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Confident humility…

The cruel hand of fate has snatched one of the talented business leaders at his prime, Saint-Gobain India Pvt Ltd’s MD (Flat Glass), R Subramanian.

Subra, as he was known amongst family and friends, fought valiantly for close to 100 days, but finally gave up the battle of life to a rare case of cancer, Grade 3 anaplastic ependymoma.
Encomiums came pouring in from all over. Colleague B Santhanam, MD, Saint-Gobain India Private Ltd described Subra as a uniquely humble, with a can-do attitude, who accomplished big things with least noise and zero ego. A product of IIT-Delhi and a gold medallist from IIM-B, Subra joined Saint-Gobain in 2000, after serving Asian Paints.

Aided evolution of indian glass industry

In several ways, Saint-Gobain has aided the evolution of the modern glass industry in India. In just less than two decades the French major has expanded its investments in glass business in India from Rs 300 crore to around Rs 5000 crore. What started as a simple commodity has evolved into a highly sophisticated definer of its functionality, utility and aesthetics that have impacted so much the evolution of the industry. Subra has made a vital contribution to this evolution. Several institutions like the Glass Academy, Bureau of Energy Efficiency spawned by Saint-Gobain at the national level that take care of the multi-facets of glass owe a lot to this genial giant.
Subra’s company has been making a rich contribution to society like skill development, training in handling and fabricating glass and in its transportation. Santhanam mentioned that the vision and ideas have been implemented with speed and to perfection by Subra.


In my close association with the company, I found Subra a workaholic putting over 70 hours of work a week. Yet he had an excellent work-life balance devoting time to his personal life; a polyglot with in-depth knowledge of Tamil and other southern languages was a voracious reader. He wore his achievements lightly on his head and was remarkably humble. I still remember the confidence he had in Industrial Economist: he requested us to produce and deliver a special issue for the inauguration of the state-of-the-art glass plant
at Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, in just three days!


Anand Tanikella, who headed the Saint Gobain Research India and built the French company’s global research centre at the IIT-M Research Park, referred to the guidance and support extended by Subra that were invaluable in the centre coming out with innovative new products and solutions in rapid succession.
Subra used to describe the focus of his company finding sustainable solutions for the expanding use of glass, meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow. This is exemplified by the broad range of new products and solutions the company has been introducing into the market in a continuous stream.
When he lost his battle to cancer, he was just 53. IE pays tribute to the prized technocrat leader and offers its condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.– SV with inputs from B Santhanam

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