Deepak ParikhRegion Head – India, Clariant

Dr. Deepak Parikh is the Region Head – India for Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals. He is the Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Clariant Chemicals (India) Limited. He is also on the Board of four other Clariant entities in India.

A dynamic strategist, an energizer – Dr. Parikh joins Clariant from Lion Copolymer (USA), where he held dual roles as the Chief Vice President of Asia Pacific Business and Chief Technology Officer. Prior to this, he worked with Dow Chemical and DuPont in USA and Asia for almost 20 years where he held various global and regional leadership roles in commercial, R&D and business development functions. Dr. Parikh is a US citizen, with over 25 years of experience in general administration, M&A, divesture, creating new platforms, driving change management and delivering business growth in emerging markets in the chemicals and plastics industry. He is a chemical engineer from Bombay University (UICT) and is the youngest person to obtain a PhD from University of Tennessee’s Engineering Department. He is the holder of 40 US patents.

His Team describes Dr. Parikh as an easily approachable and affable person; who believes in an open door policy. A team person – he believes that every employee is an asset to the company and each one of them has the innate ability to perform and deliver in their respective realm of activity. A strong believer in people – he feels it is they who make the difference and not just the strategies. He believes that reducing bureaucracy and raising efficiency is the hallmark of any effective organization.

Dr. Parikh’s family includes his wife – Ani, who has been an IT Director for 15 years with Dow and DuPont and is currently engaged in Volunteer services for the cause of children’s education; his daughter Esha is studying to qualify as an anesthesiologist while his son Amish is in college and aspires to qualify as a cardiologist.

1. How has the market evolved in the last few years?

The chemical sector in recent years has given rise to many MNCs and large conglomerates in India. According to the report by Tata Strategic Management Group, Indian chemical industry is likely to touch $ 190 billion by 2017-18. The specialty chemicals market, which is currently valued at approximately $ 23 billion, is estimated to reach $ 60-70 billion by 2020. Indian specialty chemicals market has shown a strong growth at 14% per annum over the last 5 years. While the growth rate is encouraging due to small base, the consumption and overall penetration levels of specialty chemicals are still very low in India.

Recently, with the Make In India campaign, our honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi expressed his desire to make India an export hub, making our manufacturing capability in India robust for supplying to the entire globe. The specialty chemicals industry earlier, mostly comprising smaller and family owned companies, was fragmented, however in the recent past the sector is more organized with the upsurge of bigger companies.

To make India a manufacturing hub for specialty chemicals, it is essential for manufacturers to understand local needs, develop solutions to meet these needs with enhanced environmental standards and emphasize on product quality and stewardship.

India, a consumer driven market with strong economic growth and rising per-capita income has caused a steady increase in demand for consumer goods/solutions which in turn has created a huge opportunity for chemicals. The industry has moved from a low-growth and regulated environment to an increasingly mature core industry. With Asia’s increasing contribution to the global chemical industry, India emerges as one of the focus destinations for chemical companies worldwide. The industry accounts for 15.95% of India’s manufacturing and 2.51% of overall GDP. The industry is already making a major contribution to “Make in India” and is expected to grow at a rate of 15% per annum over the next few years.

2. What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently? And what are the steps you are taking?

For succeeding globally,one requires to develop a global view, while using local knowledge to understand particular challenges in markets around the world. Indian executives need to understand different business contexts and be able to identify opportunities, leading to better business decisions about global markets. So we invest heavily in leadership skill development to drive an entrepreneurial mindset.

Our organizational DNA changes with each acquisition and divestment that we embark on. Hence, it is imperative that we invest in cultural integration andenhancing team culture.We lay emphasis on team bonding events, cross-BU collaborations and provide our employees access to highly advanced technologies, superior infrastructure and the global best practices.Thus we focus on flagship programs (Clariant Excellence) to enhanceproductivity and efficiency.

3.How have the changes in technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

The chemical industry has been quite mature with respect to technology adoption. The positive business environment, surging consumer demands, technological upgradation and several other factors have facilitated the initial steps to improvement in the Indian chemical industry. These changes are progressive, however not overwhelming.

Globalization has indeed affected the Indian chemical sector and the recent Chinese slowdown, global oil prices, US shale gas prices, etc. have all had an effect. Similarly, the Fed rates hike, if it happens, is expected to affect investments in emerging economies. As of today, there is oversupply of materials in the industry, which will take due course of time to stabilize.This is the time to be nimble-footed and focus on efficiency in this sector.

4.How does the growth prospect of your organization look like for the next 12-24 months?

It is my firm belief that Clariant in India will be able to capture mega trends that are evolving in the country; especially with the rapid urbanization and growing consumerism. Keeping this in mind, we have continued to work hard over the years, restructured and revitalized our businesses to future-proof the company.

We are optimistic of our robust growth in the future. Our focus will be to invest across the country to develop production, technical support and commercial service capabilities that will enable our customers grow their business successfully. We will continue to scout for effective bolt-on acquisition opportunities, towards enhancing stakeholder value. We are developing a mindset within the ecosystem to accelerate change and channelize our focus on aggressive sales and marketing strategies.

5. Will there be any significant change in the market dynamics in next few years? If so, what steps are you taking for the same?

India currently accounts for approximately 3% of the world chemical market. The specialty chemical segment is a significant driver of growth within this market. According to a report released by McKinsey & Co, India’s specialty chemical industry is likely to grow 4-5 times to $ 80-100 billion by 2020. The demand for specialty chemicals is driven by a wide range of end user industries. With changing market dynamics and urbanization across India, there is pressure on infrastructure and resources, thus generating huge demands for direct as well as indirect industries like ours in the next few years.

Anticipating future demands, we at Clariant in India are identifying and developing the next generation of business leaders. Also, we have continued to work hard over the years to make ourselves resilient/less dependent on fluctuating oil prices. We have also identified the need to get into segments that are immune to raw material pricing such as bio-based technologies, which aligns with our commitment to sustainability.

Clariant in India is contributing towards its responsibility to the next generation by way of a sustainable legacy, whether through its innovative products, energy-efficient processes or its community initiatives. Sustainability initiatives in the industry are equally as important as manufacturing. Taking cue from the Prime Minister’s vision, we strongly advocate and drive the concept of ‘Make in India and Sell in India!

6. In a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity & ambiguity (VUCA), innovation has become one of the most important factors to transform a crisis into an opportunity. How do you promote Innovation?

Clariant follows a customer-centric approach and we are able to provide our customers with innovative and technologically advanced solutions. We constantly innovate to be able to offer tailor-made solutions by listening intently to what our customers imply. We believe that innovation is not just about developing new molecules, but also about process improvement and localized solutions; this way we strategize with our customers, helping them grow. Clariant in India promotes innovation by driving ‘glocal’ solutions for customers in India. In this endeavor, we have as well started our Regional Innovation Center in India to develop sustainable and local solutions to make our customers more successful via differentiated positioning.

7. How Indian leaders can become Global Leaders?

The leadership DNA is present in Indian talent, as seen from the alumni of IITs or IIMs and other such premier institutes. Indian executives need to understand different business contexts and be able to identify opportunities, leading to better business decisions about global markets. Investing in soft skill development is equally important for Indian leaders to become global leaders.

It would be beneficial for emerging talent to undertake a few short term global assignments early in their career to gauge benefits of standardization with the need for local adaptation, managing virtual teams across geographies and time zones, dealing with contradictory thoughts and working through ambiguous situations. Indian leaders with the skills to deal with complexity and uncertainty can surely perform well in global environments, but they need to be flexible, agile and be strongly able to network with global colleagues and understand their perspectives without sacrificing ones value and create the vision and platforms for the next wave of leaders to contribute.

8. What are the shortcomings and strengths of Indian Leaders?

Emerging markets like India have become cradles for global leaders in various sectors. The recent leadership appointments in leading global technology companies like Microsoft and Google have bolstered the India leadership positioning. Indian leaders are demonstrated visionaries, at a time when companies are increasingly seen as merely profit seeking, an Indian leader has the right values so as to put in place processes that enhance the company’s competitiveness without hurting the society and environment it operates in. However an Indian leader needs to develop a broader global outlook and enhance social skills to succeed on a global stage.

9. What is your talent strategy?

We have a dedicated unit in Clariant – Senior Management Development which concentrates on talent management. SMD provides programs, tools and initiatives to support individual and organizational development in Clariant.

Identifying and developing the next generation of business leaders, early in their career, is a key focus of Clariant. In that context, tomorrow’s leaders need to be identified, developed and deployed.

We ensure development and retaining of talents; and creation of local, regional and global Talent Pools internally to ensure successful short-, mid- and long term succession planning.

10. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

When I joined Clariant in India in 2013, I took it upon myself to transform the Company, bringing about a paradigm shift with a sharp focus on hypergrowth.

11. What are the most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

In the early 2000, while strategizing the turnaround of the Asia business of DuPont, I leveraged the local cultural synergy to penetrate the market.

During the downturn of 2008, I was in the private equity investment sector.This is where I learned deeply about the ability to take calculated risks.

Also, in the downturn of 2008, I played a role in optimizing cash management and emphasized on the importance of having a global presence. This was the time when the industry realized the true potential of being truly global, not regionalized.

In 2013, when I joined Clariant, I had a much deeper understanding of corporate governance, and shareholder communication.

12. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

Firstly, do your job right, it determines your future course. Be selfless and patient, and evolve into a genuine team player. Make your department successful. Volunteer for community initiatives and cultural activities, that speak of your ability to excel all-round. Concentrate on personal grooming and towards being presentable and professional. Develop social skills. Always remember, attitude decides altitudes