India Inc veteran and Marico Chairman Harsh Mariwala urged companies and entrepreneurs to value talent more than ever before. It plays the most important role in any business, he said.
While delivering the closing keynote address at IvyCap Day 2022 (organized by IvyCap Ventures), Mariwala said, "There is a war for talent and that will only increase as India's growth accelerates. You have to take the talent issue as seriously as your growth and market share."
Mariwala lamented that several businesses become lackadaisical when it comes to building out their HR function, which goes on to impact all their future hires. "Some companies don't treat HR at the same level [as other divisions]. If you want sustainable success, you have to treat HR very seriously," he explained.
Mariwala recounted the early days of Marico (which was carved out of his family business Bombay Oil Industries) when finding good "FMCG-specific" talent was a huge challenge.
He shared, "FMCG talent in brand building and distribution would mainly come from MNCs like Unilever, P&G, L'Oréal those days. They would run away if we called them to our Masjid Bunder [a wholesale market and maritime area in South Bombay] office. So, we met them at Willingdon Club [an upscale private sports club] and assured them that we would move into a better office soon."
When Marico moved to the posh environs of Bandra Reclamation, Mariwala hired a head of HR first. "That also allowed me to recruit FMCG-specific talent. My top 30 people became a melting point of cultures, and everybody behaved differently based on their experiences," he revealed.
"Talent should be diverse in terms of gender, education, and experience. You can create magic in innovative thinking that way," he added.
In his keynote, the Marico Chairman also underscored the need for a flat organizational structure to power an open culture and continuous innovation. "A flat structure forces managers to delegate more. There is less hierarchy, more agility, and very good talent," he said.
It seems to have borne fruit for the company that employs nearly 1.7 lakh people. As high as 80 per cent of the current leadership team at Marico is homegrown talent, according to its FY21 annual report.
It seems to be scoring well on the diversity front too, with 40 per cent of leadership hires and 56 per cent of campus recruits being women.
Mariwala summed up by saying, "We are market leaders in 95 per cent of our businesses. An innovative and open culture with good talent has played a key role in that."
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