#BuildingTomorrow: Future of Chemical Industry in India, an HR perspective

By Aditya Mishra | June 6, 2020

India is the 6th largest producer of chemicals, 14th largest exporter in the world. The industry is fast-growing, slated to be USD 300B by 2025. Exports for the sector has been growing at 15-20% CAGR for the last three years. India particularly does well in production of dyestuff for the textile industry worldwide.

Over the last three decades, manufacturing action in chemicals has shifted from Europe to China and India. The track record of Indian industry in conforming to standards for environment, health, safety and quality has been largely spotless. As COVID-19 pandemic has struck, many things in the world are getting rebooted. The chemical industry in India has the opportunity of evolving into a force stronger than ever before. How can HR partner with the business leaders in this journey?

Growth mindset

100% FDI is allowed in this sector and hence, the domestic players, particularly the small and medium ones need to prepare themselves to deal with the competition from the older players with longer and wider experience. Their product portfolio is likely to be wider or deeper; their R&D could be stronger; financial strength could provide them a longer runway before they take-off. However, these challenges can never be daunting if we are determined to succeed.

Knowledge of the local conditions such as talent, consumers, supply chain and regulations work favourably for the domestic players. There are opportunities to collaborate, strike partnerships and learn best practices from one another within the sector. Since the headroom for growth is huge, it is a great opportunity for every business leader in the sector to scale new peaks by putting the right strategies to work. HR has to understand this mindset and work out the plans of injecting the same across the organisation.

Staying relevant

The playground is global and hence, the standard of the game has to be world-class if anyone aspires to win the game and stay relevant in the tournament. In the days ahead, businesses have to grow to leverage economies of scale, deploy the latest in technology to improve productivity, invest in products and supply chain which have a foreseeable future and above all, mobilise the financial resources and the human capital needed for this growth. This is a list of just four imperatives, but execution is a herculean effort and done well, separates the men from the boys.

As a natural consequence, HR has to drive cost efficiencies and process improvements in the HR processes of talent acquisition, performance management, talent engagement and development. These apart, HR has to partner with business in understanding the context, crafting the priorities, communicating the same within the company and most importantly, using those in the HR processes of the organisation.

Putting them all at work

The challenges ahead are immense and so are opportunities. We need to make the right choices about the products, the investments and the supply chain; and hands of steel for execution of those ideas. Success lies in recruiting the right people, aligning the workforce on the chosen priorities, involving the leaders in defining the key performance indicators and administering them. The rewards and recognition practices have to be aligned with those performance indicators.

Systems and processes have to be laden with technology so that a significant part of the value chain is delivered by human prowess and the value generated out of routine transactions are delivered by automation that compliments the human effort. In summary, we need all the three wheels to run in sync: keeping up the growth mindset, making the right choices around product, technology, supply chain and the investments; and finally, gritty execution!

Ref: https://www.investindia.gov.in/sector/chemicals

Ref: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/chemicals/our-insights/indias-chemical-industry-unleashing-the-next-wave-of-growth