Man of many seasons, many missions
   Date :25-Sep-2022

R Ramakrishnan
 R Ramakrishnan
By Vijay Phanshikar :
As a boy in late teens, he rode bicycle for kilometers on end to complete assignments that were expected to take him forward in his chosen career. Today, he travels literally countless thousands of kilometers mostly by air not just in India but across the world to meet influential people in business and policy-making -- making critical contribution to the human story of economic growth, dealing in hard numbers and soft decisions. But beyond these travels of physical kilometers, Mr. R. Ramakrishnan, founder of aXYKno Capital head-quartered in Nagpur, has travelled countless spiritual kilometers as well -- participating in activities beyond his personal growth, such as the Vivekananda Kendra, the Vidnyan Bharati, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). Looking back, both these journeys appear exciting, to say the least. But when Mr. Ramakrishnan was taking early steps, the road was undulated and the journey arduous. All such efforts do bring along an immense sense of satisfaction, an innate sense of joy -- of having made significant contribution to both, individual as well as collective growth.
Having made it to the top of league in investment banking in the global as well as national space, Mr. Ramakrishnan, Rama to friends, can look back on his physical and spiritual kilometers -- only to look forward to the road ahead, full of challenge, full of invitation to excel, full of opportunity. Currently, aXYKno is ranked among the top 10 Cross Border Merger and Acquisition Groups as per Bloomberg League Table, with presence in over 50 countries. This became possible by forming with others an alliance of investment banking called Globalscope with headquarters in London. The members of this alliance meet twice in a year, in Europe and in Asia to celebrate and chart the road ahead, Mr. Ramakrishnan says with a radiant smile as he remembers also how he competes with global institutions and agencies such as Bank of America and J.P. Morgan among others.
“In 9 out of 10 bids, we make it to the pole, I am happy to note that between aXYKno Capital, Globalscope and Eartha & Mackintosh Global Partners, we are among the top 10. At the national level, aXYKno is in top 10 in Transaction Advisory,” he adds. Of course, to every success story, there invariably is a personal angle as well, and Mr. Ramakrishnan is no exception. Coming from a family of very moderate means, he cleared examinations for Chartered Accountant (CA), Institute of Cost and Works Accountant, and Civil Services in one go in 1998. However, instead of appearing for the Civil services interview, Mr. Ramakrishnan chose the entrepreneurial path by starting a boutique firm with what he describes as “almost zero capital, a bicycle and just a visiting card ... with no office, no computer or even a land-line telephone”. Times, of course, were tough -- with father having retired earlier, and the young Mr. Ramakrishnan not having even Rs. 750 for acquiring the mandatory CA certificate that would allow him to start practice. The telephone came one year later, and the computer after two long years. To make things look bleak, the first year of all those countless miles on bicycle over distances that would frighten even a rider of a powered vehicle, produced a ‘grand’ income of Rs. 2,000 only.
Yet, despite all the hard work and merciless schedule, there was no loss of excitement. It must have been a mad focus, but that is what brings much excitement, much to look forward to. The second year brought in Rs. 60,000 and the third ended with Rs. 2,00,000 in income -- giving the young fellow so much confidence those many years ago. There is yet another personal anecdote to recall. Even after he had started working for himself, operating out of his Narendra Nagar’s family residence, the young Rama had not ventured to what he felt was the posh West High Court Road -- having been bogged down with lack of self-confidence. But the contrast that life presents now is simply amazing. Today, the boy who did not dare to visit one of Nagpur’s posh streets spends much of his time in hotels and offices on posh streets the world over, mingles with high and mighty in India and abroad. As his boutique firm -- R. Ramakrishnan Associates -- started making some sense out of itself, Mr. Ramakrishnan started making some break-throughs. But the real ones came when “we started carving out a niche for ourselves through Business Model Innovation (BMI) for blue chip companies with whose leadership teams at the Tata Group, the Adani Group, the Aditya Birla Group, JK Lakshmi Group for example, we would present a playbook with new ideas that those entities should adopt. Our presentations were high class, I must say, and well researched strategic playbook”, Mr. Ramakrishnan recalls. Obviously, all this has now become routine, but an exciting one.
That is Mr. Ramakrishnan’s special trait -- excitement plus enthusiasm plus focus on detail. Yet, at the aXYKno, he is not involved in a daily grind of administration. He is the company’s mentor, with only a rare operational involvement. aXYKno also enjoys mentorship of more than 50 successful entrepreneurs, many of whom occupy leadership positions in top companies. “Today, aXYKno has a robust professional board with internal and external domain experts,” Mr. Ramakrishnan adds. Mr. Ramakrishnan’s personal life is tinged by spirituality. Even as he participates in hard and hard-core business consultancy activity, he insists upon a happy balance between what he calls “Vedanta and Vyavahar.” Swami Vivekananda is his ideal and idol. “I believe in paying it forward. That is how I realised that my time, energy and sense of mission must be utilised for the benefit of the larger society, of larger causes. This explains my involvement in TiE and with young start-up entrepreneurs. I know, India will have a bright future if the future of each one of us acquires brightness. To that goal I work”. But Rama is not all-work-and-no-play boy. He enjoys happy times at home with his entrepreneur wife and two twin sons. And, to make his life more meaningful, his 92 years old father is always there to guide him.