Mr. Rahul Gautam


Mr. Rahul Gautam is the man behind the success of Sheela Foam, India's largest foam manufacturing company. Founded in 1971 along with his mother, the company scaled great heights under their able leadership. With 40+ years of experience in home products and the PU foam industry, the company today has global manufacturing units at multiple locations in India and Australia. Currently, Mr. Gautam is the Director of Sheela Foam and the Chairman of Joyce Pty Ltd., Australia. He primarily handles the Group's finance, JVs, and acquisitions. Honoring his entrepreneurial zeal and excellence, IIT Kanpur conferred upon him the prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award 2017. "More than the technical knowledge, it was grit, perseverance, and determination that was hugely learned here over a period of time and just seeped into your bloodstream," said Mr. Gautam about his alma mater's role in his success. He has also set up the Rahul and Namita Gautam Faculty Chair at the institute.


Mr. Rahul Gautam received his B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1975 following which he obtained a master's degree in the same subject from Polytechnic Institute of New York, USA. By then, he was already a founding member of Sheela Foam, a foam manufacturing company that he founded in 1971 with his mother Ms. Sheela Gautam. "The biggest problem in those days was getting a license and for us, it became slightly easier as my father was in the army. Once you had it, a lot of things became easier," said. Mr. Gautam. As he returned to India, he fully immersed himself in the operations of the company.

As the liberalization wave set in, the company began rapid country-wide expansion and launched the 'Sleepwell' brand, for bedding and furniture, in 1993. In another 3 years, the company set up units outside Delhi NCR. In 1999, it went global and tied up with two international units - Serta, USA and Dunlopillo, UK. The company kept scaling heights under his leadership and emerged as a leader in foam manufacturing in the country. In 2005, the company acquired Polyurethane Foam & Polystyrene of M/s. Joyce Foam, Australia; and entered into joint ventures with M/s. Woodbridge group, Canada, in 2006; and A.H. Beard, Australia, in 2008. All this while, the company won several laurels - Dataquest Business Technology Award, 2015; CIO 100 Hall of Fame, 2014; CNBC Nasscom IT user award, 2008 and many others. The year 2016 turned out to be very significant as Sheela Foam got listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Mr. Gautam currently serves as the Director of Sheela Foam and the Chairman of Joyce Pty Ltd., Australia. He is the Chairman of the Polyurethane Association of India and has been instrumental in organizing the first Polyurethane Summit 'PUTECH-2005', October 2005, and then in March 2008. Besides the entrepreneurial endeavors, he is involved in philanthropic work in the areas of education (Him Jyoti School & Progress Alternatives) and sports (actively supporting talented tennis players). In 2015, the Sleepwell Foundation launched Sleepedia, an initiative to spread awareness about the importance of quality sleep as a means of good health and wellbeing. He also enjoys outdoor sports, books on management & philosophy, and Indian classical instrumental music.

Achievements and Honors

  • Recipient of Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2017 by IIT Kanpur.
  • BSE-CIOKLUB CIO of the Year, 2015.
  • Dataquest Business Technology Award, 2015.
  • CIO 100 Award, 2014, 2012, 2007.
  • CIO 100 Hall of Fame, 2014.
  • Information Week Silver Edge Award, 2014, 2012.
  • CIO Innovative Award, 2012.
  • SKOCH Digital Inclusion Award, 2012.
  • Indian Express Intelligent Enterprise Award, 2011.
  • Red Hat Asia Pacific Award, 2011.
  • Gold CIO Enterprise Connect Award, 2009.
  • Dataquest Gold CIO Award, 2009.