One of India’s Most Trusted CEO’s, Anshuman Singhania of JK Tyres and Industries is an innovative, change oriented and vision oriented CEO whos scaling new heights with a legendary Indian brand.
In conversation with Anshuman Singhania, CEO, JK Tyre and Industries
What makes a strong leader? What are your key leadership strengths are make the strongest attributes of success?
The definition of a strong leader can change according to the situation. However, there are certain traits I have identified as common between leaders I admire. Practicing these traits has notably helped in better performance as a leader:
- Being empathetic: Stepping into the shoes of your employees and the customers can be a humbling as well as an enriching experience, broadening your horizons and your capability to think beyond conventions
- Being open to change: business landscapes are changing far more rapidly today than it did twenty years ago. We need to improvise – adapt – overcome to move faster than others
- Thinking long-term: from developing products of the future to instilling a culture that will foster innovation and business transformation, thinking long-term helps you set up the foundation for future successes well in time
An accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career? What challenges did you face to reach to the success?
The turnaround for JK Tyre in 2020 – a year that was unprecedented in expectations – was one of the most remarkable times; I would definitely recall this for the rest of my life.
The auto sector was facing already slowing down in growth and the initial lockdown period disrupted production and demand. However, we recognized opportunities in replacement market – often called the cash-cow in the tyre industry – and were able to witness one of the most dramatic turnaround in sales in June, bolstering our hope and motivation for the coming months. The perils of lockdown that caused instability for a few weeks, challenged us to embrace digitisation in as many facets of day-to-day businesses. Not only were we able to transform the way we work, but we were also able to bring in optimization in our ways – helping us hit our best ever sales performance multiple times in 2020.
With improved processes, we were also able to reduce our average claim processes from over two days to less than fifteen minutes – an industry benchmark now. Digitisation in back-end processes of sales, manufacturing, and supply chain, has only improved the efficiency.
What is a role of leader in these challenging times? List 5 in order of priority.
- Leading from the front, leading by example
- Engaging efficiently to impact positively
- Taking ownership and delivering reliably
- Adapting to challenges boldly
- Being prepared for the future
What is your vision and how do you share that with your shareholders, employees and others?
I envision JK tyre to be renowned as India’s answer to innovative mobility. We are on the crux of creating technologically advanced products that are not only about superior product performance but also about inculcating sustainable, environment-friendly practices during manufacturing. We have scaled many peaks in our efforts to be among the most socially conscious corporate citizens of the country. And now, we look to scale up in efforts to match, as well as drive up, product demand. In the last two years, our growth rate vs industry’s growth rate has been promising to say the least.
We have monthly recap meetings over a virtual town hall, where the directors share performance updates – this is done to share the progress we make and highlight how each employee is building the story of JK Tyre’s success in their own way. Udaan is another initiative set up to foster innovation within the company, where cross-functional teams come together and pitch their business improvement ideas to a panel and the best ideas are pushed for realization.
I have also initiated business training programmes for our retail channel partners, helping them capture the right business opportunities for gains that go beyond the traditional definitions of sales and revenue.
How do you drive active business renovations and how does that impact your subordinates?
One of the first things needed to drive business renovations is to maintain transparency and keep honesty so that there is trust and camaraderie between all. With transparency in intentions comes trust, and with trust comes conviction that the changes are being implemented for the better. Surely, any business renovation comes with short-term and long-term impact, both of which should be made clear to the decision makers within the teams. It is also important to enable and empower the people we work with so that they can make the most of the business renovations, further adding value to the process.
The pandemic introduced us to challenges that we had never considered; not only did we onboard new partners who could help us navigate through those challenges smoothly but also introduced technological measures that have now become central to employee communication. We have since seen higher productivity among the team members with a strong willingness to take on new skills.
How do you integrate corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility as a part of your business strategies?
We at JK Tyre strongly believe that the growth called be called growth if achieved holistically. While corporate social responsibility is a big part of our company’s business strategy, I have found it just as important to instill the value of giving back within the corporate culture. Building empathy and sensitization within the organization builds the inclination to do good, more organically. Our plants actively work within the locations they are situated at, promoting initiatives to contribute positively to the local communities. We routinely conduct donation drives within the offices that often sees encouraging participation.
When employees feel happy about their work and their contribution to the society, it reflects in their performance as well as the products they create.
What has been your driving force or philosophy in life?
I firmly believe that there is no recipe for success; it is the result of hard work, preparation, and learning from failures. Keeping an open mind, being persistent in chasing your goals can take you on journeys further than you would have had imagined. It is also important to be honest to yourself, acknowledge your failures and learn from them.
What are the other philanthropic works you are involved in?
Women empowerment is a cause very close to my heart. I have initiated upskilling initiatives near our Kankroli Plant, and have also set up self-help groups to assist with micro-financing entrepreneurship dreams. I feel proud to witness the stupendous successes of the self-help groups so far; few trainees have even set up their own enterprises, boosting employment opportunities within the locality.
How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
If I say that I was successful today, it means that I was able to help at least one more person around me realise their potential and do better than they did yesterday.
While I have seen the results business transformations have brought into JK Tyre, I still believe there is a lot more for me to do to help people be their best and deliver the best. Our JK Tyre family is only growing stronger by the day, and I hope to keep it evolving from strength to strength.
In your opinion, what is the most significant aspect of leadership?
Honesty – to yourself, to your followers, to your fellow human beings. You can only inspire as much trust from those around you, as you can inspire trust within yourself, and that cannot happen without honesty.
Your perception of an empowered society. How far your industry has/can contribute for the same?
An empowered society grows together from strength to strength – no person left behind.
The tyre industry, since time immemorial, has been viewed as a traditional, old-school industry, as is noted with most manufacturing industries. In the recent times, with the change in business landscape and with the world being more intricately connected through technology, we are witnessing a notable shift in perception of the industry.
Not only are we seeing more youth participation in the industry workforce, but also increased engagement from women, who were previously not as involved in automotive/tyres market. It becomes our prerogative to further these interests, educate everyone, and bridge the gap on inequalities. We should set up more initiatives in hiring and brand engagement programmes that can shift perception.
Esprit de corps: How do bring fairness and equality to all?
Change starts at home, and starts small. We should be grounded in our ideas to turn them into reality – understand how an inequality arose before setting up measures to eradicate the gaps. A solution can only be attained if the problem is identified properly, baby steps to be taken one at a time to bring small changes. After all, every drop in the ocean counts.