How trailblazer Manan Shah has catapulted MICL Group to new heights
“Innovation need not be flashy, disruptive; true innovation is seamless, knows how to accommodate the best of services with the least of resources.” -Mr. Manan Shah
As the Managing Director of the MICL Group, Mr. Manan Shah has been instrumental in the company's success since he joined in 2013. His leadership has been significant in achieving impressive cumulative sales of Rs. 5,750 crore as of December 2022, which is a remarkable accomplishment in a relatively short amount of time. Diversification into real estate is a strategic move that can provide long-term growth opportunities for the company. With over 60% of its total revenue now coming from the real estate industry, the MICL Group is well-positioned to continue its success in this sector. Mr. Shah's strategic vision and ability to execute on that vision have been key factors in the company's growth and diversification.
1. What led you to enter the family business and what were the initial years like for you?
When I was young I use to visit our office, during holidays, I was fascinated by the creative efforts that went into the construction of the megastructures like ports that we had built. I was curious on understanding, how can I contribute and expand the legacy further in the development of these iconic structures. This inquisitiveness enhanced my inclination to join my family business. I joined the business in 2013 with a zeal to take my passion for construction and development further, expand the MICL horizons along with it, create a new identity for MICL and establish a significant position in the sector. As a result, the company alongside its EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) operations, also began exploring opportunities in real estate.
The initial years of foraying into real estate were of learning, inspiring, building and innovating for the future. One of the important aspects which have helped the company a long way was to change the product-oriented mindset to that of customer oriented. The new model of operations demanded higher finishing standards as well as solid market research. This has helped us establish to become a strong brand in a short span.
“In hindsight, I believe it was a wise decision” indeed a great way to turn my passion into leading a successful family business. “
2. Can you discuss your leadership style and how it has helped to foster a positive work environment?
My leadership mantra is simple: open discussions. I like to involve every member of the team not just in the brainstorming process but also in the decision-making. This approach fosters a certain personal ownership of the project, urging people to give it their best effort and feel heard and understood, as the top management of the company is heeding their thought. It also helps me gauge the different perspectives of a subject for efficient decision-making, eventually heading to company growth.
As a result, it increases employee trust in my stewardship, fosters a welcoming atmosphere where people are willing to engage in constructive debates and strengthens their trust in me as a leader, and establishes a solid working environment where employees can express their opinions.
3. How do you elevate the standard of living in residential housing to a market like Mumbai?
The simple answer is innovation!
“Innovation need not be flashy, disruptive; true innovation is seamless, knows how to accommodate the best of services with the least of resources.”
-Mr. Manan Shah
(Managing Director of MICL Group)
In our Aaradhya Parkwood project located at Mira Bhayandar, we brought in state-of-the-art things at an affordable rate. The people who are buying these apartments are the middle-income group and lower middle-income groups. We wanted to provide them with a luxury resort stay experience in their dwellings. Hence I amalgamated the idea of resort living with the exotic cruise lifestyle. This combination gave birth to our Swimming Pool Theatre. A complete out-of-the-box living style where one can indulge in swimming and viewing FIFA or Cricket.
In the central suburbs of Ghatkopar our project named Aaradhya One Earth, it’s a development of 3 acres. With nearly 1 million sq. feet of construction area, we were able to secure 1 acre of open space through efficient planning and design strategies. This one acre of open space was landscaped into a central garden which became the major attraction of the project. Here the innovation was having the majority of open spaces on such a small land parcel.
In the journey of a sustainable future, we have installed solar panels on rooftops for most of our projects which reduces the energy bill, produces no greenhouse gases and decreases water pollution. We believe that the development we make should be sustainable and ecological as it should minimize the chances of added cost.
4. Can you discuss a time when you had to navigate a challenging situation and how you handled it?
During my initial year when I joined the organization in 2013, the team had good expertise in EPC Projects. When we ventured into real estate, we had an understanding of the market but the team was still absorbing the knowledge with respect to subjects like architectural designing, finishing and liaisoning in real estate. Our business model was business–to–business but now due to this new endeavor the team also had to adapt to the business-to-customer model. The new form of operations required rigorous market research and better finishing requirements. To mark our name in the real estate sector I had to strengthen my concepts as well improvise my team’s concepts and establish new standards for this journey. Eventually, I did create a dedicated team, and because of the team's size, the progress was varied but effective in the right direction.
However, despite the challenges, we had a strong brand vision and understood the needs of the consumer early on, which kept us in good stead. Further, we also had some help from the EPC experts of the MICL Group. With every success, we aggressively expanded our operations, started setting our new benchmarks and creating new innovations in design and construction. So in fact the challenges that I faced were very well converted into learning opportunities for me as a leader and for my team as the innovators.
5. What are your projections for the future, and how best do you think Mumbai can create a thriving environment for businesses like yours to represent on the global stage?
The best feature of Mumbai as a core market for our real estate development is that it is a diverse market. The city with its vibrant diversity is already international in some ways. It hosts not just high-net-worth individuals but also those from the slums. As a result, developers such as us will always have something to work on, someone to cater to.
Already, we have delivered several projects across distinguishing asset classes and the future aim is to continue expanding our portfolio to serve more people, across different backgrounds. As, for a global presence, we have expanded in Miami now, the first of perhaps many more international projects.
6. What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring developer reading this?
To a fellow player, who is new to the field, my advice would be to treat a project’s development as a work of art and put your heart and soul into it. You ought to be an artist whom people can appreciate, understand and can engage with and not just an artist who serves his own imagination. The day a developer understands, what his people would love, wish, and want in terms of development only then one can establish their mark. Once you can cater to the needs of the people in the best way possible, you are already a leader.
In my career, I have personally striven to understand the local dynamics and the preferences of our targeted audience before designing any of our projects. As result, MICL has always enjoyed not just whooping/exciting sales figures but also a strong brand reputation. To all aspiring developers, I would recommend applying this approach for superlative brand image and sales.
7. As an entrepreneur and an MD. Kindly tell us about your entrepreneurship journey and some of your achievements in business.
In 2013 when I joined the company I had the vision to diversify & grow in the real estate space. Coming from the EPC background the company had insights by working with the major developers which in turn helped us in establishing a robust network in the real estate sector. Hence we successfully diversified into real estate. The new business constitutes around 60% of the revenue as on December 2022. We have built a real estate portfolio of 3.0 Million square feet of ongoing and upcoming projects.
We as a group are very proud to state we have a proven record with the delivery of 12 real estate projects, all before time. In the year 2022 MICL Group was awarded the “Ethical Brand of The Year Award” by Incredible brands of India Awards and in the 20th Construction World Global Awards MICL Group was awarded “India’s top Challengers 2022”. In 2023 we were awarded the “India Industry Achievement-Civil Construction Awards” by Hurun India.
I have a passion for innovation which helps me to be the in-house incubator for the real estate division and manage a much-diversified portfolio and spearhead MICL Group. Since the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey in 2013, the company’s turnover has more than doubled, while profits have surged by around 250% as on December 2022 compared to the financial year of 2013. This has been possible due to the talented team with innovation in architecture, meticulous attention to detail and on-site expertise.