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Sales and marketing has become less constrained post-COVID-19: Harssha Shetty, CMO, Hindustan Zinc Limited

Shetty talks about the company’s growth playbook and how they converted this adversity into an opportunity.

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Harssha Shetty

It may be quotidian that we speak to marketing aficionados from around the country. However, it is not usual that we interact with marketers associated with trades less talked about in the public. Here’s one such marketing maestro- Harssha Shetty, Chief Marketing Officer, Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL).

Known to be an agile and energetic thought leader, with a strong growth mindset and excellent commercial acumen, Harssha has been associated with Vedanta and the metal and minerals industry for the past 17 years. Built on giving the highest priority to safety of the people and conservation of scarce natural resources through technology and innovation, Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) has emerged as India’s largest and world’s second largest zinc-lead miner. 

Here are excerpts from my confab with Shetty, about the company’s growth playbook and how they converted this adversity into an opportunity:

Q1. What have been HZL’s efforts in making India a self-reliant nation by boosting the domestic steel and manufacturing sectors?

At Hindustan Zinc Limited, we have always believed that steel and Zinc sectors can completely cater the Indian demand whether it is galvanized steel required in railways, automotive or construction and Infrastructure sector. HZL continues to work closely with industry experts towards sustainable development and carries extension research in order to develop the market and provide best solution to make sure that the sector becomes self-reliant in the near future. In this vein, Hindustan Zinc Limited along with International Zinc Association has been working together to sensitise industry stakeholders to utilize more and more steel and other commodities like zinc that is produced in India.

We have also been educating them about various sustainable models including adaptation of Galvanized steel (zinc coated) that will not only help Indian players control the infrastructure losses caused due to corrosion but will also help save significant percentage of the amount that is incurred in the GDP

Q2. What are the possible policy reforms that will make it truly Aatmanirbhar?

In terms of policy reforms, the Government has taken remarkable steps by announcing the Aatmanirbhar stimulus package to reboot the MSME sector. This will boost the MSMEs – which provide 11 crore jobs and amount to 30% of our GDP – to upgrade at a time when the World is increasingly looking at India as a compelling sourcing base in the Global supply Chain.

A level playing field for the Indian producers when it comes to battling the Imports into India will be the right way to nurture the industry and to make India a reliable export base in the global value chain India.

India is blessed with abundant natural resources. Reforms could be aimed to facilitate asset creation to tap our natural resources responsibly. A teeming downstream sector will multiply around these resource champions and bring more Jobs and GDP. The impact of the multiplier effect can be instrumental for the 5 Trillion dollar economy vision.

Q3. With manufacturing plants reopening post lockdown, the supply chains also resume duty. However, this has been a tough period but also a learning curve. Any shift you have observed in the recent past?

The industry is getting more efficient, emphasis on safety has increased, many customers have started creating an export market for themselves to de-risk their sales and in the process are becoming more competent in terms of Quality, processes and market intelligence

In terms of the demand, the market is still to return pre-COVID-19, infrastructure segment is back with the old projects resuming and new projects introduced by government. Automobile segment is yet to take off.

Q4. How have some of the constraints because of the pandemic impacted your marketing?

It may sound counter intuitive, but actually sales and marketing has now become less constrained post-COVID-19. It is “marketers sans frontiers”. Travel and in-person meetings were considered necessary for any important discussion. Now on a virtual meeting, companies are closing multi-million dollar contracts. We are able to meet more customers, get into a customer’s office thousands of miles away and do business as usual.

Our senior management is able to connect more with the customers- What used to take a days from the base is now an hour’s virtual meeting.

Q5. What are the expectations from the marketing team overall with these concerns?

Sales and Marketing executives are getting more time to strategise, get market insights and network virtually. We are able to tap into Global experts seamlessly to offer technical services to our customers. We were quick to respond to this opportunity and we launched Techniki, A technical webinar series to facilitate technology upgradation for our customers with inputs from international subject matter experts, policy makers and thought leaders to fulfil our PM’s vision of becoming Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Over 2,000 customers have been benefited by this initiative which otherwise would have been a logistics nightmare in getting everyone to a venue.

We took the Contactless buying trend seriously and Launched EVOLVE- world’s first online store for non-ferrous metals by a producer. Now customers can order and get their metal delivered to their doorsteps in ‘3 clicks’ on real-time prices.