Sanjay Gulati

Managing Director, Principal – Gensler (Interview Part-1)

As the Managing Director of Gensler’s Bangalore office, Sanjay Gulati leads the core effort in building the company’s business portfolio in India. With extensive industry experience spanning over 31 years as an Architect, consultant, designer, and project manager on varied projects and across industries, his contributions to the field are truly significant. He reveals that his journey as an architect was not by choice, owing to limited career options available to young people to explore in those days. Being a bright student in school, he chose to pursue the sciences and had no knowledge about what the field of architecture had to offer; his foray into the industry was purely coincidental, he admits. After committing to his various roles throughout the years, however, he realized the potential and immense value he could add and consequently emerged as one of the most respected and influential contributors in the design fraternity today.

Sanjay began his career with the Planners Group in Delhi, and worked there for two years followed by a eleven-year stint with Jyoti Rath. These initial years of his career were elemental in helping frame his ideologies, including his understanding of technical processes as well as developing his signature style as an architect. Those foundational years with Jyoti Rath were instrumental in shaping the building blocks of his work ethic, which includes discipline, design quality and attention to detail.  His journey with Jyoti Rath Associates was where he developed the creative side of his skill set in terms of detailing, engineering, logistics, and the way to build good projects.

One has to keep challenging themselves and venture out of their comfort zone if they want to be successful in life!

Sanjay joined the JLL Group in 2004 and rendered services for four years. His experience in JLL was quite different from that with Jyoti, where in JLL he had a lot of learning about the business framework, how large projects are managed, brand positioning, delivery, managing large accounts, managing large clients, and then the main part of how to grow the business. From 2004 with 91 employees JLL grew to 400 by 2008. He recalls learning that one has to keep challenging themselves and get out of their comfort zone if they have to be successful in life from his mentor, Martin Hinge.

In another part of his journey with AIG, he honed his client relationship capabilities while working with developers, learning about their mindset, how they think, why they build, how much they spend, why they spend, and why they hold back spending. Later, he started his own business in Delhi and ran it around for three years before he got an offer from the largest design firm in the world, Gensler. He quoted that “it was one of the most defining moments of my career.”

He added, “there were different defining moments when I chose different paths. One of them was after joining JLL when I listened to my mentor, Martin Hinge, and moved to Bangalore. Learning is a never-ending process, and I learned a lot from Jyoti and Martin Hinge. I have been very fortunate to have these people influence my career path and who have been pivotal in creating these defining moments.”

Journey with Gensler

“Every architect’s aspiration is to work for the best and largest design firm in the world. For me, it was realized, when Gensler approached me to join their team. It was like a dream; I had the opportunity to increase Gensler’s footprint in India when they were just beginning to do business here. Gensler India started in 2012 and I joined in 2014. That was when it was starting to acquire business in the local market. Today, Gensler is one of the largest international design firms in India which has a formidable local presence of more than 100 architects, working with leading corporates and developers.” Sanjay expressed that they have since been winning large projects, delivering pioneering work in the local market, and being fortunate to work with great clients.

At some organisations, people have the Monday blues where they don’t feel like going into work, and this happens because they either don’t have a good working environment or good managers. The best thing about Gensler is, it is a people-owned firm, he added. Its philosophy is hire the best and get out of their way. Gensler believes in giving their professionals enough autonomy to excel, but at the same time, provide the necessary governance to ensure they uphold the firm’s benchmarks for high quality and integrity. They allow designers to experiment and support those with new ideas; especially those who are willing to go where no one has ventured, like new projects or new practice areas. To be continued>>