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BW Businessworld

COVID Is An Opportunity To Reinvent: B. Thiagarajan, Blue Star

Even as the global pandemic has brought the economy down on its knees, B. Thiagarajan, Managing Director, Blue Star Ltd. believes these setbacks are opportunities

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There is no denying that COVID19 has brought the Indian and global economy down on its knees, but B. Thiagarajan, Managing Director, Blue Star Ltd. believes these setbacks are opportunities to reinvent ourselves.

“We are a 77-year-old company that was founded amid the second world war. We have always adapted to changing times in our journey. Since our company’s inception, we withstood challenges whether it was the emergency, opening up the Indian economy to foreign players via the liberalisation policy, national liquidity crisis, 9/11 (and) 26/11(terror attacks), 2008 (recession), so on and so forth. Therefore, we have learnt to be resilient and cope with the pains. This setback is also an opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” asserts Thiagarajan who is with the company since 1979.

The Blue Star MD was speaking at the ‘BW Dialogue on Leadership’ series, organised by BW Businessworld. The discussion was led by BW Businessworld & exchange4media Group’s Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Annurag Batra.

To Be A Leader

Thiagarajan advised that coping with challenges will lead to a new way of life, and where leadership is concerned, there are two sets of issues to deal with i.e. present and future. “You have to deal with the current crisis because you know there is revenue loss and profitability therefore and cash flow crisis. Once you cope with this, you should be looking at how you would be able to reinvent yourselves. More than ever, ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ will be an important factor. Also, ‘guts’ is required. Unless you have the courage and conviction, you don’t deserve to be a leader,” he explained.

When asked how he manages the operations, Thiagarajan replied, “I am little interested in reviewing the past performance, including the appraisal of the junior employees and instead look at what could be done better. That is my orientation. This pandemic brings a completely different dimension to the way we will progress. It has set back the world by three to four years and we will now be spending a lot of time in figuring out how we will conduct ourselves as an individual, community, business and as a nation in public places.”

When asked about the current situation and how his company is coping with it, he maintained, “It was very frustrating to begin with. I am at home for the first time for such a long duration in my whole career. But being a leader, we are being taught to quickly adapt to changes in life. Hope and faith in the future keep you going.”

Localise, Revive

As part of risk mitigation, Blue Star has been on a localisation drive for some time now.  However, localisation was only finished goods. For certain components such as compressors, there was still a dependence on markets like China.

“The component level localisation will take time due to the trade agreements. For this, we must reinvent ourselves. While it will take time to invest, but then again it can be worrisome for a market like India of investments go to other emerging markets such as Vietnam. This is the time to explore how we can enable the process to become self-dependent,” cautioned Thiagarajan.

Thiagarajan also said that shopping as an experience is not going to be taken away so easily. Although there will be a surge in online sales, but physical stores will co-exist. There may be changes such as appointed hours at the showroom and so on.

Talking about sales in the current and future scenario, he said, “From May 11 onwards, certain markets have opened. The last count is about 1,700 to 1,800 dealers out of 6,000. There is some silver lining in the dark clouds. There will be demand contraction in the short term. People are working from home and want to operate in a comfortable ambience. But the products will be redesigned with the air conditioners, air purifiers, and similar changes, given the concerns faced in COVID.”

To watch Full Video of B Thiagarajan of Blue Star at the #BWDialogue on Leadership- CLICK HERE


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