amit-gope-CPIAs the marketing head of a brand, what does it take become a leader?
From a managerial point of view, leadership in a change management situation comes from leading by example. When you are expected to deliver a result beyond the call of KRA and defined goals, then setting examples, driving cultural change and being the embodiment of that change becomes imperative.
From the brand perspective, leadership is about setting completely new benchmarks – a set of parameters that no one really thought was possible, processes that define transparency and code of conduct for the entire category. When a consumer thinks of a product, the brand’s ‘top-of-mind’ position is strong. The brand value is therefore defined not just by the business results but the affinity and pride it enjoys in the minds of all attached to it – suppliers, employees, channel partners, prospective employees, etc. Dreaming and setting these standards define the brand leadership quotient.

What is the toughest challenge you faced?
This brand has not had sustained communication for the last few years. While it is deemed leader in the panel business, Century Laminates and Century Veneers are not the most known brands in their categories. The brand architecture wasn’t defined. Internally, the brand’s journey wasn’t defined. But all that is a thing of the past now. The journey to make CenturyPly one of the top 15 to 20 brands in the country has begun. Processes, people, delivery systems all have been set in place. Continuous improvement will be the only constant in this journey. We look forward to some benchmark activities on the brand’s end. On a broader scale, this industry is not driven by the ITES. I wish it were. The distribution management system and the supply chain management systems are not completely scientific and automated. Wish it were.
It is a tough journey to change that mindset and bring in more transparency and efficiency into these systems. Customer relationship management is highly underdeveloped.
Training development is another area for employees that lacks focus and could well be a huge focus area for improving internal brand affinity and productivity in this segment.

How important are employees for CenturyPly?
As important as a solvent or solute is to a solution!

What values does CenturyPly represent and are you communicating them to your customers?
The answer to the first bit is “Don’t Know”. If I did, either I would be lying or would be God. I feel no amount of research can quite answer that, for either mass or target groups. A new campaign is due for launch by late May – “we create surfaces that are witness to everyday moments of joy and happiness”. CenturyPly – Khusiyon Ka Rangmanch. While most brands use the USP-based communication model, we want our customers to look at this category from a different perspective.

Tell us something about the annual turnover and market share of the brand?
CenturyPly is a $167 million plus brand and enjoys about 32 per cent of the market share in the organised sector. Century Laminates is approximately a $25 million brand and Century Veneers is a $17 million brand.

Leading and managing brand operations are extremely taxing roles. How do you de-stress yourself?
While the role is taxing, it is also challenging and, hence, almost exhilarating. The sheer fact that my efforts can create benchmarks for the whole industry and leave behind a huge legacy for the posterity is adrenalin pumping. But yes, the operations, especially in a first generation change management scenario, create its pressures and frustrations. Travelling and holidays do help. But what really helps me the most is some good time spent listening to music and reading.

Indians have no dearth of talent and yet we don’t have many Indian brands in the international market which are as prominent as a Google or an Apple? Why do you think is that?
Vision – the power to take the risk to achieve more than the normal. I guess this is what Indian entrepreneurs lack.