As one of the formidable names in the paper and pulp industry, Seshasayee Paper and Boards (SPB) has been instrumental in creating sustainable, leaner, cleaner, and greener revolutions as an arm of the SPB-ESVIN group. But the rationale behind the excellence of this 65-year-old pioneer lies in its core pillars - the team of expert personnel and leaders. As a part of such a team, Ganesh Balakrishna Bhadti stands out as a name to reckon with. With around 40 years of extensive experience in the industry, Ganesh is distinguished for his leadership ability not just to induce strong vision and values, but also to be simple, inspirational, unbiased, and ethical while fueling the same principles and legacy set by his antecedents.
Besides spearheading the operations of SPB, Ganesh is certified with a Green Belt in manufacturing excellence and is currently the President of the Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA), the Chairman of Paper Tech (CII), and the member of the Technical Subcommittee of the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA).
The following is an excerpt from his exclusive interview with Industry Outlook, in which he takes us through his past experiences and his approach to leading business.
How have your past educational and professional experiences equipped you to succeed in business?
With good academic record with a national merit scholarship and a rank holder at Karnataka University in Paper Technology, I started my career in the Ballarpur industry, where I spent 25 years under different unit heads with distinct qualities and that was my foundation. I was consistently awarded for my performance. During my service, I also completed MBA in Human resource management, and, I have attended many management development courses from reputed institutions, including IIM Ahmadabad and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
Further, I joined JK Paper in Rayagada unit, where I was trained in businesscritical processes while mentoring subordinates to develop individuals & building a good organization. I have also led two units of International Paper in India, which enabled me to learn about the Indian as well as international dimensions of the industry before joining SPB.
At SPB, I am fortunate enough to be nurtured under Chairman Sri.
N. Gopalaratnam & our MD Sri. K S Kasi Viswanathan and such other industry mavens, who taught me the intricate parts of driving the business, self-resilience, capability building in small steps with high impact. With this confidence, I started believing in simple living yet achieve high standards of performance, and sustainable and social economic operations.
What are the most critical challenges that you have faced in your journey?
I consider challenges as an integral part of life that has always existed and will continue to exist in the future. Challenges can keep us active and push us to move forward. For example, in the 1990s, we decided to implement ERP for the first time in the paper industry to integrate different sections, functions, and the production of voluminous data without disturbing the normal operation. However, we had to make a critical and strong decision to continue the application despite the havoc created by its last phase failure. Stopping the process would have set us back to ground zero. But our collective decision for business continuity not only made the ERP implementation a success but also gave us the strength to move ahead.
Accountability, learning, & a ‘can-do’ approach can help people adapt & make a difference
How have the challenges changed? What are your measures to scale the company up to the challenges?
With business definitions rapidly changing, challenges vary based on the situation and severity. Traditionally, business was considered mercenary, but today, the efficacy of business is mainly steered by the three Ps - planet, people, and profit, with emphasis on elements like government policies and the public, which we have integrated into SPB. Secondly, we have to make our businesses sustainable by utilizing the available resources judiciously while also preserving resources for the future generation to curb the increasing cost and quantities of raw input materials and energies. As leaders, the key is to use the right people for the right job at the right time. Thinking continuously about the company, we have to lead from the front and be an example for others through our standalone approach.
"As leaders, the key is to use the right people for the right job at the right time"
How have you been adapting to the developments happening in the industry as a whole?
Adopting global sustainable practices for business continuity, the circular economy, and implementation of green energy are future initiatives across segments, particularly the paper industry. My reading habits, best practices, and industry connections have equipped me to stay current. Additionally, my active role in IPPTA, CII, and IPMA and participation in several forums and seminars also add advantages in learning continuously about new ideas and technologies from the best and implementing the best Systems where ever possible in my organization. We seek to be the leaders in quality and customized products by tuning ourselves to customer demands, developing a talented workforce, and preparing ourselves to address business and social issues without hindering business and industry growth.
What advice would you provide to aspiring leaders in the industry?
I do not regard myself as a successful leader. But, I strongly believe that success succeeds success. Hence, I strive to motivate others through recognition of goodwill, the exchange of knowledge, and training and development opportunities. I would suggest accountability, learning, and a ‘can-do’ approach can help people adapt and make a difference. Always give credit where the credit is due and encourage transparency. Nothing can substitute disciplined and ethical practices. Most importantly, always love the industry we dedicate ourselves to.