Tata: The Business with Values - Wire & Cable India
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Tata: The Business with Values

Mr. Sunil Bhaskaran Executive-In-Charge Tata Steel, Global Wires

Tata Steel Global Wires Business is spread across India, Thailand, China and Sri Lanka having 9 wire manufacturing plants with additional outsourced capacities. With the inbuilt capabilities they cater to discerning customers both domestic and international. There primary focus is on construction business but they also possess large stakes in the Automobile, Power and Retail segments. In the retail segment they have a brand called “Tata Wiron”. In an Interview with Mr. Sunil Bhaskaran Executive-In-Charge Tata Steel, Global Wires elaborated on the challenges and opportunity in the above segments they work, initiatives taken by TATA with regards to ethics, safety, CSR and his views on trends in demand and supply. Dialogues:





Wire & Cable India: Kindly elaborate on the challenges and opportunity in your customer sectors in India.

Sunil Bhaskaran:

a. Automobile: Typical of auto customers across the world, this customer requires a lot of attention be it product quality, customer service in terms of delivery, application support, complaint management. They also require regular upgrades of product and equipment as their own technology changes. India is still developing as an automobile manufacturing power hub. We have a lot of domestic manufacturers and a fair sprinkling of global auto giants within our country.

Challenge for the vendors to auto giants is to compete with the best in the globe be it on product quality, service, technology or costs.

b. Power : India is still a power deficit country. We are still coming of age with increased urbanization and a modern power hungry economy. The power segment be it generation, transmission or distribution, it is still largely in the hands of government and semi government agencies. We need to harness the best out of all available in the world to offer in terms of technology and best practices in this segment. In my opinion the potential in the power sector for wires is more than that in all the other segments put together; but severely constrained by policies.

c. Construction : Rapid urbanization has given a big fillip to this segment. The customers here too have had the experience of operating in many developed economies and hence have embraced newer technologies faster than in other segments. Like the automobile segment, we will see a lot more happening on technology. But customers will be largely Indian construction companies unlike the automobile where we will see domination by global automobile companies.

d. Retail / Merchant Products : We started our branding journey in steel wires in early 2003 and have had a fair amount of success. But a lot of market development activities including brand building activities will be required. It is a long and arduous journey and will require people who are willing to invest for the long term to create value for them.

WCI: Ethics, Safety, Health & Environment are the key focus areas of your CSR, Kindly elaborate on each initiative taken.

SB: Ethics, Safety, Environment and Health are key and primary areas of how we do business. They are not our CSR activities. The Tata Group tag line itself is “Leadership with Trust”. We lay a lot of emphasis on credibility, transparency and the “ethical” way of doing business. Indeed more people are sacked in our group because of transgressing the ethical way rather than for poor performance.

We believe that our people are our most important resource. Thus it is important that we create an atmosphere in our plants and offices which are safe for them. But we as Indians lack a safety culture. Safety in daily life and practices does not come quickly to our minds. Thus we follow unsafe practices of crossing railway tracks, speeding on roads, pedestrians jaywalking on roads, not wearing seatbelts and many others. We similarly have a lackadaisical attitude to health (eating and lack of exercises). Thus it has been a difficult journey for us in safety and health. Dupont has helped us considerably in this area, but we have a long way to go.

Like safety, environment is another area of our weakness. But fortunately there is a greater awareness. The government too has been increasingly strict in enforcing environmental standards. But the Indian Wire Industry is made up of small, uneconomical and fragmented capacities and hence evades meeting environmental norms. Industry as a whole needs to take up a program on helping the industry and its constituents in improving their environmental standards for the general good.

WCI: How important is it to add value to the customer’s business and advice how the same can be done in the wire industry?

SB: As I said before, the customer expectations drive the business. If we cannot meet their expectations of today or of tomorrow we will cease to exist. For this you need to keep on listening to the customer and understand his stated and unstated needs and constantly innovate and improve to meet his expectations.

WCI: What trends you have seen on the manufacturing and the demand side of wire and what lies in the future?

SB: India is a growth story. Our PM has been talking repeatedly about 9% Y-o-Y growth. This will lead to increased per capita income, thus increased demand for infrastructure, urbanization, thus increased demand for automobiles, power, etc. But with this increased demand there will be increased customer expectations on quality, service. The surging demand will also see increased competitive pressures as more company’s especially foreign manufacturers eye the Indian markets.

WCI: Your comments on attracting and retaining talent at all levels.

SB: With the growth in IT and service industry including banking and retailing the market matrix are bright in India. Manufacturing has taken a back seat. Many young engineers, chartered accountants, MBA’s, even a skilled worker do not see manufacturing as an attractive industry to work in anymore. When I discuss with Indian entrepreneurs in manufacturing industry, they lament that their sons and daughter are not keen to carry on the legacy that they have built over the last 20 – 30 years. In this scenario it is important for us to create an exciting environment around them and put challenges which will attract them to wires along with financial rewards.



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