Mahesh KanchanChief Executive Officer at Del Monte Foods India

Mahesh is a firm believer that innovative thought process, speed & agility in decision making, entrepreneurial spirit and pristine executions will make organisations win and stand out of the pack in today’s tough and competitive world.

Though he is a Sales and Marketing professional, he always wears a business hat, before a functional one. His passion is to bring in thought leadership to drive consistent, competitive, and profitable growths in consumer facing business’. Have demonstrated the same with turnaround of brand Kissan and robust growths on brands like Huggies, Knorr & Blue Band at Unilever. Have also displayed a start-up mindset by building strong organisations and brands from scratch at Hershey India & Carlsberg India.

Mahesh comes with more than 20 years of proven track record in various leadership roles across South Asia and bringing in meaningful transformations in big & respected organisations like Unilever, Carlsberg, Hershey, DHL Express, UB Group (McDowell & Co.), and Bayer.



1. What is the mandate given to you by the Board?

Drive Consistent, Competitive and Profitable growth

2. How much of that has been achieved?

It’s an ongoing exercise that needs to be achieved every year.


3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing? Both immediate and long term. And what steps you are taking to overcome?

Hyper-inflation in commodity & ocean freight costs – Mitigation Steps: Localization & simplification of supply chain inputs, especially raw materials.

4. How have the Pandemic/technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

Pandemic did impact OOH consumption and moved it in-home, which led to consumers adopting online grocery shopping. This is a big shift in grocery shopping and consumption habits.


5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw a balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

Our preference is to acquire or promote talent internally. If the same is missing, only then do we look outside. The idea is to enrich the roles of current employees and give them opportunities to do more.

6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

Future leaders are typically un-polished diamonds who need to be mined within the system. This needs constant one-on-one engagement and interaction across people in the organization and focus should be placed on giving opportunities to young and lower-level resources, to take up challenging projects. We should also empower them to take on end-to-end responsibility in their area or domain.


7. Every crisis is a learning opportunity, what lessons have you picked up from Covid?

Think of a glass as half full and not half empty. Opportunities arise even out of challenging situations. In the case of Covid, e-commerce / online grocery and in-home consumption spikes came in as big opportunities.

8. 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?

Constant, Relevant and Winning Innovation is a mindset that needs to run through the organization. Processes like Innovation Process Management (IPM) and Ideas Clinics help in driving blue sky thinking and bringing in some big bold ideas onto the stage.


9. How do you define and practice leadership?

Leadership is like walking or swimming or driving a car. Once you are on the leadership treadmill, you cannot get off it. Once you learn it, it’s like doing or practicing it every day.

10. We see many Indian leaders on the global stage. How can more Indian leaders become Global Leaders?

Indian Leaders bring in a lot of thought leadership to the table and have been exposed to some of the most challenging business environments, which helps in bringing the best out of them.


11. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

Learning from failures and not being afraid to fail big!
Spending time with some of the best & most inspiring leaders while at Unilever – This is the best learning place that one can ever get.

12. What message would you like to share with young professionals?

Focus on Brilliant Basics. There is no substitute for hard work and dedication.