Jamshed Cooper is the Managing Director of HeidelbergCement India Limited (since 2014) and Zuari Cement Limited. He has gained practical experience in corporate management, cost leadership, strategy building, brand management, channel management, HR management, procurement, company integration and many more throughout his professional career. He pioneered the 25kg cement packing and successfully launched bulk cement for the first time in India. Jamshed has increased productivity as well as the profitability of the company as the Managing Director.
Here is an exclusive conversation with Jamshed Cooper to understand the future of cement industry and his personal experiences in enhancing it, in the capacity of HeidelbergCement India Limited with small and steady milestones.
Expanding Footprint through Acquisitions
HeidelbergCement is one of the world’s largest integrated manufacturers of building materials with leading market positions in aggregates, cement and ready to mix concrete. The company entered India after acquiring the erstwhile Mysore cement, Cochin cement, as well as a JV with Indorama cement in 2006. It gradually expanded its footprint from an initial capacity of 2.3 million tons to the current capacity of 14 million tons. The expansion has been achieved through brownfield investment, including the acquisition of Italcementi. At present the company operates as HeidelbergCement India Ltd. (a listed entity) in Central India and Zuari Cement Ltd. in South India.
A Multitasker in the Cement Industry
Jamshed Cooper manages affairs of both the companies as a Managing Director. He joined as a Sales Director for the organisation when the company entered India in 2006. Jamshed has acquired about 37 years of experience in multiple industries. He was associated with ACC, currently known as Holcim Group Co. for almost 22 years before joining HeidelbergCement. Jamshed has also gained experience in other fields such as Corporate Management, Cost Leadership, Strategy Building, Brand Management, Logistics, Channel Management, Rural Marketing, Feasibility Studies & Project Implementation, Human Resource Management, IT Systems, and Procurement.
Where Means Matter the Most
Jamshed’s initial career in the consumer durable industry has provided him with a better understanding of consumer behaviour such as the importance of post-sale customer service, which goes beyond selling and installation of products. The cement industry has made him realise yet another dimension for achieving results, ie. understanding “What not to do”, as wrong actions have a massive impact on destroying goodwill. As he gradually moved up the ladder, one of the biggest challenges of Jamshed’s career was to change the thought process of his colleagues. Jamshed firmly believes that the means of achievement are far more important than the achievement itself. The sustainability of the achievement and the future growth will become uncertain if the means are not fair. He has learnt throughout his life that one can never achieve perfection. That being said, Jamshed prefers to remain in a state of constructive dissatisfaction that motivates him to learn every day.
Jamshed mentioned that every manager acquires its own vision and has to face challenges in the journey of transforming ideas into viable products or services. The most uphill task was to place his vision before his colleagues and make them understand his point of view. It has been a hard task to set a benchmark against the best-performing companies and motivate the colleagues that it is possible to achieve the same position. Stakeholders always consider the top management to act like magicians in achieving milestones within a short span of time. Thus, time constraints have posed the most arduous challenge in this journey. Nevertheless, to Jamshed, it is always preferable to split the bigger challenge into smaller goals to succeed in small steps. These small and steady milestones have reinforced the confidence in the mindset of the team who started owning his challenges as a part of the shared vision for the organisation.
A Few Pointers for Enthusiastic CEOs
“People are the ones who deliver, not the machines and money.” The Managing Director therefore considers that, it is a prerequisite for a businesses to provide its employees with an environment of trust, transparency and equal opportunities for all. The mentor is required to empower and inspire the team to dream and strive for the impossible missions. It is essential to build a culture of innovation that allows employees to experiment because past actions that delivered resultsthen are unlikely to work in the upcoming years.
Every CEO should reinforce the foundations of the business with a mix of strong values, ethical practices and compliances to consistently envisage the future. The main responsibility of the CEO is to prepare the business from compromising the long-term sustainability goals besides delivering the short-term results. According to Jamshed, the essential role of the CEO is to walk the extra mile and generate sufficient resources to serve society, employees as well as stakeholders. The topmost executive should be responsible for the security of every employee so that they return safely with a smile to their loved ones at home. The CEO is required to keep reminding the employees that their business actions should not result into environment degradation as we have the responsibility to “make the world a better place to live for generations to come”.
A Pioneer in Innovations
India considers cement as a consumer product whereas the developed economies consider it to be an industrial product. Over decades cement has not changed significantly in its use and properties but significant innovation has been observed to optimise energy consumption, emissions, logistics as well as increase the use of alternative fuels, addition of additives, digitization and so on. The company gives credit to its parent in Germany for the technical supportin multiple innovations aimed at brand building, CRM, digitization and promotion of environment-friendly green cement.
Adopting Digitisation to Boost Productivity
According to Jamshed, the cement industry has witnessed its fair share in digitization that has been transforming multiple industries across the world. AI has been aiding and is replacing human decision-making process thusmaking it an eminent winner in automation. Leaders have to extend their learning horizons and keep updated with the emerging technologies in this fast-paced automated era. Going forward leaders will have to manage people and technology together .HeidelbergCement started investing in automation at an early stage and that has helped the manufacturing processes, maintenance, data management, CRM, remote plant management and many more to get digitised consistently. All these disruptive technologies are developing a breed of employees and leaders who will possess a great amount of agility in their decision-making process, forecasting ability, preparedness for the dynamic future as well as act in unforeseen situation with greater speed.
Extensive Research for Sustainable Development
Cement is the second-largest material on Earth after water. There are extensive researches to find alternate building materials due to the limited limestone reserves on this planet. But none has been discovered or invented that could be industrially produced, like Portland Cement, at a budget-friendly cost. HeidelbergCement has invested in research in a big way, especially in the areas of developing sustainable building materials, carbon-neutral concrete, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) as well as high-strength cement. The pioneering efforts of the Group will be demonstrated when the world’s first carbon-neutral cement plan will open for full commercial operation by 2030. HC India has also created a roadmap to massively reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by 2030.
The sustainability issue is becoming more pressing as the industry is moving forward into the unprecedented future. There will be a need for significant investments to comply with the future sustainability norms. The company has already started adapting cutting-edge technologies at an initial stage but has continued to invest more to stay ahead of the curve. At present, the cement per capita consumption in India is around 230 kg, which is almost half of the global average consumption. This shows that the Indian cement industry has a brighter future going forward.
Essential Staircases to Success
Jamshed believes that there is no substitute for hard work. The emerging business leaders have to make use of the available time judiciously to succeed in life. As it is said that “Time and Tide wait for none”. Hence, there is a need for faster learning of modern technologies in this fast-paced digitization era. This will generate a breed of people who would resist being managed by superiors. Aspiring leaders should transform themselves from managers into inspirational role models to make the employees deliver sufficient results. It is essential to step up the emotional quotient through empathy. Jamshed believes that one has to establish fairness and transparency to receive the respect of the team. Aspiring executives should keep enhancing stakeholder value in this materialistic world. This will require unconditional perseverance and mentoring people with patience. “Where societies fail, a business cannot flourish”. Jamshed recommends keeping a finger on the nerve of the society, check its pulse even in the hustle and bustle of the business.
Management: Jamshed Cooper, CEO and Managing Director of HeidelbergCement India