He may flaunt his perfect macho handlebar moustache with much swagger but Gopalakrishnan Shetty, better known as Gopi Shetty, is a thorough gentleman and hardworking CEO.
CEO of the 60-year-old GK Shetty Builders Private Limited, a large and well-established real estate builder and construction firm in the city, Gopi Shetty believes in staying away from the limelight and getting the job done from behind the scenes. “We are conservative in our business and it is about sustained growth. My vision as the CEO is growth at a 45-degree angle. Gradual and stable growth ensures sustainability,” says Gopi.
Born and raised a Chennai-lad, Gopi modestly confesses, “I don’t believe that I have achieved greatness as yet. I have just taken over my father’s company. I think my biggest job is not to screw it up.” Carrying forward the GK Shetty legacy, Gopi Shetty is an engineer through and through and loves to see the work of his hands. “The satisfaction I get is from seeing what I have built. Years from now, I can still drive down the city roads and say, hey that’s what I built,” Gopi says. One can probably picture a young Gopi Shetty building skyscrapers with his Lego sets.
Gopi’s love for construction seems to flow organically. “It was never purposefully ingrained that I had to do what dad did. I remember going to construction sites with him during school holidays and spending time there,” he says. Eight years on the job, Gopi’s most cherished assignment is his first project, The Radisson Blu City Centre. “I love to build things, and the first assignment I took up was a five-star hotel which was close to home,” he says with a smile.
A car and motorsport enthusiast, the man does not believe in flaunting his privileged life and is as modest as they come. “My most prized possession as a kid was my dinky cars. I still have them, so I think it’s safe to say that like construction, cars are also in my blood,” Gopi says, adding that his father and brother also share this passion. But is the strapping CEO a speed demon? He laughs it off saying, “I will never do justice to the top speed of the car. I am all about ‘cruising’, though it’s hard to do on Chennai streets.” Gopi, however, tactfully avoids divulging the fastest he has driven.
Gopalakrishnan Shetty seems to be bringing a stable and disciplined life back into vogue. “Growing up you’d probably call me a boring person. I never found studying hard. I was a nerd,” he says. It is hard not to notice his penchant for the disciplined when it comes to motorsports as well. A Formula 1 buff, Gopi loves the precision and accuracy of the sport. “The beauty of F1 lies in the how things come down to a matter of seconds. NASCAR is just about brute speed. Formula 1 was about the champagne and glamour and how things could change in a jiffy. I remember watching some of the greatest rivalries on track between Michael Schumacher and Mikka Haikkonen or Pablo Montoya.”
A pronounced Rajinikanth fan, Gopi says he continues to love watching Tamil movies and he sure seems to enjoy them. “My wife makes fun of these movies that I watch. It maybe nonsensical, but when everything else in my life makes sense why not enjoy a little nonsense?” Amen to that. “I love going for Pongal releases. I still remember heading to the theatre in the afternoon after eating Pongal at home as a kid,” he adds.
Talking of his personal sense of style, he says, “I always thought I was good-looking, but I think I graduated and grew into my own style in my teenage years and I owe that transformation to my uncle. I am confident with whatever I wear because in the end only two opinions matter to me – those of my wife and my mother. I am however, a private person”
In his free time, this dashing CEO loves watching TV series on the mafia. His present favourite is Narcos. “I love The Godfather too. I think the closest I can come to being a Mafioso is owning a car that you have seen the mafia use. The cars that I own need to have a story behind them – a legend.”
Gopi and wife Rukmini are soon to be parents and the father-in-waiting is nothing short of excited. Maybe truer words were never spoken by Don Corleone from The Godfather: “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”