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Ajay Kapur: A Pillar Of Strength

He has balanced profitability with a concern for the environment and helped the company set new sustainable development benchmarks

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Ajay Kapur, MD and CEO of Ambuja Cement, is truly a veteran of the industry he operates in. He brings a deep understanding of the workings of the business, which was acquired over the past 25 years while manning key positions at the company.  

Since starting out in 1993 as executive assistant to then MD and founder N.S. Sekhsaria, Kapur went on to be Marketing Head for West and South Region, National Head for Marketing and Commercial Services and later Business Head (West and South) and CEO, gaining useful insights into the business along the way.
Before joining Ambuja Cement, now a part of LafargeHolcim, Kapur worked with Citibank’s consumer banking business. An economics graduate from Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College, Kapur has a master’s in management and an Advanced Management Programme degree from Wharton B-school.

Kapur is credited with initiating several operational excellence programmes and evolving the company’s focus on sustainability and safety. He is co-chair of the Cement Sustainability Initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and is on the board of governors of the National Council for Cement and Building Materials. He is also chairman of CII’s Cement Industry Division.

Besides, Ambuja Cement is the first Indian cement manufacturer to have a captive port with three terminals along the west coast for facilitating timely, cost-effective and environmentally cleaner shipments of bulk cement to its customers. The company has its own fleet of ships and its subsidiaries include Dang Cement Industries, MGT Cements, Chemical Limes Mundwa and Dirk India.

Under Kapur’s charge, Ambuja Cement has set new sustainable development benchmarks, with the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) ranking the company at number seven — highest for an Indian company — in the construction material category for 2017.

The DJSI is a family of benchmarks that uses a best-in-class approach to select sustainability leaders from various industry sectors across the world, enabling investors to track the companies’ performance and integrate sustainability considerations into their portfolios

According to Kapur, the DISI ranking was a “moment of pride” for the company. “This is yet another step drawing us closer to achieving our vision as the most sustainable company in the industry,” he says, adding that the company will continue to effectively follow the true value approach — a triple bottom-line which encompasses the three Ps (profit, people and planet), creating greater value to all stakeholders.

Incorporated in 1981, the company was established as a joint venture between the public sector Gujarat Industrial Investment Corporation (GIIC) and Narottam Sekhsaria & Associates. On 19 May 1983, the company became a public limited entity. Subsequently, it was rechristened Gujarat Ambuja Cement and later Ambuja Cement.  

For the quarter ended 31 December 2017, the company posted an 88 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 338 crore on the back of better realisation and higher production. Revenue was up seven per cent at Rs 2,713 crore.

Kapur says the focus on value-added products and providing specific solution to address customer needs in the retail segment has helped the company improve profitability. “We would continue to focus on selling more premium products in key markets and bring down operational cost,” he added.

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ajay kapur magazine 26 may 2018 Most Valuable CEOs