Saturday, August 22, 2009

Flavours, Fragrance and more...

Ice cream, biscuits, confectionery, snacks and carbonated drinks- apart from their lip smacking and finger licking taste, a vital aspect of these products is their smell or flavour. International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) is the company behind a lot of these flavours and fragrances that we consume; and Mr. Sridhar Balakrishnan its Managing Director is the man behind its Indian operations. It was our privilege to hear from him about this unique company and its prudent adoption of the latest business practices.

Mr. Sridhar defined flavour as a consumption that leaves a lasting impact. With its presence across 31 countries in the globe and with annual sales of 2.4 billion USD the company invested heavily into its R&D, spending 9% of their sales on it. Through R&D, they tried to concoct innovative recipes that will enhance the flavour of a food product and ameliorate the fragrance of perfumes, skin care products and detergents. IFF has an impressive client list including Unilever, Pepsico, Amul, Nestle, Wrigley, P&G, Johnson & Johnson and Henkel, to name a few. They have created a significant presence in all major categories of flavours and fragrance. Highlighting the relevance of change management, Mr. Sridhar cited the example of his company. The business scenario for IFF a few decades back was that of a monopolistic player enjoying dominance. They were sales oriented and reactive in their approach. He highlighted the fact that they had no compulsion to change but they still did! IFF shifted gears from being reactive to proactive. They began anticipating changes in customer requirements and remodeled their approach to deliver based on specific customer needs.

Citing various other instances, he stressed the importance of constant change and the advantages of being proactive. Mr. Sridhar emphasized the need for timing change and also spoke explicitly about enhancing core competencies and business preparedness. The current business scenario spells expanding international exposure, increased number of players and high consumer awareness and therefore it is imperative that constant innovation should be imbibed as a part of the work process. He also suggested possible ways to handle constraints such as time and people issues, retention of customer focus, prioritization and customer conflicts. He felt the bottom-line was in prioritizing and making the right choices to avoid conflict of any sort.

Mr. Sridhar effectively enlaced fragrance and flavours with business concepts. He summarized stating that change is inevitable and goaded us to make the change happen before it pushes us. His talk was flavoured with valuable components and we are certain that it will definitely have a lasting effect on us!

Contributed by Meena Ganesh Ram, HR Varsity, CBS Batch 4, 2009-10.

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