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Arvind Shekhawat

Arvind Shekhawat: Colours to Connections

Empowering Growth Through Industry-transcending Expertise!

To have truly exceptional results, you don’t need exceptional people; you just need people to be encouraged to do exceptional things. Every person is capable of accomplishing incredible things when they believe in the vision and mission of their organization’s leader or role model, a belief deeply held by Arvind.

‘I believe that people are the most essential asset in any organization,’ adding that his path through paints with Berger and Nerolac and telecom companies like Hutch and Vodafone has rewarded him with significant talents and insights across industries.

As a proficient business leader with over 30 years of experience in leading telecom and consumer durable businesses, Arvind currently serves as the Group Chief Executive Officer of Kansai Plascon East Africa. His comprehensive exposure to leadership positions in sectors such as painting and telecommunications further developed his problem-solving and strategic thinking abilities, portraying him as a major force in the economic world.

With a history of swiftly transforming business operations, he is acknowledged for his ability to use consumer insights to generate inventiveness and growth. As a storyteller with a love for marketing and a talent for disruptive methods, he has played an important role in boosting growth in exceedingly challenging markets.

Arvind’s belief in the power of engagement and people involvement supports his approach to business, making him a go-to person for sales and distribution challenges. His role requires him to use his significant experience to propel the company to new heights by streamlining product lines, optimizing distribution procedures, and improving customer experiences.

Let us explore his journey.

A Global Leader in Coatings Innovation

Kansai Paint, based in Osaka, Japan, started back in 1918 and has grown to become a major player in the global paint industry. They’re known for making all kinds of paints, from decorative to industrial, protective, and automotive, and they have factories in 43 locations around the world. What sets Kansai Paint apart is its strong focus on research and development. This helps them create top-notch products and services that stand out on the international stage.

In 2012, Kansai Paint expanded its reach by acquiring Plascon in South Africa, leading to the creation of Kansai Plascon. The company further extended its presence in East Africa in 2016 followed by the acquisition of local paint businesses in 2017. Grounded in core values, Kansai Plascon is dedicated to enhancing customer lives through continuous innovation in product design.

Starting from humble beginnings, it has blossomed into a dominant force in the African market, playing a crucial role in enhancing the decorative product range of Kansai Paint, a Top 10 Global Paint Company.

Market Growth and Transformation in Various Regions

In central India, Kansai Nerolac Paints experienced a significant increase in market share within just 18 months, attributed to swift in-market executions and coordinated efforts by a united team. Similarly, at Vodafone, market leadership was attained by deeply comprehending customer requirements and effectively implementing strategies down to the final stage.

Meanwhile, Kansai Plascon has East Africa transitioned from a company undergoing fluctuations to stability and profitability.

Consumer Durable Sector

Believing strongly in the power of using consumer insights to make strategic decisions in the technology and consumer durable sectors, he points out that understanding these insights is crucial to their strategic approach.

Through methods like market research, data analytics, and direct customer feedback, they can grasp a deep understanding of consumer behavior and preferences. This understanding helps them direct market changes effectively, align their strategies with emerging trends and unmet needs, and ensure that their products, distribution channels, and customer experiences meet the needs of their audience in East Africa. His focus on promoting innovation and adaptability shows their dedication to keeping ahead in a constantly changing business environment.

Strategic Approach to Complex Challenges

Being a key member of a national strategic think tank, Arvind approaches complex challenges with a blend of analytical rigor, visionary thinking, and collaborative leadership. He prioritizes gathering diverse perspectives and expertise, cultivating open dialogue and knowledge exchange within and outside the think tank to gain a comprehensive understanding of challenges from various angles.

He believes in deconstructing complex issues into manageable components, employing structured problem-solving methods to explore innovative solutions and challenge conventional thinking, thereby uncovering new possibilities.

He promotes experimentation, embraces learning from failures, and advocates making necessary adjustments to remain adaptable to evolving circumstances. Lastly, Arvind illustrates a holistic approach to strategic planning, aligning strategies with national goals and values to ensure coherence and sustainability in addressing complex challenges.

Resolving Sales and Distribution Challenges Effectively

In addressing sales and distribution challenges, Arvind explains the implementation of top-tier service standards for distributors and the establishment of transparent accounting procedures. This strategic move has led to heightened attention from the team towards dealer service, enhancing the overall product offering, and expanding the distribution network.

By setting specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each function, he provides support through interactive sessions and maintains an open-door policy. This collaborative approach stimulates accountability within the team, ensuring the achievement of set KPIs and driving success in sales and distribution operations.

Business Operations for Leadership Success

“People are the most important asset in any business,” asserts Arvind. This principle has been particularly evident in their operations across East Africa. Teams situated in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Burundi have played a pivotal role in transitioning from local enterprises to a cohesive group entity with a more corporate ethos. The team members’ dedication to engaging customers, adapting to leadership changes, embodying the brand, and consistently achieving objectives underscores their exceptional character.

Within the organization, management teams comprising diverse departments and genders convene monthly to evaluate performance and address key focus areas. By actively involving leaders from each department, a culture of ownership, accountability, and transparency is nurtured.

He affirms a personal philosophy of “grow our own timber,” emphasizing the simultaneous development of both the person and company hand-in-hand. Recognition within the organization extends beyond performance metrics to encompass cultural and gender diversity. “For example, we celebrate successes through reward and recognition, focusing on the strengths of our employees,” affirms Arvind.

Channel Management Strategy

Focusing on paint and hardware vendors together with painters, Arvind’s channel management approach proved effective in East Africa. Kansai Plascon was able to expand its client base, boost sales, and provide superior value by establishing trusting partnerships with authorized dealers. This allowed it to offer a greater variety of colours using automatic tinting machines and straightforward product accessibility.

Over the last two years, this cooperative approach has brought in the recruitment of over 800 additional dealers, demonstrating the significant commercial growth that can be attained through channel management.

Incorporating Storytelling into Leadership

In his approach to leadership, Arvind often integrates storytelling as a powerful tool to convey corporate values, draw on collective experiences, and emphasize key learnings. By weaving personal anecdotes from his past, whether professional or personal, he aims to provide a more relatable and engaging context for his team.

Stories, he believes, are more memorable and captivating than traditional lectures on policies or positions, cultivating a deeper connection with his audience. Through storytelling, he seeks to stimulate engagement, strengthen team cohesion, and cultivate a shared sense of values among his team members.

Agility in Challenger Markets

Being a dedicated marketer, one must drive ingenuity and disruption in challenger markets to fuel growth for the organization. To achieve this, understanding uncertain market needs is crucial, followed by the ability to adapt business strategies swiftly. This approach ensures seizing opportunities rather than missing them, as witnessed by professionals like Arvind. Active engagement with sales and marketing teams, direct communication with stakeholders, and staying attuned to market dynamics provide invaluable insights for making informed decisions and staying ahead in competitive environments.

Kansai Plascon exhibits varying market positions across the countries in which it operates. While holding the top spot in Uganda, it faces challenges in Tanzania and Kenya. The company tailors its focus, approach, and marketing tactics to each country, considering not only market positions but also the unique nuances of each country.

Innovations like Plascon Anti-Mosquito Paint, the painters’ instant reward program, unique black packaging, high-quality plastic packaging, exclusive dealer networks, and tinting machines have made significant impacts in the markets. These innovations have not only spurred expansion but additionally encouraged competitors to adapt. Kansai Plascon is dedicated to continually improving its in-market strategies and speed to market in all aspects, securing a strong competitive advantage within the industry.

Strategies for Success in Leadership Roles

In leadership roles within the telecommunications and consumer durable sectors, a set of key principles and strategies are crucial for maintaining a successful track record. The acronym SIMPLE, which stands for Specific, Implementable, Measurable, Profitable, Last Mile Distribution, and Ethics, serves as a guiding framework for effective leadership in these industries.

  • Specific: Emphasizing clarity and precision in all aspects of the business, encouraging individuals to be specific in defining objectives and strategies.
  • Implementable: Ensuring that tasks and initiatives are practical and executable within each function, promoting effective implementation of plans.
  • Measurable: Setting clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and parameters to track progress and manage performance against defined targets.
  • Profitable: Focusing on profitability beyond just sales growth, by scrutinizing expenses, functions, and processes to enhance overall business profitability.
  • Last Mile Distribution: Prioritizing brand visibility and ensuring products are available in the right locations to maximize reach and accessibility.
  • Ethics: Upholding ethical standards and company values, maintaining professionalism, and embodying the core values of the organization.

By adhering to these principles and strategies, leaders can effectively manage the complexities of the telecommunications and consumer durable sectors, leading to compelling success and sustainable growth within their organizations.

Recognition of Excellence

Kansai Plascon prides itself on the quality of products and services it offers customers. The company has been honored with several prestigious awards over the years, including the East Africa Building & Construction Award for Outstanding Paint Brand, the East Africa Brand Quality Awards for Leading Paint Manufacturer and Corporate Social Responsibility Practices, and the Consumer Choice Award. These accolades reflect its commitment to excellence and innovation in the paint industry.