Making her mark in Godrej group’s transformation

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

Nisaba Godrej

Around 2005-06 when the Godrej group’s agri arm, Agrovet, was in the doldrums, Adi Godrej’s younger daughter, Nisaba, stepped in to steer the business. Her strategy was a combination of hiring the right talent and divesting non-core businesses.

Nisa, as she is often addressed, brought in Vivek Gambhir from Bain & Co as the Chief Strategy Officer. She elevated Balram Yadav, who was then overseeing the chicken business, as the Managing Director. The company also went on a divestment spree. Agrovet sold 70 per cent stake in its rural supermart Aadhar to the Future group and also divested 51 per cent in the chicken business to US-based Tyson Foods. Godrej Nature’s Basket was transferred to Godrej Industries and Agrovet turned operationally profitable in FY09. It had a profit of ₹144 crore in FY14.

For those who know Nisa, her elevation as the Chairman of Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL), the group’s flagship firm, is no surprise. While she will take over as the executive chairperson of the company on May 10, she has been running the show successfully behind the scenes for some years now.

In the last decade, she has transformed the group from being seen as an old economy company to a contemporary corporate giant with a pulse on consumer needs. She has been overseeing the corporate strategy, besides human capital functions for Godrej Industries and Associate Companies (GILAC). This has led to a change in the group’s work culture, where now merit is given priority over loyalty.

Her work at GCPL has been in three major areas – getting the right talent into the company, upgrading and expanding the product portfolio and acquiring the right companies. But all this has been a result of many years of hard work. Nisa worked in the Godrej group from 2000 to 2004 and then went on to study management at the Harvard Business School. In 2006, she returned to work as a trainee with Sara Lee, then a group company.

At GCPL, she created a five-year roadmap, outlining category choices and setting up an M&A cell that led to eight acquisitions between 2009 and 2011. The acquisitions included those in the home insecticides, air care and hair colour segments, giving the company a strong presence in the UK, Latin America, Indonesia, and Africa.

GCPL’s financials

A lot of those efforts are visible in the company’s financials. GCPL’s revenues have increased over 2.5 times in the last six years – zooming from ₹3,676 crore in FY11 to ₹9,584 crore in FY 17. Net profit during the period has jumped over three times to ₹1,304 crore. While the numbers look exciting, Nisaba still has to do a lot more work to achieve the group’s ambitious target of 10X10 — growing revenues ten times by 2021.

While the target is collectively for the four group companies, GCPL will have to be the torchbearer being the flagship company. If Nisaba succeeds in meeting the target, it will clearly be her biggest success story.

Published on May 09, 2017

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