In conversation with Paresh Baghel, Business Strategist, Escorts Group
Please tell us about your professional & academic background. Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?
I am an electrical engineer and an MBA in Finance from Asian Institute of Management, Manila (Batch 2008). I started my career in front end sales for a telecom firm during the days when telecom industry had just started on its spectacular growth journey in 2003. The markets of UP were traditionally the ones with the lowest market penetration and thus with the highest potential and although it was hard work, insights into customer psyche were immense. Post my grad school I ventured into the field of Business Strategy and worked first with IBM on business strategy assignments and then with large corporates on devising and implementing Market Entry and Product Strategy projects that focused on top-line growth. While working on these assignments I got involved in mature scale business transformation and change-management assignments that were critical in achieving the strategic objectives that we laid out in the first place.
In my current organization I am focusing on Sales & Marketing transformation for the company. We are in the process of aggressively expanding our distribution channel in India and Abroad and realigning our sales team to make it leaner and much more responsive to customer expectations and committed delivery standards by bringing in Prospect Management System and integrating it with our own CRM system. Apart from Channel expansion we have also launched a new branding initiative for the company that is in line with the changing customer expectations and our own vision to be amongst the foremost engineering companies in India by 2020.
New Branding Campaign
Can you describe what a typical day @ office is like?
My typical day in office starts pretty early. In office at around 7:30 am, next one hour is spent scheduling and planning the entire day’s activities. Post the team meeting at 9:00 where we review the previous day’s work and discuss the day that has just started, I go on to team meetings with CXOs and Business Heads where we generally do white-boarding to imagine our own future and selectively work on projects that have got mandated from the board. Afternoon time is spent interacting with the channel and our business partners to take stock of the initiatives that ensure critical bottlenecks expected in the weeks ahead are softened out.
I love to travel and this profile allows me to meet people and hear their experiences, their perception of the personality that our brand exhibits in the market and their wonderful insights into product applications. I take these feed-backs with great care, back to the drawing board and start the cycle again, to converge our product offerings to our customer’s expectations.
Prospect Management Life cycle
What are the factors you look at while devising an optimal business mix for your organization?
There are various factors that lead to creating a successful product mix. We have experienced engineers who are brilliant at giving technical inputs that are enablers to better our product offering. Some tend to call it the “Unique Selling Proposition”. I, with my limited experience always tend to take the side of the customer and try and bring the OUTSIDE IN perspective into the business. So whether it’s deciding on what machine applications would be better suited to the product, we also like to look at what machine applications are appreciated by the customer and make his life easier. We call it a “Unique Customer Proposition”. Along with this, I also have to maintain a fine line so as to maintain a product portfolio that satisfies the needs of our channel, the expectations of the customer and the capacity of our manufacturing setup. A skew towards any of the three poles is harmful for us.
How important is Business Analytics when it comes to being part of your strategic planning? What are some of the business analytic tools that you use?
Analytics is the backbone of decision making nowadays and even in a B2B context it makes a lot of sense. We are no longer the demography but also the psychography of our demand landscape. Our machines are GPS enabled that helps us analyze real time data of machine usage. This is of immense help to the parts and service team and they have increasingly become better at predicting machine breakdown. Analytics is helping us shorten our Average response time (ARP) and turnaround time (TAT) by 250% and 150% respectively in a matter of one year. Business Analytics is also helping us predict which prospective customer has a higher propensity to buy our machine based on past records, this helps us plan our sales pitch effectively.
Business Analytics Life cycle
You’ve worked across a variety of roles in various sectors, how diverse are all these roles and do they influence your thinking when devising a sound strategy for any business?
I have been lucky to work on front end sales. There is also a time when I managed operations of a manufacturing unit and even though for a brief period, but got to understand the trials and tribulations of a business head. It was also a period of great learning and then as a business strategist, I got a chance to effect real change into businesses. The breadth of experience not only gave me a chance to understand the business economics but also gave me an interesting insight into human relations and off-late I have become a serious student and an observer of human behavior in organization. I have always believed that our employees are our first customers but I also maintain that our end consumers are our most important stakeholders. This thought and philosophy has helped me greatly in my pursuit towards excellence.
What personal skills are important for a business strategist?
Necessarily, I think one has to have a knack of being good with people. I heard someone say that kindness is more important a virtue than wisdom and I tend to agree. It’s another topic of discussion but to keep it short, in a dynamically changing business environment, it becomes critical that a strategy professional has a knack to connect with people, whether they be customers or employees.
Once this is understood, I think a business strategist has to have a knack of looking at excel sheets and have the ability to look beyond F2. There is a story behind numbers and that has to be felt rather than analyzed. Finally I think we have to be well read and generously aware of the macro-economic environment and have the independent ability to think and form an opinion.