Repainting the walls: Jayanta Poddar, MD & CEO, Decorazzi Paints and Coatings
Selected as India’s Most Trusted CEO 2020, Jayanta Poddar, MD & CEO of Decorazzi Paints and Coatings is driving the industry with his dynamic and vision oriented leadership style.
What has influenced your decision-making process at various stage?
Values and culture of the organization have influenced my decision-making process the most at various stage in my career. In my personal life too values and principles play the most important role while taking a decision.
Other than this, there are two more important factors, viz. sustainability and process orientation which also have influenced my decision-making process. Any important decision would have a long-term significance hence, you need to ensure that the decision can be sustained in a long period of time or till the time you want.
At the end of the day an organization should be process driven rather than person driven and hence, before making any decision, you must ensure that systems & processes are in place to implement the decision effectively.
An accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
The most significant accomplishment in my career so far was laying foundation of a brand and taking it to a level where it got awarded as “Promising Brand 2019” by The Economic Times within 5 years of its lunch. This accomplishment is even more significant since we had not spent a single penny in advertisement or other traditional marketing promotions except digital campaign through social media. The brand has been built purely on Product Quality, Go-To-Market Strategy and Channel Partner Strategy.
How do you integrate corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility as a part of your business strategy?
As I understand, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial, and public expectations that society has of business. CSR has a broader scope as it addresses the overall attitude of an organization towards its employees, customers, the environment, local community, and the society at large.
We as an organization need not to make any special effort to integrate CSR as a part of our business strategy as it is an integral part of our business since inception. In fact, we exists because of our social responsibility. Just to elaborate, traditional paints are highly hazardous for human health and environment however, none of us are aware of that. Hence, from day one we make and market non-hazardous paints only which are health and environment friendly and at the same time we have tried to build awareness among the consumers through social media.
Not only the customer, we also have social responsibilities towards our employees and community. For example, all of our employees are covered under social security schemes like provident fund, gratuity, ESIC etc. from the day we started when we had only one employee. As per the rule you can avoid spending money on those social schemes till you reach a minimum no. of employees. It shows our commitment towards social responsibility.
For the community and the society at large, we have taken baby steps. We provide mid-day meal to a primary school having over 60 students. We also have taken responsibility of 2 girl child for their education.
It is well known that programmes that are peripheral to the main business are the first candidates to budget cuts at difficult times. On the contrary, when it gets harder, there will be a strong drive to enhance the CSR practice more and better as it is an integral part of the business.
What has been your driving force or philosophy in life?
I believe that you cannot win silver, you can only lose gold. This is my driving force; however, it is not my philosophy in life.
Life philosophy and driving force may not be the same. Philosophy in life may change with experience and with maturity. Life is much bigger than anything else. When you brush near death or the death of someone you care about – your philosophy of life has a way of getting clearer. The experience of nearness to death acts as a jolt that prompts you to change your philosophy – to live, as it were, on purpose and to make it count. In the face of mortality, we think hard about what matters the most and the things that come to mind are no surprise: family, friendships, treating people well, learning etc.
How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
Success can be defined in many ways. Success is a journey, not a destination. The measurement of success will vary from personal life to professional life and social life. Success to me is not giving up, standing your ground when you believe in something even if it takes years to achieve a goal. Success is learning that losing a few battles can help me win a war. Success to me is a recognition. In social life, success would be contributing something for the society or served your nation in any manner when needed or add values in others life. Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences and you will find that you naturally become more successful.
Ultimately, if I want to define success in one sentence, I will say that if you are happy you are successful.
Now, when I measure up my success to my own definition, I think I have come the halfway in my journey and a lot needs to be achieved further. Yes, I am happy what I do since it gives tangible results. The demand of work-life balance never crossed my mind since, I enjoy my work and take pride in my job hence, I never feel tired and that is a big success. Though recognitions have come along my way both nationally and internationally, still it is a long way to go. I keep on upgrading my goals and in the process have failed no. of times but I got up bounced back acknowledging previous mistakes from failure. I never give up.
We are constantly making things better, faster, smarter, or less expensive. In other words, we strive to do more with less. Tell me about a recent project or solution to a problem that you have made better, faster, smarter, or less expensive?
Traditional paints are highly hazardous for human health due to heavy metals, e.g. lead, presence in it. Those are hazardous for environment as well due to a higher Volatile Organic Compound (VOC). We at Decorazzi markets lead free and low VOC paints since inception which are significantly less hazardous for human health and environment. This has been the philosophy and vision, in an endeavour to provide better and non-hazardous products to all Indian household.
Further, we are introducing a new business model which cuts layers of cost in the value chain and hence become less expensive for the consumers. Also, our digital first strategy will ensure a smarter way of painting your home where you as an actual consumer takes your own decision through a mobile app.
In your opinion what is the most significant aspect of leadership?
There is no single universally superior leadership style. Having said that, in my opinion the most significant aspect of leadership is to inspire trust regardless of what your leadership style is. In a nutshell, a leader has to be reliable, adaptable, receptive, empower people, have patience, walk the talk, and do not find faults just for sake of it. However, other than the skills, personality traits and strengths influence leadership to a large extent. Personality traits like, passion, decisiveness, determination, humility, and strengths like, courage of conviction, communication, clarity of thought etc. makes a leader counted.
As a leader, which organizational function are you most inclined to and why? Is it marketing and sales, workplace culture, product development, finance & accounting, training & development, business development or any other function?
I am most inclined to Marketing. Business is marketing and it excites me. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. I strongly believe that marketing creates needs as well. Marketing solves consumers problem and fuel consumers desire. I am passionate about building brands. The process of brand building starts with examining consumer behaviour and market research. This is one of the most exciting part of business where you actually interact with the consumer and the world of human behaviour unfolds before you. This study helps you to decide brand communication strategy that gives birth of unforgettable creatives. Welcome to the exciting world of marketing.
According to you what are the 5 most serious CEO attributes that contributes to organizational development, leadership development and workplace governance. How do you ensure that these are followed?
The 5 most serious CEO attributes that contributes to organizational development, leadership development and workplace governance would be, Effective communication, Decision making, Reliability, Empowering people, and adaptability.
I follow a step by step systematic approach. First and foremost is proper and effective communication. The biggest issue in any organization whether big or small, that all stakeholders are not on the same page. So, first I bring all stakeholders into common understanding of organizational goal through intra and inter functional meet. Once all functions are aligned, my 50% job is done. Next important job is to develop functional leaders by way of delegation and empowerment who implement all decisions. Each and every decision has to abide by all statutory and legal compliances. Rest is to keep a close tab on important things and change course if needed.
The key driving factors that make you a successful task master and an empathetic leader?
One cannot be a task master and an empathetic leader at the same time. The key is to take the best parts of each management style and combine them to create my own approach. However, one’s personality traits play a major role in leadership style. For me, the key driving factor is to make it a best place to work. My style is empathetic leadership without compromising the task. The organization cannot grow beyond a certain point if one has to follow up with everybody to get any job done. Empathetic leadership style helps people to develop as a self-motivated individual hence, a minimum follow up is required.
How do you create balance between target creations, achievements and an effective workplace culture and motivation?
I do not restrict people giving them a target. I firmly believe that humans are stretchable in nature and they can achieve beyond your expectation. I have experienced this phenomenon in one of the large organizations I worked for where no target was given however, growth in every year was by far the best in the industry. The key is the recognition of achievements. Not only the achievers are rewarded but also the non-achievers are given sufficient encouragement to become an achiever. In the process everybody is motivated to attain a greater height year-on-year.
One thing you wish to change and one thing you wish to retain about your industry?
Change: I wish to involve the consumer to take informed decision of their own in terms of different product quality, choice of products and elements of costs. Traditionally, all those important decisions are taken by the influencers keeping the consumers in dark.
Retain: Choices are abundant. One can choose product in various price point as per their budget. In fact, in some product category the price difference is so narrow that at times customers are confused and spoilt for choices. Over and above that, every now and then new products are developed and added into the product portfolio for both lower and upper segment of the market which creates further confusion. But let it be like that.
One thing you have to let go off as an entrepreneur/leader?
Not to make every single decision. Let go some control over every detail by allowing others to make decision.
Whom do you owe your success to?
Firstly, my parents for instilling values and giving me free hand to decide and choose my career path. Secondly, my family for tolerating my workaholic nature and thirdly, my first boss in the corporate world who taught me everything and care for me like his son.
Best thing about your job?
Challenges in every moment. Joy in every achievement irrespective of small or big. Bounce back from each failure. And stay like a family.
A message from you to all the future entrepreneurs/leaders?
Never give up.