The manufacturing sector despite its critical importance to economic transformation and job creation tends to be overshadowed by more fashionable sectors these days, CK Ranganathan, CMD, CavinKare. “I urge managers of both manufacturing and services sectors to keep working towards setting higher benchmarks for their peers and young entrepreneurs,” he said at the 20th MMA Award for Managerial Excellence and the 66th Annual General Meeting on Friday.

There have been continuous challenges and disruptions, including Covid, the Ukraine war and the latest one is inflation around the world. “We are in a situation of stagflation and this is worrying. All the industrialists are saying they are doing well. But, there is a high inflation rate,” he said. The prices of vegetable oil and crude oil are coming down and should make the economy come back fast. India as of now is really looking well, he said.

‘Leadership and setting the strategy’

Sujatha Narayan, Senior Vice President and Regional Leader, Wabtec Corporation in India, said that the CEO’s job is to set the strategy; to ensure execution and to take care of the people. Strategy is one space where there is no room for delegation, and is the singular responsibility of the CEO or business leader. Your managers who run day-to-day activities of the business do not have the time. They are delivering the numbers; delivering customer satisfaction to generate the finance.

“What I practised and really worked out well was that I kept my mouth shut for at least two months. I spent it all on learning from everybody I could, especially to people who reported to me and the people who reported to them. Humility to me is one of the most basic competencies that a strong leader has,” she said. Spend tons of time with your customers and salespeople - both of them talk a lot and will have a lot of learnings from them.

It is extremely important to communicate the company’s strategy to all the employees. This increases employees’ motivation and drives performance. An example of this is a $1 billion vision created for Wabtec in India, which is now $500 million, in 3-5 years. Once we built the strategy, in every town hall that I conduct and every meeting that I go to, I talk about the $1 billion plan. When you talk to Wabtec employees, they will talk about the $1 billion plan,” she added.

On execution, she said, the leader’s job is execution excellence. If you are in the midst of this execution, then something is wrong in the organisation because as the leader, you don ‘t want to be in day-to-day execution. It is all about building a strong team, she said.

On taking care of people, she said, periodic review process, career development discussion and strong rewards and recognition; strong employee activity are basics for most companies. However, it's not really done by the people who should do it - not the top leadership but every people manager in that company. One has to spend an extraordinary amount of time in systematising this in the organisation so that this process is well in place, she said.