Al Rajwani, the new managing director and chief executive of consumer goods heavyweight P&G India, takes charge on Wednesday to implement the group's new global strategy...
Al Rajwani, the new managing director and chief executive of consumer goods heavyweight P&G India, takes charge on Wednesday to implement the group's new global strategy: "faster and more profitable growth all to drive strong shareholder value creation". The 55-year-old US citizen of Indian origin has delivered double-digit growth for P&G in markets where he managed its operations. In India, where the maker of brands such as Pampers, Tide and Head &Shoulders has been criticised for its inconsistent growth strategy, expectations on him would be nothing short.
"The Indian consumer is my boss," Rajwani told ET, calling India a melting pot of many countries in one. "Coming to India as P&G India's CEO is like coming a full circle for me."
Rajwani was part of a grand send-off to the man he is replacing, Shantanu Khosla, that went into the wee hours on Thursday last week. It was attended by the entire organisation and colleagues who travelled from outside India, joined by others through videoconferencing from Singapore. Khosla, a popular leader in the company, formally ended his 13-year tenure on Tuesday.
Rajwani addressed a town hall two weeks ago, winning P&G employees with his informal and jovial talk, interspersed with Hindi shayaris and songs. "We were quite nervous, Shantanu having been a great boss to work with. The new MD has clearly put in efforts to make us comfortable and at ease," said a top executive on the conditions of anonymity.
Rajwani told ET that he deeply admired "the best-in-class" business results that Khosla and the India organisation had delivered over the last decade. "I am highly excited to go after this huge and exciting opportunity that is arguably one of the biggest within P&G, by continuing to drive this business to profitable growth."
He is known to adapt easily to local cultures. A Korean daily, the Chosunilbo, had praised Rajwani in early 2000 for his ability to speak the Korean language easily and for being comfortable in eating traditional Korean dishes, including dog meat. The affinity with the Korean culture had paid off, enabling P&G Korea to enjoy 10-15% growth.
For Rajwani, the prime focus here will be executing the India mandate. "The P&L focus and strategy of any P&G subsidiary is always a global mandate. It has nothing to do with the local leader's decision. P&G's global mandate is focusing on fewer big brands and profitable growth. Executing that strategy is the leader's job," said a top executive.
Rajwani was previously P&G's vice president for Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan. He has 34 years of experience at P&G, and worked in the US, Canada, China and Korea as well. Under him, P&G's Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan business grew in double digits. He has already spent several weeks in India, meeting P&G's leadership team and employees, and doing market visits.
Khosla, the previous India head, was understood to have been offered a role outside the country as part of the global management changes made recently by the Cincinnati, USbased consumer goods entity. Khosla, who has in the past clearly stated that he will never move out of India, chose to quit and look for other ventures within the country.
In an email response to ET's queries, Khosla said the growth potential of the Indian consumer market is more exciting now than in the past. "It (India) is now a key growth market for P&G and will stay so for the foreseeable future. I will always look back at it with great satisfaction both professionally and personally. However, as I move to this phase of my life, I am looking forward to new experiences and new challenges," he said.
"Shantanu has had the longest tenure of any CEO in any MNC FMCG company where he has consistently led the India business to success for over 13 years. The CEO of P&G India is a coveted role across P&G and Shantanu as the leader of the India business for 13 years has proved to be the right decision for the business and the organisation," a P&G spokesperson said.
Live: People Reading Now