Sheela Foam Chairman & MD, Mr. Rahul Gautam, honoured as one of the ‘100 Great IITians’; a legacy of building the India story

Delhi, May 16 2024 : Rahul Gautam, a name that’s considered the don of the Indian mattress industry was included in the prestigious list of Top 100 IITians in a book edited by Commander VK Jaitly. The title is bestowed upon alumni who challenged the status quo of going overseas to build a career, instead becoming business icons in India. As the Chairmanof Sheela Foam, his journey from the corridors of IIT Kanpur to the boardrooms of India’s largest foam manufacturers is nothing short of inspiring. One has to also understand the journey to comprehend why he is one of the most obvious choices for not just a Great IITian but also a devoted countryman.

Born with a zeal for excellence, Rahul Gautam embarked on his academic journey at the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, where he pursued chemical engineering. Not only did he excel in academics, but he also captained the hockey team of the college—a testament to his multifaceted personality.

However, his journey wasn’t confined to the walls of a single institution. Coming from an army family,  he experienced a diverse upbringing, studying in 12 different schools across the country. This exposure instilled in him adaptability, resilience, and a deep understanding of diverse cultures—a foundation that would serve him well in his future endeavors.

After completing his undergraduate studies, young Rahul had the world at his feet. Armed with a desire to delve deeper into his field, he pursued post-graduation abroad. Yet, fate had other plans for him. Driven by a sense of duty and a vision to contribute to India’s industrial landscape, Rahul chose to return home, setting the stage for his remarkable journey with Sheela Foam Ltd (SFL).

Under his stewardship, Sheela Foam has soared to new heights, achieving a turnover of almost  INR 4000 crore, establishing over 5000 stores, and a commanding market capitalization of $2.2 billion. Beyond the borders of India, SFL has expanded its footprint into Europe, the Middle East, and Australia—an affirmation of Rahul’s strategic vision and global acumen. The recent acquisition of Kurlon in addition to the leading brand Sleepwell, further cements SFL’s industry leadership.

Mr. Gautam’s impact extends far beyond the realm of business. At the heart of Sheela Foam’s ethos lies a commitment to betterment of society through mindful means and programs. Through the Sleepwell Foundation, spearheaded by Ms Namita Gautam, the company spearheads initiatives aimed at empowering communities and fostering sustainable development. From providing training and skill-building opportunities to over 800 girls to implementing a range of developmental projects in Khurja, Uttar Pradesh.

In addition to his corporate achievements, Mr. Gautam is a trailblazer in the manufacturing sector—an exemplar of homegrown success. His leadership has been instrumental in shaping and nurturing India’s foam and sleep industry, propelling it onto the global stage. As the Chairman Emeritus of the Indian Polyurethane Association, he continues to champion the interests of the industry, advocating for innovation, sustainability, and growth.

Rahul Gautam’s journey from a young engineer & hockey captain at IIT to a visionary business leader that wrote an important chapter in India’s Manufacturing Sector, embodies the spirit of perseverance, passion, and purpose.