day processing valid even today.

 30 years ago Hero made 10,000 cycles a day - already a world record and that spirit of leadership and position continues.  

He had the utmost respect of his people and his caring attitude was legendary. Anyone who has ever met him would know how he would give us lunch and a thoughtful gift every time, besides his annual vacation which always had us visiting him wherever  he holidayed that year. His way of giving us a break. 

His sharp mind and eye for detail was equally legendary and every interaction proved that. 

Many owe him - their careers, their first breaks in life, their livelihood - we do too!

The anecdote that impressed us most was during lunch at his home - a story of him and his elder brother Shri B. M. Munjal. The verandah had 2 mirrors on opposite walls where the brothers shaved every morning, and in the reflection of the mirrors was where they shared their plans for the company, and what they wanted to do. 

He was a wise and a good man. To agency folks, he always gave confidence - a rarity nowadays. 

He was a lover of ‘Sher Shayari’ (poetry). His creativity and wit for a situation was most often exuded at moments when he would aptly break into an appropriate, timely verse. I'm sure that his sense of humour kept his success grounded. His annual famed Diary which we got every year was a tradition he continued.

We shall miss him. His passing is that moment in time when we remember the great man he was and the legend he is.

 RIP Shri O. P. Munjal. It's the cycle of life, and that too well spent. 

The author is Executive Director Global Growth & Client Development at J. Walter Thompson Company.

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