How would you define effective business leadership?
Leadership to me is the ability to build trust amongst your team. It encompasses coaching of people, providing them the right feedback, leveraging their strength, motivating them to perform better and inspiring them to achieve business objectives and goals.
What according to you is the biggest challenge faced while marketing commodities like cement?
We are in the business of manufacturing cement which is a low involvement product and a one-time purchase for individual house builders. The search for brands begins only when one decides to build a house. With new brands rapidly entering the market, an individual house builder increasingly bases his decision on brand familiarity. This makes branding all the more important. The challenge is to brand a product which even today has not totally graduated from being a commodity. The task is also to generate willingness in consumers to pay a premium. While most of the other players positioned their brands around strength, we adopted the “Expert’s Choice” platform thus imparting an engineering connect.
How central are people or employees to a brand?
People or employees matter the most to any organisation, especially the service industry and industries where product differentiation is not distinct. Here people become the differentiator. Their passion and commitment elevates the brand to a higher level. Each employee is a face of the brand. A good employee will be one of the best brand ambassadors a company can have.
What is the first thing that strikes a consumer’s mind when he or she thinks of Ultratech? How do you make this clear through your brand communication?
Reliability & Trust. This is what strikes a consumer’s mind. We have positioned our brand as “The Expert’s choice,” thus instilling confidence in their minds. We depict mega structures as well as individual houses made from UltraTech cement in our communication, thus showcasing our product’s diverse application.
What’s the annual turnover of the brand and where do you see things five years down the line?
The annual turnover is about $3.3 billion. India is increasingly growing urban, with development taking place in smaller towns. This will have to be supported by infrastructure creation. UltraTech will continue to play a key role in facilitating India’s progress and development, by offering innovative products and solutions.
Leading and managing brand operations are extremely taxing roles. How do you work on your concentration levels? And what do you do to relax?
Exercise and meditation help me concentrate on my tasks. I don’t relax. That is probably my nature and I won’t advise others to follow me.
Indians have not managed to create an iconic brand like Google or Apple from the scratch. Where do you think we lose out?
Indian brands do not innovate constantly to meet consumer needs or aspirations. They lack sustained efforts towards brand building. Also, to some extent, Brand India (“made in India”), is pulling down the image of brands. This is because certain Indian brands do not live up to the brand promise. Hence our brands are unable to build a premium image. Lastly, we should have complete faith in our brands and its ownership should create a sense of pride.
What are the future plans for your brand? Any exciting launches that we should look forward to?
The plan is to penetrate deep into rural pockets and to gradually turn it into a global iconic brand. We want to be seen as a thought leader by experts. As regards to launches, we will expand our range of value-added products.