When I joined Vedanta’s aluminium plant over a decade back, it was with the dream to work in one of the greatest aluminium smelters on the planet. Over the three decades of my experience in the Indian manufacturing industry, has allowed me to witness the transformation and evolution of the Aluminium industry into becoming India’s fastest growing metal and with its multiple applications across sectors being well poised to drive India towards becoming a self-reliant nation.
The clarion call of an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat from our Hon’ble Prime Minister is seeing Indians working on a war footing to fulfill this vision. The fortuitous offshoot of this has seen the creation of millions of mini entrepreneurs looking to shape their own destiny and contribute to India’s future.
Today the biggest change for industries has been that agility and resilience have become more imperative than ever before. The only organizations and societies that can survive and thrive are the ones that can seize challenges and threats and turn them into opportunities for unprecedented growth. For this, organizations as well as societies, need to constantly strive to be future-ready. Change is no more a single cataclysmic event, but a regular and all-pervasive feature. And the past year presented unique challenges and opportunities for companies who were agile.
Aluminium is a metal of strategic importance to the country and a vital raw material for key industries like electrical distribution, transportation, aerospace, defense, building & construction etc. It is a continuous operation function, meaning, our smelters must run 365x24x7. Since we are one of the country’s largest producers of aluminium we challenged ourselves to ensure that the wheels of manufacturing kept running during the pandemic with minimum resources and all precautions so that the country does not have to suffer. We dynamically changed our product mix to cater to the changing customer needs and to the export market through our global customers. The supply chain saw severe manpower and demand crunch across ports and shipping lines so we pivoted our sourcing strategy to procure from new suppliers, who had rapidly worked out how they could ensure raw materials reached us. To monitor supply chain disruptions and pilferages, we deployed the Digital Logistics Control Tower to remotely monitor the raw material logistics from port or mine to plant and plan operations accordingly.
There are two big learnings in my professional career, that have defined me. First, I have always been curious to try out new uncharted paths. I have always endeavored to be open to innovating and reimagining existing ways of working, I am forever curious and try to learn from what did not work out, improve upon it and try something new yet again. Technology is such a great equalizer and force-multiplier, that it is vital to constantly be willing adopt next practices, and not just best practices, as a leader, my constant endeavor is to percolate this thought process throughout our diverse teams, so that it becomes an intrinsic part of the organizational culture. Second, the success of any leader depends on how many leaders they in turn create. A people-first approach is hence vital. This approach has resulted in BALCO having empowered teams with robust people-practices, customer-centricity and an unrelenting focus on quality while taking our communities along as we progress.
Working for the welfare of our communities has always been at the core of our operations at BALCO. With the outbreak of the pandemic, BALCO quickly pivoted its community development programs to focus efforts on the health and safety of the resident communities around our plant. Indian Aluminium Industry has generated over 8 lakh jobs directly & in-directly and developed over 4000 SMEs in downstream sector. Aluminium industry has a strong output and employment multiplier effect (backward and forward linkages) on other key sectors. It has forward linkages with aviation, defense, auto, electricity, construction, packaging etc., and backward linkages with mining, refining, chemical industry, power, machinery.