We have had the privilege of speaking with a diverse set of Thought Leaders for our series and this week is no different. This time we caught up with Kartik Johari from Nobel Hygiene, the undisputed leader in the adult diaper category and the only Indian manufacturer of both adult and baby diapers.
Kartik completed his MBA in Marketing from the University of Pittsburgh, Katz Graduate School of Business. After five years of experience in the Marketing, Sales and Product development in various companies, he joined Nobel Hygiene as the Vice President -Marketing & Commerce, in 2014 with the aim of learning scaling, while increasing awareness for adult diapers. He credits all his learnings about Indian business to the company; and learns more from each market visit. His first formative experiences in sales left him with a deep appreciation of the scale in India, and how “dhanda” is done on the ground.
Excerpts from our conversation with Kartik.
1. How does delegation of work in real-world business work when remote working. Would you consider technology as an enabler or a bottleneck?
A: Technology is definitely an enabler for effective delegation. Actual practices may not have changed much, however effective quantification of tasks is now a must. Minor points that are usually quickly resolved in an in-person meeting, now have to be spelled out. Technology helps keep track of all such variables, and also helps in assimilating/disseminating information quickly.
Another psychological change is an explicit feeling of trust. As things are not in eye-range now, you must have faith in your employees to effectively deliver on their KPIs. For an empowered autonomous team, there are no major changes in working. Unfortunately, not many teams can claim to function so effectively 🙂
2. In the post-Covid-19 times ahead, how would you gauge hygiene at home and at work?
A: By being obsessive about it, and by learning constantly. One needs to objectively identify ALL external contact points, and understand the basics of virology. Effective hygiene is impossible until you understand how even a glancing smidge can transfer upwards of 2L viruses. There are dozens of contact points that people don’t acknowledge, like their phone surfaces, car keys, tap handles, surfaces of bags, and even masks.
Additionally, there comes the realization that 100% constant disinfection of your external locus is impossible. Thus, even more, stringent control of personal hygiene is required, with mandatory hand washes, temperature checks, and social distancing measures being implemented at work. Similarly, all processes carry over at home, apart from social distancing.
3. What is your strategy to address automation/technology at work in the times to come?
A: Thankfully, we are fairly comfortable with technology at work. We deployed SAP last year, and everyone has proactively mastered WFH’s best practices. We share the responsibility of our sales staff, who are true #CoronaWarriors, and are spending their days in the market, fulfilling the demand for our essential products. Their work is also enabled on their SFA app and we are getting a positive response in terms of cleanliness of data & transparency.
4. If you were given a choice between high-accuracy or high-speed when planning work, what would you choose and why?
A: Every meat deserves it’s own bread :). If the task is payroll management, I would choose accuracy. If the task is bank liasoning, I will choose speed. There have been marketing campaigns we’ve turned around in 4 hours, and there have been logistical challenges where we have utilized 2 days to just cross-check the data. It all depends.
5. What are the Top-3 learnings for you through the lockdown period? How do you intend to inculcate the same at work?
A: Your mind is dependent on your body – I am sure the time to introspect has driven a majority of people straight towards improving their physical fitness. And the realisation is stark, that your brain can’t truly function without a healthy, rested body. We will do our best to support the fitness efforts of our employees in a post COVID world.
B: The Importance of a Safety Net – As a company in healthcare/disposable hygiene, we are in the 1% of the market that should pass through relatively unscathed. For large swathes of the country, this is going to be a devastating year. People and companies are going to be deracinated. Thus, everyone reading this should aspire to always have a 6-9 month, liquid (not alcohol ;)) safety buffer. This is the base amount required to weather many of life’s unforeseen impacts.
C: Humans can adapt – A majority of our urban population has rapidly adjusted to this new life. WFH, no alcohol, no restaurants, no maids, and home-helps. Never forget humanity’s strongest superpower, our drive to persevere.
Consequently, push yourself outside your bubbles. You will adapt. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
6. Do you think, self-driving cars, service robots, etc are closer to reality? How many years do you think before these become mainstay and would you like it to happen?
A: I think scaling such world-changing technologies will come faster than any of us can imagine. As I said, we will adapt. Also, the delta of change has only increased. I concur with the hypothesis, that we’ll be in a very different world in 20 years. Our kids will complain of us not sending them to Mars for the weekend with their other friends, who have been there twice already 🙂
Thank you so much, Kartik for sharing your views and I’m sure the readers loved reading them as well.
Incase you’d like to read other articles in our Thought Leadership Series click here.