Bobby JosephCountry Leader, India Subcontinent of GROHE India Pvt Ltd + LIXIL India Pvt Ltd.
Bobby Joseph is currently at the helm of LIXIL Water Technology’s operations in India and Subcontinent. In this current role he leads all business endeavours in the India Sub continent, a market poised as LIXIL’s future growth engine. As the head of the India business, he shoulders the responsibility of spearheading, nurturing, and expediting LIXIL’s water technology enterprise with a portfolio of leading brands such as American
Standard, GROHE and INAX.
Since joining LIXIL in 2018, Bobby Joseph has played a pivotal role in establishing and laying the foundation for the India business by focusing on Channel Partner Expansion, Partnerships, Customer Centric approach towards business stakeholders including Architects, Designers & Partners. His expertise and contributions have been instrumental in driving LIXIL India’s digital transformation through innovative initiatives such as LIXIL Digital Store, LIXIL Mentorship Program for budding Architects, LIXIL Entrepreneur Program for Plumbers to name a few. He is also responsible for collaborating with the Asia Pacific CEO, providing valuable support in driving strategic initiatives across the entirety of the country.
With three decades of experience across various industries, Bobby has held senior management positions in multinational organizations including Plantronics, Nokia, Wipro, Walt Disney and Berger Paints. Throughout his career, Bobby has demonstrated expertise in leading and managing diverse teams, executing strategic initiatives, and fostering innovation to achieve organizational objectives.
He is passionate about fitness, cycling and keep abreast with technology.
He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MMS) from Narsee Monjee Institute Management Studies, Mumbai and Economics; and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Sacred Heart, Cochin.
ORGANIZATION STRATEGY/ KEY CHALLENGES
1. What is the mandate given to you by the Board?
In my role as a Country Leader, my primary mandate was to drive business growth, expand our networks, improve profitability, strengthen employee and customer engagement, and grow market share among international sanitaryware brands.
I was entrusted with the responsibility of driving business growth by implementing strategic initiatives and exploring new avenues for expansion. This involved expanding our retail, distribution, and project networks to strengthen our market presence. Like any business, a significant focus was placed on enhancing profitability through sustainable growth and improving the overall financial health of the organization.
Another crucial aspect of my mandate was fostering strong relationships with both employees and customers. Creating a positive and engaging work environment for our employees, while also ensuring exceptional customer experiences was quintessential to my job.
Lastly, I was tasked with strengthening our organization’s position within the international sanitaryware market. Through a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape, I worked towards increasing our market share among renowned international brands.
2. How much of that has been achieved?
I am happy to share that we have not only over delivered to what we set out in the first three years since 2019, but also been able to put into place an aggressive plan of crossing the INR 1000 Cr mark by 2025.
DOMAIN SECTOR (TO CAPTURE CURRENT SECTORAL TRENDS DEVELOPMENTS CHALLENGES)
3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing? Both immediate and long term. And what steps you are taking to overcome?
I think the most significant challenges we have faced post-Covid is the disruption in our supply chain, which has had the biggest impact on our operations. In response to this challenge, we have taken proactive measures to address the issue. One such step has been improving our product mix by emphasizing on domestic production. I am happy to share that we have also established a cistern assembly within the country to further mitigate supply chain disruptions and ensure timely delivery of our products.
Another crucial aspect that we have focused on is employee retention. Recognizing the value of our talented workforce, we have allocated increased resources to enhance their skills and capabilities through training and reskilling initiatives. To acknowledge and reward high performers, we have introduced the ACHIEVERS CLUB, which provides exclusive benefits such as specialized training and development programs, accelerated career progression opportunities, and additional incentives beyond their regular compensation.
By prioritizing employee development, creating avenues for growth, and implementing retention-based incentives, we aim to foster a motivated and loyal workforce. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and its subsequent impact on the supply chain and employee retention, we remain committed to overcoming these obstacles and driving the continued success of our organization.
4. How have the Pandemic/technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?
Similar to many other businesses, we also experienced the impact of supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. The B2B sector, in particular, was significantly affected as laborers relocated to their hometowns, resulting in delays in their return and affecting our operations. However, we adapted to the situation by shifting our focus towards expanding our retail and distribution network, which proved to be a fruitful strategy, leading to positive growth for our organization.
We saw the pandemic period as an opportunity to invest in technology and explore innovative approaches to conducting business. Recognizing the importance of digital transformation, we made substantial investments in upgrading our technological infrastructure and embraced new methods to streamline our operations. By leveraging technology, we aimed to enhance efficiency, improve customer experiences, and ensure resilience in the face of future challenges.
5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw a balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?
At LIXIL, our employees are our most precious assets. We have a multifaceted talent acquisition strategy that enables us to meet the demands of a competitive market, drive innovation, and position ourselves as a forward-thinking organization.
We do recognize the limitations of the existing talent pool and to address this challenge, we have adopted a strategic approach to hiring, placing a particular emphasis on bringing in professionals from outside our industry at various levels, especially in leadership positions. This deliberate hiring strategy introduces fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and diverse experiences that contribute to the growth and evolution of our organization.
At the middle level, we continue to leverage lateral hiring from complementary industries. This approach enables us to tap into a wider pool of qualified candidates who possess relevant skills and knowledge, allowing us to adapt quickly and effectively to the dynamic market landscape.
It is also important to nurture and harness the talent within our organization, by providing opportunities for career growth and development to deserving individuals. We prioritize internal promotions through a robust internal job posting (IJP) process. By encouraging internal promotions, we not only recognize the potential and capabilities of our existing employees but also foster a culture of loyalty and motivation.
By combining these approaches, we strive to build a talented workforce that brings together a mix of fresh perspectives, industry expertise, and internal growth.
6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?
We have always prioritized enhancing employee engagement across the entire organization. This involves close collaboration between the leadership team and the Human Resources department to identify high-potential employees from diverse functions within the company. Using internal evaluation tools, we review performance and provide feedback, nurturing collaboration through cross-functional projects. This investment in our diverse workforce aims to build a high-performing team and cultivate future leaders, ensuring long-term growth and success.
SHORT/MEDIUM TERM OUTLOOK & STEPS TAKEN
7. Every crisis is a learning opportunity; what lessons have you picked up from Covid?
Undoubtedly, every crisis presents valuable learning opportunities, prompting organizations to become more agile in their operations. While our transformation journey had already commenced prior to the onset of the pandemic, it rapidly accelerated during these challenging years.
We firmly recognize that our employees constitute our most valuable asset and serve as the pillars of our organization. Consequently, safeguarding and nurturing their well-being has always been a paramount priority for us, a commitment that gained even greater significance throughout the pandemic. Notably, we invested considerable resources into training and re-skilling our teams, empowering them with the necessary competencies to navigate evolving demands successfully.
A guiding principle from one of my mentors resonates deeply with our approach – during prosperous times, it is crucial to avoid excessive recruitment to mitigate the need for downsizing during downturns. I am delighted to share that adhering to this principle enabled us to retain our entire workforce throughout this challenging phase. We also displayed our appreciation for their unwavering dedication by implementing a 100% bonus payout, coupled with an additional Covid Allowance.
I firmly believe that our commendable performance is intrinsically linked to the unwavering support provided by our teams as the markets gradually improved. Their resilience and commitment have been instrumental in driving our success, and we remain committed to their ongoing engagement and well-being.
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?
LIXIL, as an organization, embraces a cultural framework built upon three core behaviors. One of these key behaviors is the promotion of “Experiment and Learn,” which is ingrained within all our colleagues worldwide.
We actively collaborate with teams to foster an environment that encourages the generation of innovative ideas. These ideas are not limited to specific functions but are designed to enhance agility and foster collaboration across the organization.
9. How do you define and practice leadership?
When it comes to defining leadership, I believe it entails actively cultivating the necessary skills, qualities, and behaviors to effectively guide and inspire others towards a shared objective. In my view, several critical aspects contribute to effective leadership:
Firstly, it is crucial to clearly define a compelling vision and purpose, and most importantly, communicate it clearly to the team. This ensures everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal.
Secondly, increasing one’s level of emotional intelligence is essential for effective leadership. This involves understanding and empathizing with the emotions and needs of team members, fostering positive relationships, and effectively managing conflicts.
The ability to make quick, strategic decisions is another key aspect of leadership. Leaders should possess the capability to analyze complex situations, weigh options, and make informed choices that drive progress and achieve desired outcomes.
Building and empowering teams is vital for effective leadership. This entails creating an environment where individuals feel valued, motivated, and supported to unleash their full potential. Leading by example and setting high standards is crucial in inspiring and influencing others.
Adaptability and resilience are essential qualities for leaders. The ability to navigate through change, embrace new challenges, and bounce back from setbacks is vital for driving success in dynamic and uncertain environments.
Lastly, leaders must be committed to continuous learning. This involves seeking opportunities to enhance knowledge, acquire new skills, and stay abreast of industry trends and developments.
10. We see many Indian leaders on the global stage. How can more Indian leaders become Global Leaders?
India is at a pivotal phase of economic growth, and given the abundance of young talent within the country, we anticipate this progress to accelerate rapidly. To facilitate the development of these emerging leaders and position them on a global platform, it is imperative to provide them with enhanced exposure and discourage hasty organizational shifts. A strong commitment to continuous learning will undoubtedly contribute to their growth and success, enabling them to make significant contributions on the global stage.
To answer the 2nd question, firstly a big shout out to the Indian Leaders out there to support their local counterparts here. Secondly, I think we are already in the right direction of being more experimentative, flexible, and open to the VUCA world. One key aspect to remember would be to ensure a balance between what we stand for as Indians and yet be Global! This is a beautiful blend and will continue to inspire young leaders!
11. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you learned from and/or that got you where you are today
Throughout my life both professional and personal, I have encountered several moments which have guided me to be the person I am today. These moments have provided valuable lessons and insights, helping me grow both professionally and personally. Here, I will share three significant milestones that have played a crucial role in my development and have had a lasting impact on my career trajectory.
In 1994, while employed as sales personnel at Berger Paint, I had the opportunity to visit Dwarka, a small town in Gujarat. I found it intriguing that there was only one paint shop in Dwarka, and it exclusively sold Asian Paints. This experience instilled in me the significance of network expansion, highlighting its potential for success. Subsequently, in 1995, during my tenure as a Product Manager at Wipro Lighting, I was entrusted with the additional responsibility of establishing a distribution network for lighting products through Wipro Consumer Product. This role provided me with valuable hands-on experience in executing network expansion strategies.
In 1998, my wife and I became proud parents. However, within six months, our child was diagnosed with autism. Today, we proudly refer to ourselves as parents of a gifted child. Witnessing his growth has taught me invaluable lessons in humility, empathy, and the profound joy of giving, while unveiling the true beauty of life.
Having worked for Fortune 100 companies such as Walt Disney and Nokia, I decided to take a leap in 2002 by joining a comparatively smaller US-listed company called Plantronics (now part of HP). This transition allowed me to develop essential skills in building a business from scratch, expanding into new geographies, including India and the Middle East, managing teams, and ultimately becoming a more proficient manager.
12. What message would you like to share with young professionals?
The present generation of young individuals not only have better exposure but are also more intelligence to use this information and opportunity to their advantage. Therefore, my primary message to them would be to-
Devote yourself wholeheartedly to your pursuits, as there are no quick fixes on the path to achieving great heights. Just as organizations establish key performance indicators (KPIs), it is crucial for you to set personal KPIs and demonstrate an unwavering thirst for continual growth and learning.
Embrace calculated risks without allowing the fear of failure to hold you back, as it is through setbacks that we garner the most valuable lessons and experience profound personal growth.
Seek out mentors who can provide guidance and support throughout your journey. Additionally, surround yourself with friends who are supportive and share your aspirations and values, as they can greatly contribute to your development and overall success.