The first-ever, virtual annual Chairman’s Townhall, held in April 2021, provided a platform for RPGians to interact with Chairman Harsh Goenka. Over 2,000 employees joined in from across the country and overseas, via Zoom. The Chairman used this opportunity to share insights on the economy, evaluate the Group’s performance and provide guidance on the way forward. He also covered landmark milestones achieved by the Group in FY21, such as the implementation of a forward-looking, permanent Work-From-Anywhere policy, the Most Innovative Company award, Covid outreach efforts undertaken by the Group, and honouring campus commitments as well as paying full salaries to employees in a difficult year.
Taking the audience through a host of initiatives undertaken in response to the pandemic, under the aegis of the RPG Foundation, the Chairman expressed his appreciation to all RPGians for contributing one day’s salary amounting to Rs 1.2 crore. This was used gainfully for relief measures such as providing food and other ration kits to over 5,000 families.
He expressed gratitude to the RPG Foundation which, together with the BMC and the Godrej Group, launched Milkar – an initiative to ensure that dry rations reached the underprivileged communities in Mumbai. He also acknowledged Seniority’s SafeSeniors, a tool designed with the help of RPG Life Sciences’ network of doctors and Zensar’s technological mettle, which helps with early identification of COVID risk amongst senior citizens. The Chairman recognised CEAT’s sanitisation drive in collaboration with AITWA, which covered over 10,000 trucks and provided free hot meals to truckers and their helpers, as well as the work done by KEC, CEAT and Zensar to provide free hot meals to migrant workers and labourers affected by the pandemic and lockdowns.
Despite difficult business conditions that impacted the last quarter of FY20, the Chairman informed the audience that as a group, RPG was still able to register growth. While all Group companies initially focused on ensuring liquidity to meet obligations and identifying alternate supply chains, there was a stringent focus on managing working capital. This has led to improvement in all companies, with Zensar and CEAT achieving their lowest Days Outstanding levels in the last five years. In an especially difficult year, the Group continued to deliver strong shareholder returns in each of its companies.
As he shared CEAT’s vision to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by the year 2030, the Chairman informed the audience that the company was well on its way to realising this goal. Other group companies such as KEC and Zensar, too, have been working towards formulating their long-term ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy and strengthening their sustainability processes and policies.
With an order book of over ₹25,000 crore and a revenue YTD growth (9 months of FY21) of 6%, led by robust execution in its railways and civil businesses, KEC continues to drive performance through a diversified portfolio. Maintaining a strong leadership position in its core Transmission & Distribution business, the company has acquired its eighth manufacturing plant in Dubai last year. It continues to scale-up its non-Transmission & Distribution businesses – which now contribute over 40% of revenues, compared to 17% in FY16 – with projects for high-speed trains, airports, warehouses, data centres, and water pipelines.
KEC continues to make headway in adopting mechanised and digitalised practices across its various functions. The company has also digitalised the tower testing process throughout its business operations.
CEAT has been the fastest growing company amongst Indian tyre majors, in FY21. The Chairman elaborated on how the company focused on the six Cs to help overcome the challenges of the pandemic, and ramped up production to improve agility in a post-Covid world.
CEAT continued to work towards enhancing the customer experience during the year. Success stories include the launch of On-the-Go Shoppe in association with Tyresnmore at Indore and Bhubaneshwar; CEAT Shoppes being repurposed to ensure a hassle-free and touchless experience for customers; and the introduction of initiatives such as ‘Spot Claim Resolution’ and ‘Unconditional Warranty’ to provide customers with a superior buying experience.
The Chairman announced that CEAT ranked amongst the Top 30 Great Places to Work among manufacturing companies in India, for the third consecutive year. The company was also awarded for the Best Risk Management Framework and Systems in the Auto Ancillary segment for 2020, by CNBC-TV18.
The Chairman extended a warm welcome to Ajay Bhutoria, who succeeds Sandeep Kishore as the CEO and MD of Zensar. During the year, the company expanded its customer base and delivered value in its core verticals of hi-tech, financial services and consumer services, ensuring that key customers like Microsoft, Assurant, Mastercard, CISCO, Macy’s, and NFU continued to partner with it. Three years ago, Zensar launched Vision 2021, aiming to be among the world’s leading digital and IT players. Today, its digital transformation journey had been showcased in case studies by Harvard Business School, London Business School, and the Indian School of Business.
Taking over the leadership from Sachin Nandgaonkar during the year, a warm welcome was extended to Rajat Bhargava, the new CEO – Speciality Sector & Head-Group Transformation, as well. Thanking Sachin for having put in place a robust foundation in the last six years for the companies in this sector, he wished Rajat an exciting phase ahead, and touched upon a few highlights from his plans for each of the companies.
Welcome was also extended to Vivek Venkatachalam who joined as the CEO of Raychem RPG in July 2020, a year of rebound for the company. The Chairman congratulated the team for their commitment and perseverance in ensuring a remarkable turnaround, and for continuing to make great strides as an equitable workplace by strengthening diversity and inclusion at Raychem. During the year, the company bagged the prestigious Golden Peacock Innovative Product Award.
RPG Life Sciences has seen a growth of 117% in its market cap from March 31 to December 31, 2020. The company continues to focus on developing new products, with several new launches in both domestic and global markets that have been well-received. Congratulating Yugal Sikri and his team, the Chairman spoke of the company’s new initiative – RPG Serv, an anytime, anywhere doctor support service, which is a first-of-its-kind in the pharma industry.
The tea business at Harrisons Malayalam Ltd (HML) achieved a decent profit, while the rubber business has also shown good results. The Chairman congratulated Cherian George, and recognised HML as a transparent and employee-friendly workplace, drawing from the 2020 GPTW survey where HML ranked fourth amongst the top 100 companies in the country.
Speaking on RPG Ventures, the Chairman highlighted how Seniority has been increasing its private label focus, releasing its own range of adult diapers and nutraceutical products, working on a personal care range for seniors, and launching The Evergreen Club, a digital engagement community for seniors. He further noted how Tyresnmore and E-Fleet Systems benefitted from Covid-induced tailwinds as customers accelerated digital adoption to either buy tyres online, or to manage and monitor their businesses.
The Chairman spoke with great pride about RPG Group winning the prestigious Economic Times - Most Innovative Company Award for 2020. This has further cemented innovation and digital as the bedrock of the Group’s growth journey. He also congratulated the teams that were selected to showcase the Group’s Top 30 entries in the recently held Innovation Festival. He expressed confidence that many of the ideas presented would help bring radical changes to the Group’s businesses and create strong differentiation, enabling them to outperform their industry peers.
The Foundation’s unwavering focus on serving and developing the communities has been seen in four key areas – generating employment, empowering communities, transforming education systems and reviving India’s glorious heritage. Its flagship programme, Pehlay Akshar, continues to encourage underprivileged children to learn English through teacher training programmes, the ‘A Story A Day’ initiative, and most recently by offering English classes on Doordarshan.
Speaking about the RPG Art Foundation, he touched upon the beautification programme organised in Mumbai through an art corridor that runs throughout the city.
The Chairman spoke about RPG Group’s endeavour to put people first and set new benchmarks in the industry through its people practices. These are reflected in its sector-agnostic remote working policy – a first amongst Indian conglomerates – and a commitment to honour offers to Group Management Resources (GMRs) and summer internships. The Group continues to promote a culture of trust, flexibility, and a focus on outcomes.
He also touched upon the importance of being digitally agile and RPG’s progress in this space. This includes digitalised HR processes, added capabilities to the BOTS used by all Group companies, and improved options and courses on its learning platform, Percipio.
Happiness continues to be at the core of all people initiatives at the Group. The Chairman stressed that the recent launch of the Happiness Survey would help drive initiatives to increase the happiness quotient for all RPG employees.
On a parting note, the Chairman shared a few key differentiators that would help the Group’s people and its businesses succeed, especially in the so-called ‘new-normal’.