Benetton India CEO, Sundeep K Chugh, is remarkably easy to chat with — friendly and full of positive energy. Chugh, who has done stints with LG and Adidas and been with Benetton since 2011, before elevation to the top job, says he strives to build positivity into the work culture. His take on:
The disruptors in his industry and dealing with them
A significant amount of disruption happened because of fast fashion. The consumer was definitely attracted when something different was offered every few weeks. Fast fashion also comes with aggressive pricing. But our thought process was clear — we would not go that way. We would continue to offer products that are long-lasting and stay a brand that works with sustainability in mind.
The other disruptor was online as a channel emerging very fast. We are now coming up with our own Benetton India portal. Yes, we took a bit of time with that, but we had to align it with our global Benetton.com and at the same time keep it relevant to India. Store concepts too have kept changing. But those are part and parcel of natural evolution. We are working on adding a bit more premiumness to our stores.
Digital transformation within the organisation
Digitalisation is sweeping our entire value chain, from sourcing to production to training to distribution and our marketing campaigns. We have introduced automation at all the points where there is scope. Digitalisation has helped us go a level up and drive efficiency. To give an example, earlier, our quality check team travelled to different vendors to check if the production was meeting specifications. Now we use iPads and technology to match specs. It has made a big difference in how we train our store staff too. Initially, training was man-to-man — now we are using different apps and, with the help of technology, preparing them for every possible situation they may face in the store.
Reskilling staff for the digital age
We are looking at it from an organisational level as well as a functional level. Reskilling cannot be done in two months but has to be done in different phases, and we are starting with wherever there is an immediate priority. By mid-2021, we should have a competent transformed organisation.
Slowdown impact, coping with it
We try not to get unduly swayed by what is happening around us. What we are doing at organisation level is to stay true to ourselves. Do a bit of instrospection. But on the whole, keep on doing good things with a strong belief..
Key habits that have helped in his leadership journey
I believe a lot in empowering my team. The most important aspect is to believe and trust your team — it has a cumulative impact that will lead to a great organisation. I personally work a lot on having a positive attitude. For me, it is important to create a work culture that is optimistic, positive and happy. But it requires a lot of work — you have to keep talking to your teams, need to be repetitive sometimes. I also ensure that I have skip-level meetings, and every fortnight or so have heart-to-heart sessions with 15 different employees. I go for an inclusive approach, to build confidence in people.
Managing social media presence
I am quite active on Instagram and Twitter. I am on Facebook with very limited people. My approach is to stay true to my personality on social media. Also, to always keep in mind that I represent my brand and my organisation and my views could impact both. I try to stay calm, natural.
Keeping stress at bay
I have been very active physically, always. My dad pushed me hard when I was eight to get into a half-hour exercise regime in the morning. The easiest thing was to run, which is what I started in Class 5. I have been a regular runner since Class 10 and can do 8-10 km at any time. Running helps me stay focused, positive and rejuvenated. Now I also play badminton in the mornings, cycle during weekends, and also go trekking. Physical exercise and spending time with family keep me stress-free.
As told to Chitra Narayanan
Source: The Hindu