Anshu Budhraja, CEO, Amway India on Leadership, Work-life Balance, De-stressing, Passion and the core essence of Business Success
In Conversation with Anshu Budhraja, CEO, AMWAY INDIA. India’s Inspirational Leader 2018.
What innovations are you getting in your industry for a better Indian economy?
The Indian Direct Selling Industry has come a long way since its inception in terms of its size, products & services. Our growth strategy is focused on delivering value to our consumers through our distributor channel. We firmly believe consistent innovation will result in high quality products which address customer needs. Visibility and easy access are important components of our growth strategy.
At Amway, we have taken many strategic interventions to grow our business by way of embracing newer technologies, introducing innovative products to enhance consumer experience:
- Guided Entrepreneurship: Amway has led a silent revolution by encouraging more than 5,50,000 individuals to take-up entrepreneurship as a way of living. With zero capital investment and no burden of manufacturing, a direct seller can build his own business with ease. Driving key government priority of “Skill India” while emphasizing on the need for the direct sellers to continually foster a learning mindset, take value based decisions and embrace future with confidence Amway direct seller is exposed to free trainings by Amway. Furthermore, Amway has partnered with Ministry of Skill development and Entrepreneurship under their prestigious project RASCI and have already trained & certified more than 6000 entrepreneurs and conducted 18000 training in a year. Amway has also started working with U-35, targeting students in universities by training them with life skills which will help them foster a learning mindset, take value based decisions and embrace future with confidence.
- Consumer protection: In our endeavor to safeguard the interests of Amway’s consumers. Our products are backed by a money back guarantee for 100% satisfaction of use* which allows our direct sellers to ‘try’ the business and their customers also to ‘try’ the product. Amway India does not charge any entry fee or deposit. The direct sellers are free to exit anytime.
- Organic Farming Practices: We firmly support Govt of India’s endeavor to promote organic farming with the support of Indian farmers and currently we have 9 NutriCert suppliers in India from whom we source our ingredients across 6 states in India. Our vertical integration process of ‘Seed to Supplementation’ mirrors with Hon’ble Prime Ministers’ initiative of ‘Beej Se Bazaar Tak’
- Traceability: With focus on superior consumer experience and safety, Amway India has always ensured to offer best in class products which are backed by extensive research and supported by technology. For instance, in the recently launched Nutrilite Traditional Herbs range in order to maintain transparency, Amway is providing a QR code on the product packaging that explains the ‘Seed to Supplement’ journey of the manufacturing process alongside highlighting the three key pillars of Nutrilite Traditional Herbs which is Purity, Safety and Potency. In addition, the range has DNA fingerprinted herbs to ensure better quality of ingredients free from any kind of contamination /adulteration.
- Digitization: Amway aggressively rides on the digital wave in India as it offers digital tools to facilitate and enhance reach of its direct sellers in the market. Today Amway transfers close to 5 lakh payments digitally into the bank accounts of the direct sellers. It is the matter of pride for Amway India as its digital transactions contribute to 1.4% of all the digital transactions that take place in the country as per the RBI data
- Socio-economic Impact to the society: Modern-day India is a growing hub of opportunities, an open stage for all genders to take control of and a more open-minded community that welcomes change. The current status of women shows that India Inc has come a long way in terms of gender equality, but a lot still remains to be done. There cannot be a bigger example than Amway on how diversity and balance positively impacts business. We are one of the few very business models which encourage women to be an integral part of our business. A significant percentage i.e. over 60% of our Amway direct sellers are women, they form the core pillar in driving the success of the Amway business. Our low-cost, low-risk opportunity coupled with right environment and incentive has empowered many women and helped them fulfill their short and long-term goals. Consumer centricity and innovation will further spur growth to this industry and with this view in mind, Amway, the country’s largest direct selling FMCG company have introduced some key strategic interventions and it completed its 20th year of operations in India.
Define your Leadership style:
I believe in a transformational and participative leadership with strong focus on 3 Ps- People, Process and Purpose. As a true servant leader and people’s person, I have managed to achieve remarkable results through teamwork, involving team members in decision making, helping them grow and creating a caring organization which reflects in my belief. I believe in constantly nurturing relationships even while challenging my team. I have developed a highly motivated workforce who are inspired to channelize their discretionary energy, as well as their commitment and creativity, towards achieving the organisational goal. In my current role, as the Chief Executive Officer of Amway India, having led diversified teams in both Indian and US based multi-national organizations, I am driving Business Strategy, Supply Chain, Corporate Finance, Manufacturing, Business Excellence for the company. Apart from this, I am also focused on driving Go-To- Market strategy, Geography and Cluster management, Development of infrastructure including stores / e-commerce, sales operations and promotions, and Cross Functional Talent Building.
Break through Ideas from you:
I have always focused on building relationships with our distributors, customers, and employees along with the society that we operate in.
Since the time I took charge as the CEO of the company in the year 2015 and I have spearheaded the organization growth in the country by challenging conventions and leading Amway India through transformations. Besides leading the organization through tough regulatory challenges due to lack of clear laws on direct selling industry, I decided to launch a slew of new initiatives to spur growth in India. Some of these are mentioned below:
- Driving growth through relevant innovations
- Building emotional connect with consumers
- Enhance distributor productivity
- Amway rode the digital wave to engage distributors as well as consumers
After addressing internal & external irregularities and bringing the focus back to the business, Amway India has successfully landed itself amongst the top 10 fastest growing markets for Amway Global in the world.
I treated the regulatory environment not as an obstacle but as a challenge and encouraged employees also to find ways to overcome it rather than get overwhelmed by it. I spearheaded the reputation building strategy of Amway India by using my understanding and insights of the Indian regulatory environment not only for the company but also for the Direct Selling (DS) industry in India.
The company made a significant investment of Rs 600 cr in the India market. I left no stone unturned to bring the state-of-the-art, environment friendly, award winning, sustainable manufacturing facility to India. It is Amway’s third plant outside US.
I also recognize that customer experiences, digital innovations and youth are trending and are the current growth drivers behind organizations and industries. In my quest for innovation, result orientation and encouragement for my team to push boundaries and test new ideas has resulted in several new initiatives to take the business to the next level.
Some significant initiatives include:
- Customer first approach: In the past, many consumers became distributors simply because they wanted to use Amway products, not to become business owners. Now Amway has launched an initiative where one can register as a preferred consumer and buy products directly from the website. The preferred customer has the option to choose to become a distributor or can be assigned a distributor, so that he/she is catered to appropriately in the future. The customer-friendly Amway website offers one of the fastest delivery experiences – it only takes 1 minute to register, 1 hour to process the order and just 1 day of delivery time across 30 cities in the country– which is a testimony to our ‘customer centric approach’.
- Improve customer accessibility: Customer friendly Express Pick-and-Pay (XPPs) Stores are being opened at premium locations in high footfall locations across India. The store’s format is similar to a Mini Shopping Centre which gives an opportunity to customers and distributors to touch/feel and purchase the products. So far, the company has opened 53 stores and is targeting 25 more by the end of 2018.
- Enhancing distributor productivity: Technology is being leveraged to reach out to and improve the connect with distributors. A mobile app called the Digital Tool Box has been developed for distributors. The app has product details, videos and tools like product recommendations which will help distributors explain the features and benefits of the product better to end consumers.
- Contributing to the digital wave: Amway products are available online only through company website which currently contributes almost 35 per cent of Amway India’s revenues. Amway is completely aligned with the Government’s vision of Digital India. Today Amway transfers close to 5 lakh payments digitally in a month into the bank accounts of the direct sellers. By 2030 Amway has a vision to convert it to 30 lakh a month.
- Building emotional connect with consumers: I recognized that Amway India needed a strong and credible face to help people understand the role of supplements in addition to a balanced diet and exercise. Farhan Akhtar, seen as leading a healthy lifestyle, was an obvious choice. Besides being talented and versatile, Farhan is physically fit and has a youth appeal that resonates well with Nutrilite’s world class image, offering the best of nature and science for optimal health. Consumer response to the association of Farhan with Nutrilite has been very positive.
- People practices: People practices have been transformed by initiatives including integrated leadership development program, emphasis on learning in the organisation, fostering a coaching culture with constant training and development program, encourage experimental approach at work with fail fast, learn faster and correct fast principle, promote culture of recognition and help achieve work life balance. A novel approach to motivate the workforce has resulted in Amway India being certified amongst “Great Places to Work” recently.
- Skill development: Driving key government priority of “Skill India”, I worked closely with the direct sellers aligning the business goals to their personal goals. Keeping in mind the long-term vision for the company, I tactically invested in skill development and nurturing entrepreneurship by offering them free training. Over a period of 12 months close to 18000 training session have been conducted for the direct sellers. I further demonstrated my commitment to foster quality entrepreneurship by partnering with IIM-C to train 100 of its top direct sellers.
During my tenure the company has strengthened its product portfolio with 140 top notch world class quality products. In last couple of years, Amway is seen aggressively driving innovation by entering into newer categories, some of the notable ones being foray into consumer durables with Amway Queen (cookware); launch of a Weight Management Program called ‘W.O.W.’ (Will over Weight), which has been welcomed by the consumers with an overwhelming response; and a promising range of products focused on the young adult, such as the Energy Drink (XS) and Whey Protein (XS) in the Sports Nutrition segment. The most recent launch was the ‘Nutrilite Traditional Herbs’, a range indigenously developed for the Indian market.
Suggestions for a better India:
For a Better India, it is crucial to strengthen our future including more job opportunities, innovation focus, and efficient resource management. In order to ensure orderly growth of Direct Selling and to create more start-ups, self-employment opportunities in India, an effective and uniform regulatory regime across all states is required. The release of the Direct Selling Guidelines 2016 by the Ministry of Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs was a first significant milestone which will give a boost to entrepreneurship in India. As envisioned by the Prime Minister of India, this will also lead to “ease of doing business” for the start-up, women entrepreneurs and direct selling industry in India.
The only way this envisioned thought can turn into reality is through the process of effective notarization and proper implementation of these Uniform Guidelines by all the States and Union Territories in India. employment generation initiatives.
Furthermore, recently the Union Cabinet has also approved the New Consumer Protection Bill 2017 to be placed in Parliament and hopefully, it would be approved in the Winter Session itself. The rules for consumer protection have been streamlined to solve consumer problems keeping cost and time efficiency in mind. The new law also aims to encourage ethical business. Direct Selling, on its part, has been established globally as one of the most consumer-friendly formats to improve access to quality goods and services. However, at ASSOCHAM I also propose that all direct selling companies, big or small, should have an effective code administrator/ombudsman to ensure an efficient complaint redressal mechanism for prompt handling of consumer complaints to become an integral part of the industry, not just on paper but also in its true spirit. This will help in the development of Direct Selling Industry.
The Direct Selling Industry must come forward for better compliance and self-regulation to unlock the potential of the industry, that is estimated to grow at the double-digit growth rate in coming years.
To ensure the achievement of these Industry estimates, the state governments need to adopt and notarize the Direct Selling Guidelines 2016 at the earliest to create confidence among the investors. All states need to be in sync with the Guidelines as issued by the Ministry of Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs. We must refrain from different guidelines in each state, this will be contradictory to the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ not only for direct selling entities but for the industry at large and reduce the employment generation potential of the sector.