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In India, deadlines do not work, says Panasonic country President

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on June 10, 2014 Published on June 10, 2014

DAIZO ITO



Daizo Ito, President, Panasonic India, and Regional Head for India, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, feels he’s fortunate to be part of the Japanese electronics corporation’s India operations.

He believes innovation holds key for success in a “very diverse market” such as India. In a freewheeling chat with Business Line, Ito talks about his experiences in and perceptions about India. Edited excerpts:

How did you come to work in India? Is this your first stint in India?

Yes, this is my first stint in India. I believe one should always be on a lookout for new opportunities. With new opportunities come new challenges and without challenges, work can get boring.

How comfortable has it been to work in India?

Firstly, I would like to state that I am very fortunate to be a part of the Indian operations. After all, it’s a place where I have learned the importance of localisation.

Further, the country scores high on the availability of research and analytical skill count, and its biggest strength is its highly diversified talent pool.

However, the only hurdle I see here is time management. In Japan, if a work is to be done by 10 am, it will be submitted by that time, but here in India, deadlines do not work. I think this certainly needs to be corrected.

How different is it to work in India, from other countries you have worked in?

India is a very diverse market and, therefore, I feel it’s hard to categorise the Indian buyer. People here are driven by the desire for success and the need to enjoy that success.

The differences are the breadth and depth of the Indian market and the fact that India has undergone much more social and economic change in the last generation than any other country has.

Therefore, Indian consumers and marketers are probably facing a far more intense and highly contrasted situation. They are not only looking for availability of products, they also want better experience, services and ambience.

The young generation is severely multi-tasking and for urban teenagers, or those in a small town, there may be marginal differences in their degree of preparedness.

Thus, for success in this country, it becomes imperative for brands to innovate and make products keeping in mind the needs of the local people.

What do you like about the work culture here?

I love the flexibility and can-do attitude displayed by Indian people. They are very educated and well-informed.

Also, I admire the fact that Indian associates perform extremely well in challenging situations and have a knack for finding inventive solutions to problems.

What’s your advice to other expats?

India is a country with striking contrasts and enormous ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity.

My advice to expats is to keep an open mind and invest time in getting to know their Indian business partners and co-workers better.

Professionally, what do you think are the country’s strengths and weaknesses?

It’s evident that the attention, which India is drawing on the world stage, is growing.

India is indeed considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has outstanding market potential.

However, there is considerable room for improvement in several of the basic drivers of competitiveness, in particular infrastructure.

Regulations and Government policies still affect the functioning of markets, in particular in the labour market.

What do you do in your after-office hours?

Reading newspapers is a part of my daily morning routine as it keeps me updated about the happenings in the industry.

Being an ardent reader, I am deeply influenced by the Bhagavad Gita which I like to read to unwind.

Travelling to new places has always been something that I enjoy the most.

I make sure that I travel as often as I can because that allows me not only to visit new places, but also to learn so much by interacting with people with varied cultural backgrounds.

I have a special interest in Golf. Also, I am a big cricket-enthusiast.

This is part of a series on expat CEOs working in India

Published on June 10, 2014
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