Amit Kapil, Group CIO, Caparo India, on his passion for machines and the value it brings to his life.
Most of Amit Kapil’s 20-year career has been spent in the automotive industry, so it’s only fitting that his passion is closely related to that. As the Group CIO at Caparo India, Amit provides strategic and tactical planning, evaluation, and development of the organisation’s IT systems and business processes. “In my career I’ve always been in a manufacturing environment, always been close to machines,” says Amit. “And that interest in machines goes all the way back to my childhood. It all started with me playing with my bicycle. I don’t mean just taking it out for a round or two. It was about having a fun-filled ride, going on rough roads and terrains, challenging myself. My dad was in the Air Force, so most of my upbringing was in cantonment areas, so I was exposed to nature a lot.
“When I was in Std 9, two friends and I rode our bicycles around 15 km in one go from Hasimara Air Force Station to the Indo-Bhutan border and back. I think this is when I truly discovered my connection with machines (for me a machine is anything that is mechanical). There was a thrill to the ride, and a discovery that a ride like this takes discipline.”
“That ride also taught me the important of maintenance. Whether it’s bicycle or a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler, if regular upkeep is not done then you can’t complete your journey. Care and maintenance are an essential part of the journey. This fact got embossed in my mind early on in life. Also, this fact is applicable to professional and personal relationships as well. You need to work hard to maintain what you have.
“You also need to understand the different components of the machine to see how they complement each other. Years ago, each time my two-wheeler would break down I’d send it off to be repaired. So it was a pain area whenever that happened. I was stuck, I was at a standstill, I was dependent. That kind of situation leaves you cranky.
“So I learnt how to do the repairs, for my bike and car. I’ve become observant of the noises that different parts make. I ensure that I know how to change the parts, whether it’s a headlight, a fuse bulb, or something else. So it’s like fixing your problems, issues and challenges by making sure you’re equipped with that input. You invest the time to learn and put that knowledge to use. I implement similar thought processes in my personal and professional life.”
It teaches you self-management
“Driving is more than just a way to get from one place to another. It’s an opportunity to learn discipline, to control your emotions. In this day and age when traffic and road rage go hand in hand, you have to learn to master your emotions, your anger and show respect to your fellow drivers. For me, driving is a way of self-management and improvement. I track my time and without driving rash or breaking rules see how can I improve my performance. It’s a type of self-assessment, which can be used in your professional life as well.”
Some much needed ‘me-time’
“Driving is a great opportunity for some ‘me-time’; it’s my stress buster. Everybody needs something that de-stress them and clears their mind; driving is what works for me. I spend two hours every Saturday cleaning my car because it gives me a feeling of connection and peace. My drives have also exposed me to the interiors of the nation, the lifestyle there. Also, I take pride in the fact that my friends don’t use Google maps, they ask me for directions! They tell me their destination and when they’re leaving and ask me for the suggested route. I don’t listen to music when I drive, so that gives me the opportunity to look around and be more vigilant and observant. This heightened observation helps me in my professional life too.”
Filling up the garage
“My first two-wheeler was a second-hand green Bajaj Priya scooter that my cousin gifted me when I started my career in 1995. After that I had a Yezdi, which was given to me by my elder brother. Nine years into my professional life I was lucky to get a company car. It was a Hyundai Santro. It 12 years old, but still have the car. Right now I have a Hyundai Creta petrol.
“My next acquisition is a Toyota Fortuner 4×4 AWD, which I hope to own next year. It’s a machine that stands out loud and clear. I perceive a transparency in the logo, which is something I firmly believe in my personal and professional life. I find it very sturdy; whether on rough terrain or smooth roads, it takes care of you. That correlates with how I behave in my professional life. I’m a mentor and coach to my team; I take care of them. So I see this machine as something that takes care of my family and me, our safety, our comfort. The car raises the bar in ground clearance too. We all have hurdles/challenges, but as we raise our bar, we cross these hurdles. So too this machine raises the bar.”
“My dream machine is a Ducati. I’d love to own one. I drove a Ducati for the first time in 2005 in Japan. It was my first international trip and I also got to live my dream of riding a Ducati. That first impression is something that will stay with me for a long, long time. It was a wonderful feeling.
Most memorable road trip
“My longest non-stop drive was for 12 hours from Delhi to Jammu. One road trip that stands out in my mind is the one I did from Delhi to Rishikesh with my wife in 2006. It was our first long drive post-marriage and there were many other firsts. It was the first time I was introduced to mountain sports like rappelling, etc. It was also when my wife tried river rafting despite being scared of water! Now her fear of water and death has done away. We created some wonderful memories on that trip.
“Once I own the Fortuner, the plan it to take one month off and go on a cross country drive with my friend who is also passionate about driving. We’ll travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and from the Rann of Kutch to Meghalaya. That’s a dream trip, and the day I get my car, I will start planning for it.”