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Breaking down barriers: Women leaders making new strides in manufacturing

Breaking down barriers: Women leaders making new strides in manufacturing

In an exclusive panel discussion with 'Ladies Who Lead', Dipali Goenka CEO & Joint MD Welspun India Ltd, Vinati Saraf Mutreja CEO and MD Vinati Organics Ltd. delved into their journey, sharing strategies, diversity in their companies and navigating the way forward

Vinati Saraf Mutreja CEO and MD Vinati Organics Ltd., and Dipali Goenka CEO & Joint MD Welspun India Ltd. Vinati Saraf Mutreja CEO and MD Vinati Organics Ltd., and Dipali Goenka CEO & Joint MD Welspun India Ltd.

Crisis leads to rebirth and reinvention, and two companies that are the shining examples of this are Welspun India Ltd. and Vinati Organics Ltd. 

Driven by women CEOs, both companies faced their crisis with conviction and smart strategies to build an outstanding business and now they are also paving the way for women in male-dominated fields. 

In an exclusive panel discussion with Ladies Who Lead at The Quorum, Mumbai on October 6, Dipali Goenka CEO & Joint MD Welspun India Ltd, Vinati Saraf Mutreja CEO and MD Vinati Organics Ltd. delved into their journey, sharing strategies, diversity in their companies and navigating the way forward. 

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Vinati Saraf Mutreja may be one of the youngest leaders in her field, but her decisions and choices have taken the company to a 20,000 crore market cap. 

One of her early key decisions of getting in expert consultants to improve the quality of the products increased their market share and as chance would have it, their key competitor, a US-based firm, shut operations in the next five years which catapulted their sales threefold.  

As she says, "It's about choices and chances." Typically, a speciality chemical company is not where you would find a lot of female diversity as the job starts on the shop floor and factory conditions are not the most conducive, but Vinati Organics breaks the mould. The company's board currently has 50% women directors, something that only 1% of the top-ranking companies boast of. 
  
A similar story is echoed at Welspun. When Dipali joined the company there were only 7% women in the workforce, today they comprise 30% with the number only increasing due to her initiatives that support women weavers and workers. 

Navigating the company through a supply chain crisis in 2016, her biggest learning was that innovation is the way forward and knowing the customer inside out.

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"I always believe that with a crisis comes innovation and we created the world defining innovation of traceability called Wel-Track." 

Wel-Track is a state-of-the-art innovation that can trace back a finished product to its original source of raw material-the farm that the cotton came from. 

Another strategy implemented was setting up a brain trust in the US with 3,000 to 4,000 home enthusiasts who gave feedback on what products would sell and what won't, changing the company's trajectory and making Welspun towels one in every four towels bought in the US. 

Dipali is also a driving force when it comes to sustainability in the industry and her efforts were recently recognised when Welspun, which upcycles rags to make rugs, cushions and craft related products, was named as one of the top 100 corporate ready social enterprises, in a list by the World Economic Forum. 
 
(The author is Senior Editor & Anchor, Business Today TV at India Today Group. Founder, Ladies Who Lead.)