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I discovered a great company with the most iconic brands in audio and a very good reputation in the auto industry……

Few CEO’s would accept a job where three previous ones were shown the door in under 2 years. However, Dinesh Paliwal is not among those. He accepted the leadership position at Harman International even as the company was in dire straits with costs running haywire, a dwindling products line and a shrinking client base.

Already having a storied career at ABB, Paliwal accepted the top job at Harman International as a challenge to revive an iconic company hurtling south and transformed the company from a founder-run, top down culture to one that is customer-centric and innovation driven, including building a diverse board and strong leadership team, expanding the company’s business in high growth emerging markets and instituting best in class operating processes that have resulted in top- and bottom line growth.

Early Days and Education

Born in Agra on December 17, 1957, Dinesh C. Paliwal holds a BS in Physics and Chemistry from St. John's College of Agra University, India in 1976 and MS in Paper Science and Engineering from The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India in 1979. He completed his MBA in Finance from Miami University, Ohio, USA in 1985 and Masters in Applied Sciences and Engineering from Miami University, U.S.A. in 1983.

So the foundations for brilliant career were well and trully laid:

Career Spark

Dinesh C. Paliwal served as a President and CEO of Harman International since July 1, 2007, and was appointed Chairman on July 1, 2008. He led several significant change initiatives at Harman and instituted numerous programs to simplify & strengthen company’s operations. To put the company on a profitable growth trajectory, he transformed the entire company culture from scratch and launched STEP Change Program in mid 2008 so as to introduce best in class business processes which delivered an unprecedented US $ 400 Million in sustained cost savings.

The Start

Dinesh has worked in 6 countries and and lived in 4 continents, including United States, China, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, and India, learning the importance of different work cultures, ethics, discipline and focusing on deliverables. Prior to joining Harman, Dinesh spent 22 years with ABB Group, where he last held the dual roles of President of ABB Group with responsibility for the company’s global P&L, and Chairman/CEO-ABB North America. He eliminated cultural and organizational silos among multiple P&L operations globally to achieve profitable growth for multi-billion North American operations following 18 years of losses.

The Growth

Leading Harman since 2007, Paliwal acted as veteran of the corporate turn-around, who earlier proved his determination at Swiss-based automation provider ABB. Paliwal has overseen development of Clari-Fi, a technology that restores nuances that get lost when music is digitally compressed. Strong demand from clients like Ferrari, BMW, Audi and Chrysler turned Harman into a Wall Street Darling, beating analysts’ earnings estimates 7 quarters in a row. Business grew so fast that Paliwal announced US $ 500 Million share buy-back over the next 3 years.

Problems & Takeover

To bring the company on lucrative path, he transformed company’s culture and launched best in class business processes which delivered an unprecedented $450 million in sustained cost savings. He indentified areas of overspending, placed several processes, as a result brought costs drastically down and heavily invested those savings into company’s R&D in order to deliver on complex projects.

In 18 months, Dinesh built team from scratch. Except for one person, every other person came from outside in order to have a global team. They have a whole new mindset: cultural diversity, different needs & new consumer insights. He recently launched first social-networking technology that serves to warfare drivers’ distraction, meet auto regulations and bring 4G smartphone functionality to the car.

Dinesh with his pioneering leadership, took Harman center stage at the Grammy Awards and on American Idol, where its systems were featured. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and GM rely on Harman, too. A recent core development was Quantum Logic. Harman developed an algorithm to sit on top of compressed music and recreate its profile. Paliwal has cheerfully driven a boom to new technologies and created new solution concepts. Cloud, Connective Lifestyle, Signal Processing and Mobility are areas where Harman has taken a deep dive.

Harman has recently introduced diverse products and technologies, including timely initiatives as its energy efficient GreenEdge Technologies, new acoustics-sound management solutions for electric cars, and a new scalable automotive infotainment system. Dinesh thinks that his global exposure has educated him on importance of work cultures, ethics, discipline, a sense of purpose and focus on deliverables. Whether its food, music, or cultural values, he has a deep appreciation for global diversity, and this is a quality he looks for in his senior team as well.


Dinesh is married to Ila, a renowned Hindustani classical vocalist and philanthropist & have two children Shriya and Aasheesh.

Awards & Accolades

Adjudged as Metro New York Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young and received the Indian American Achiever Award by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in 2010.
'Bestowed with the ‘Pinnacle Award’ as one of the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business by Asian American Business Development Center in 2012.
'Named to Fortune's Business Person of the Year List in 2014.

Professional Affiliations

In addition to the Harman board, Dinesh serves as a member of:

'Board of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Boards TYCO International, ADT and Embarq Corporation
'Business Roundtable based in Washington, DC.
'Economic Advisor to the Governor of Guangdong Province, China for 3 years
'Served as Chairman of National Foreign Trade Council, ABB India Ltd., Lummus Global (An Oil and Gas Technology Company) and Director for US China Business Council, US India Business Council and International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Other Affiliations

'Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
'Tyco International Ltd.
ABB India Limited
'Miami University
'ABB Inc.
'Roorkee University, India
'IIT Council
'ABB Schweiz AG
'Embarq Corporation
'Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
'The National Foreign Trade Council
'Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University
'3dB Research Ltd.
'The ADT Corporation
 I discovered a great company with the most iconic brands in audio and a very good reputation in the auto industry
 I was quite ecstatic to take up the role. Harman was known to be a good company with great products and business prospects and turning the company’s fortune for good was a challenge that I was aspiring to take.
 I have always said you cannot be a sustainable profit leader if you don't have the sustainable cost advantage..
 I have a very clear bias for people who have lived in different countries
 What you call will power, I call massive courage. Passion.
 I'm here to make this company win long-term
 It is a matter of recognizing that people can’t be expected to put aside their connected lifestyle when they get in a car.
 I got my bearings as to what goes on in labs, I understood that to teach you have to learn
 I challenge my CTO and Researchers to see where we can focus to develop our own.
 Change is a very big deal and I worked hard with my board to determine what we really care about and what our philosophy of reaching out is beyond new cars.
 Whatever we develop in the western world, sometimes we over engineer it, sometimes we completely miss the real need of customers in other markets like South America or Asia.
 If a man is not almost paranoid about innovation then there is something wrong with him.
 When something is extremely well that means I am not thinking about other things as much as I should, I should be thinking about what could be disruptive to a well run product.
 Most people think that innovation always comes from the western world and this is far from the truth. In my experience, innovation can come from anywhere in this world and all you need to do is motivate and unleash the energy
 I believe that one can not be the profit leader without being the cost leader
 I believe in people, their strength of conviction and ideas. It’s been proven to me time and again if you can light the passion within talented individuals, their potential is unlimited
 Extending this technology to our consumer and professional audio systems will also help to save energy use and carbon emissions around the world

Hope viewers caught up the spark…