From working parents to military veterans, GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. We created “Quick Six” to celebrate our diverse talent by asking employees six questions that uncover the unique ways that they contribute to GE and the world.
When airline customers in India and Indonesia look to expand their aircraft fleet and power plants, one of the first people they’ll meet is GE Aviation’s Regional General Manager of Sales, Vikram Rai.
Since Rai joined the world-leading engine manufacturer as a sales director in 2012, he has had a front-row seat to the burgeoning aviation industry in his native India. He expects it’s only a matter of time before aviation takes off again as the world reels from the impact of the global health pandemic.
The Economic Times in India recently named Rai to its list of 40 under Forty, recognizing the top young business leaders in the country.
This is a high honor, and for our next Quick Six installment, we asked Rai more about what it means to him and how the local aviation industry is growing.
Tell us about being named one of India’s Top 40 young business leaders and what it means to you.
It’s a big achievement, and I think I always wanted to be on that elite list. I owe a lot of credit for that to GE. When I joined GE Aviation in 2012 as a sales director, GE was investing in a young talent. Even though I didn’t go to an ‘Ivy League’ business school, I’ve always had the commercial sense, and was always street smart. GE Aviation has cultivated that and made me who I am.
In 2018, as the country leader in India, one of the sales deals I worked on in partnership with Safran Aircraft Engines was the IndiGo order for CFM LEAP-1A engines and services. At the time that agreement was finalized and announced in 2019, it was the single largest engine order in commercial aviation history.
Last year, I was promoted to Regional General Manager for India, and later for Indonesia, as well. On May 21, IndiGo announced a follow-on order for another 620 LEAP-1A engines from CFM International* to power its fleet long term. This was another record-breaking agreement for the number of engines ordered.
Can you describe the importance of the sales team for collaborating with GE Aviation’s customers around the world?
The sales team is one of the most important functions in GE Aviation because they are the face of GE. Our customers interface through sales or customer support. Sales is generally the first to go in to talk about the product and the value of the product.
The heart of the company is the product and the revenue, and the sales team influences both those areas. It’s important we have a strong sales team that knows the product and knows the customers. Sales is the voice of the customer in GE.
Without that voice of customer, GE would not be able to develop the right products and the right services and be the world leader that we are today.
That local touch that GE brings, that’s also very important. GE Aviation is one of the few organizations with a local, in-country sales team.
What excites you most about working in aviation in the Asia-Pacific region right now and representing GE Aviation in the region?
What excites me the most is every day there’s a new challenge. With high growth markets, there’s the zeal to win campaigns and the zeal to add value to the company in a win-win way for customers.
The global health pandemic has been one of the biggest crises to face aviation. What are the unique challenges for aviation in the Asia-Pacific region and how is GE Aviation helping customers in the region overcome these challenges?
There are two key challenges—the current slowdown, especially in India. We’ll see a short-term impact to the growth story, but long-term, as vaccinations roll out, I think a lot of the travel will be back for corporate and leisure travel. What I’m hearing is face-to-face is still preferred to solve customer problems.
In the meantime, we’re collaborating with customers on their fleet planning to help them preserve cash and maximize flexibility.
Given the size of India and that fact that a majority of Indians have never flown, the market will grow. It’s only a matter of time.
What opportunities do you see ahead for the aviation industry in the region?
India and Indonesia are both growth markets and there’s a solid belief in both countries’ aviation growth story.
What accomplishments, personally and professionally, are you most proud of?
Professionally, the proudest moment was signing the first IndiGo agreement with my Safran counterparts at Paris Air Show in 2019, giving CFM a stronger standing in the Indian market, and globally as well. I’ll always be really proud and excited to think of this deal.
Personally, something I’m looking at is schooling for the underprivileged. I sponsor education for two children and am looking to raise money to open a school for underprivileged kids, to provide education and a proper family or home environment.
*CFM International is a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.