Modern Fleet interview – Raam Shankar Founder & CEO, Equitus Design Engineering and Innovations


Favourite holiday destination?

Every place I’ve been to has given me fond memories. It’s a difficult one, but I think it will have to be a tie between Rome, Athens, Paris, Rio and Bangalore. Ask me next year and there will be a few more in the mix!

What car do you drive?

I currently drive a BMW and hope to continue driving them for a long time. I became an advocate of BMW when I walked out with just a bruised knee after a 70mph crash on the M60. That car saved my life!

How and when did you get into this industry?

As an eight-year-old, I was bowled over when I was at the airport with my mum to pick up my dad and I saw a humungous Boeing 747 take to the skies.

And again, as a fresh teenager I had the same feeling when I saw a man called Senna drive this car in the rain. He started fifth and leads the race at the end of lap one! I was hooked, and I only wanted to be around fun things like planes and cars. The spark was lit!

Today, I am a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. I have been in renewables and nuclear in the past, leading teams and delivering things from the world’s biggest wind turbine gearbox to devices that prevent gamma radiation (think Hulk) from escaping. I am a firm believer that sustainability is a core component of innovation, to the point that I define innovation as “any human effort or endeavour that enables us to survive, grow, prosper and be sustainable in the process”. The transition to hydrogen and e-mobility is the next natural step. Greening our travel and transport ecosystem will be a huge win for humankind in our quest for being sustainable.

Tell us a bit more about Equitus?

Equitus provides world-class engineering solutions for e-mobility manufacturers requiring specialist expertise. We help in-house teams achieve compliance with challenging hydrogen and battery storage specifications. For firms concerned about time-to-market goals or lacking specialist e-mobility resources, our knowledge of validation processes helps to achieve right-first-time designs that reduce the risks and costs of non-compliance. Our approach aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, designing for sustainable manufacturing that minimises materials, costs, and potential waste. Equitus has facilitated fleets of hydrogen buses, worked with leading electric and range-extended vehicle manufacturers, and supported the European Space Agency’s satellite testing.

What are your industry predictions for the next 12 months?

When you look at the world today, people are making a conscious decision (as far as our pockets will permit us) to be sustainable in everything we do. This decision and its impact on purchasing behaviours will drive the emergence and acceptance of e-mobility at scale, which in turn will give us more and more sustainable transportation options. However, for any innovation to succeed it requires support infrastructure for the target audience to benefit from that innovation. Examples include mobile Internet for the iPhone (when it was launched), tracks for trains to run on and electricity to power electric bulbs and so forth. Today we are at the forefront of another potentially world-changing innovation: Hydrogen. Therefore, a huge factor that will act as a catalyst is the availability of support for hydrogen infrastructure. And this also something we’re working on at Equitus.

What is the strangest or most challenging job you have done?

Professionally, it would have to be working with a team spread across the world on a wind turbine gearbox project. It was super challenging with time zone, language and culture differences and coordinating everyone’s unique ways of working.

Personally, I’d say being a father is the most challenging, but rewarding job! The best part of my day is when my 3-year-old likes to give me (in her words) “a happy morning cuddle” when I wake her up. The challenging bit about parenting is balancing love and affection with discipline and routine and keeping up with the curiosity.

If you had your time again, would you have followed the same career path?

Without a shadow of a doubt, yes!

I would however like to respawn with all the wisdom I’ve accrued.

If you had been reincarnated, who or what do you think you were in a past life?

Given how curious I am and how excited I get about so many things, I have a feeling this is my first ever life. Ask me in my next life and I will probably tell you that in my past life I was an engineer, entrepreneur and thought leader who changed the world by making e-mobility accessible to everyone on a planet called Earth.

If you could invite four people to a dinner party – living or dead – who would they be – and why?

. Sachin Tendulkar, the God of cricket, do I need to say why?

. Bon Scott of AC/DC, my favourite rock band.

. Sir Alex Ferguson, for his philosophies on leadership and character building.

. Ayrton Senna, one of my inspirations, just for a chat and to say thank you.

What are your passions outside the workplace?

Spending time with my wife and daughter. Catching up with parents over video calls. Travelling. Playing golf. Supporting Manchester United and watching team India play any sport.

If they made a film about your life who would play you?

I can think of a few people, both in the Indian industry and the west. From India it would be Kay Kay Menon or Manoj Bajpayee. And from the west, either Jeremy Clarkson or Robert Downey Jr (because I am Iron Man – but you’ll have to ask my daughter about that!)

Describe yourself in five words?

Driven, resilient, funny, curious and optimistic.


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