Invest in talent to reach new heights
Investment in talent can create a sustainable competitive advantage for organisations and take them to the next level. It also makes society better.
That's the belief of Marico Bangladesh, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) conglomerate that has reached four out of five families of the country carrying their motto: 'Make a Difference'.
"Bangladesh has immense potential thanks to a huge talent pool. If invested and nurtured well and given the right environment, the sky is the limit," said Ashish Goupal, managing director of Marico Bangladesh.
Goupal, who has been leading Marico's operations in the country since June 2018, said the company's 99 per cent employees were Bangladeshi national. Of them, 89 per cent are millennials, typically thought of as those born between 1984 and 1996.
"It is so exciting and energising to work with these millennials shoulder to shoulder every day. To look at their ambition, aspiration, and most importantly, the hard work and rigour they put into driving excellence, it's simply amazing."
Goupal termed Marico Bangladesh as a factory of top executives and CEOs and described the grooming process of future leaders.
"At Marico, we hire young individuals who are aspiring to be big in life. We empower them, enable them, and we give them the platform to succeed and to fail."
Goupal, who has been working at Marico since January 2006, has a particular interest in developing talent.
"I think it comes from my experience and benefit that I received from my mentors throughout my career. Because of them, I am what I am today."
His interest in developing and nurturing talent is his way of giving back to society.
Being a part of the Chief Executive Show of The Daily Star was also showing Marico's commitment to developing talents of the country and associating with anything happening in the innovation space.
"We believe, if CEOs, who are leading multinational organisations as well as local conglomerates, come together, share their experience, success stories and struggle, it will create a learning lesson for millions of youths," Goupal said.
The journey of Marico begins when its founder Harsh Mariwala, a young graduate, joined his family business Bombay Oil Industry in 1971. Marico was established on April 2, 1990.
Bangladesh was Marico's first venture outside India. Marico Bangladesh was incorporated in 1999, came into operation in 2000, and made a public offering in 2009 on the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges.
In the last 20 years, Marico Bangladesh has been groomed from a single brand company to a company with 37 brands.
"With a trusted brand and strong distribution network, we're really proud to reach four out of five households in Bangladesh," said Goupal.
Its flagship brand Parachute Advansed was awarded as the Most Consistent Brand of The Decade by the Bangladesh Brand Forum.
The company's revenue grew 11.72 per cent to Tk 980 crore in 2020.
Marico truly believes that an organisation's existence is not only for making profits and boosting the top line. It has to have a purpose beyond that, according to the managing director.
"By making a difference in society, for stakeholders, shareholders, employees and larger ecosystem, we truly believe it is a private organisation's responsibility to partner with governments to drive the Sustainable Development Goals."
Marico spends 1 per cent of its net profits on social activities.
The company's flagship programme Shwapno, jointly being implemented with the government and the UNDP, is helping underprivileged and poor women in 22 districts to upgrade their living standard.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the company took three-pronged measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its employees and stakeholders while continuing business operations to ensure the supply of essential goods.
Marico contributed Tk 50 lakh to the Prime Minister's welfare fund, rolled out medical safety hygiene products with a no-profit, no-loss pricing policy, and supported 5,000 families of Gazipur with necessities.
"I think it's just a drop in the ocean. But the real feeling of doing these was such a fulfilling act I can't describe in words," Goupal said.
He also spoke about the daily challenges of the top brass of a conglomerate.
"The daily challenge of manning a large organisation is like making an elephant dance."
All must understand that they operate in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, he said.
"It is part of life. Sometimes, things will be favourable to you, and sometimes, things will be against you. But in all those favourable and adverse situations, what is important is that you keep on identifying opportunities and running the show by taking your people along. That is only possible when you walk with your strength fully, keep yourself nimble-footed and remain agile."
"That is a daily struggle. But I am sure with practice, the struggle becomes a habit."
Goupal completed his bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from Amravati University in 2001 and master's in management studies from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in 2004.
He started his career with Samsung India Electronics as manager for sales in July 2004 and switched to Marico as the area sales manager in January 2006.
He held key roles in brand management, marketing and sales. He was appointed as the managing director of Marico Bangladesh in June 2018.
"It's not like one day you decide to be a CEO and become one. It is a journey; you keep walking, and one day you realise that you are reaching the destination," he said.
"I always took assignments that pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to work with people, and had a higher chance of failure."
The CEO must inspire his colleagues to give their best and learn to identify opportunities under any circumstance.
"Whatever you do, do with a lot of energy and passion. And you must enjoy it."
Marico, as an impact-driven brand, believes in its existence beyond profit and loss, Goupal said.
"Whichever country we're operating in, besides offering great products to consumers and sustainable return to stakeholders, we have our biggest responsibility in driving a change and helping society to be better."
Marico has invested Tk 270 crore at the Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar to become a flagship manufacturing company in the country.
"Our founder believed that an organisation must have a purpose, and we're living that purpose by making a difference in the society and for stakeholders and partners," Goupal said.