Back in 1983-84, Shinzo Nakanishi was a member of the initial Suzuki team that set up the automobile joint venture, Maruti Udyog Limited, with the Indian government. That venture, now known as Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), currently sells half the cars sold in the country.

Nakanishi played a critical role in Maruti's divestment and has been the company's non-executive chairman since 2002. After taking over the reins of the country's largest car-maker (sale-wise) in 2007, he has maintained MSIL's domination in the overcrowded Indian market. Nakanishi put into action Suzuki Motor Corporation's (the firm's Japanese parent) promise of making India a global small car hub with mega investments in manufacturing, R&D and design. He boosted the company's compact car lineup with the introduction of MSIL's world strategic models - the A-star, Ritz, Swift, new WagonR, new Zen Estillo and the new Alto - that are equipped with their next generation K-series engines.

The 61-year-old honcho has also initiated work on Maruti's hybrid vehicles that are expected to be demonstrated at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games this year, including the R III, and, of course, the much-awaited Kizashi.

With Nakanishi at the helm, MSIL has maintained its identity and profitability as a small car maker while continuing to expand its portfolio with a strong presence in other segments as well.