India’s Transformational Leader 2019: Anshu Budhraja, CEO, Amway India
At Amway, we are empowering the society, especially women by offering them an opportunity to own and operate their own business by selling distinctive and high-quality nutrition, beauty, personal care and home/ durable products.
Years of working in the industry, your contribution reflects versatility and volubility. What has influenced your decision-making process at various stages?
I follow a participative leadership approach where my role is to make the purpose clear to the team and facilitate decision-making, supporting an agile organization and the overall organization goals. My experience has taught me that one should empower their team and trust the team’s decisions for which they have the expertise and authority. This helps in not only making the process of decision-making faster, but also instills a strong sense of responsibility and ownership within the team. Setting up processes for decisions at different levels has helped me in improving the decision-making abilities of the team.
I believe in communicating the details of significant decisions directly to the team and providing the basic reasoning behind each decision. This helps in better comprehension of the decision, building transparency across levels, getting the team support and buy-in and helping them to make better future decisions. When it comes to critical decision-making, I believe in a balance between an analytical and an intuitive decision-making style.
A project or an accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
I have spearheaded the organization growth in the country by challenging conventions and leading Amway India through transformations. Besides leading the organization through tough regulatory challenges due to lack of clear laws on direct selling industry, I decided to launch a slew of new initiatives to spur growth in India. Some of these are driving growth through relevant innovations, building emotional connect with consumers, enhancing direct sellers’ productivity and riding the digital wave to engage direct sellers, as well as consumers.
After addressing internal & external irregularities and bringing the focus back to the business, Amway India has successfully established itself among the top seven markets for Amway globally.
I treated the regulatory environment not as an obstacle but as a challenge and encouraged employees also to find ways to overcome it rather than getting overwhelmed by it. I spearheaded the reputation building strategy of Amway India by using my understanding and insights of the Indian regulatory environment not only for the company but also for the Direct Selling (DS) industry in India.
How do you integrate corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility as a part of your business strategies?
At Amway, our CSR initiatives are based on the belief that social responsibility is much more than the incurrence of a cost or a resource or a charitable/ philanthropic act of social benefit. It is an opportunity to bring in social innovation and change. This belief is articulated in our vision of helping people live better lives. When it comes to commitment to corporate citizenship, we make a serious and concentrated effort to reach out and help people improve their lives. At Amway, our aim is to enable healthier and happier lives, while growing the business. The focus areas are those where the business intersects most closely with the society and where the company can use its expertise to create maximum impact. These include:
- Health – to address the issue of childhood malnutrition in India with a focus on children below the age of 5 years
- Education – to provide avenues of education to the less-privileged sections of society, with a focus on visually impaired individuals and children
- Livelihood enhancement – to promote self-employment among women and to create awareness on affordable health and hygiene practices.
- Improve communities – to improve ground water level and to provide quality healthcare to the underprivileged individuals around the manufacturing facility
Our CSR efforts have been recognized at various platforms including the ‘CSR Leadership Summit & Award’ in the category of ‘Promoting Employment for Specially-abled’.
What has been your driving force or philosophy in life?
I believe that ‘Future is built from the future. Future is not built from the past.’ Customer experiences, digital innovations and youth are trending and are the only growth drivers across industries and organizations. I am a strong believer of a customer-first approach and have always stayed focused on building relationships with our direct sellers, customers, and employees along with the society that we operate in. This approach has been a guiding factor and has enabled me to carve winning strategies that helped in putting us on strong growth trajectory, to take decisions and synergize the organization’s efforts towards creating best-in-class customer service. I have managed to achieve remarkable results through teamwork, involving team members in decision making, helping them to grow and creating a caring organization. Amway is built on the foundation of providing entrepreneurial experience and expertise to individuals to lead a better life.
What are the other philanthropic works you are involved in?
Social responsibility and cause championship are an integral part of our ethos. Our vision guides our strategic choices, drives our relationships and compels us towards a purposeful global mission – to create a positive change in people’s lives around the world. We have dedicated programs in the areas of education, health, livelihood enhancement and community improvement across the country.
Our contribution towards the welfare of community at large further extends to our efforts in line with the Government of India’s efforts. Recently, we associated with ‘Eat Right’ movement by FSSAI, which is an exemplary initiative to promote healthy lifestyle among the masses and towards building a healthier country. Safe & nutritious food at School campaign – to promote food safety and benefits of eating healthy food amongst children and TB-Free India summit. We contributed INR 1 crore towards Kerala Chief Minister’s public relief fund to support the flood affected victims recently.
I am also on the Vice Chair of the governing body of United Ways of Delhi, which focuses on education, livelihood, health, environment and disaster response. The scope of work is wide and varies from location to location, to ensure it matches local priorities. The key priorities include helping children read, preventing girls from dropping out of school, training people with disabilities, raising awareness on public health issues, increase the green cover of the city or rejuvenate lakes.
How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
Success to me is living the company’s values everyday, leading with passion, purpose and pride and inspiring others to perform their best and celebrating people success. I have always viewed obstacles as opportunities to grow and innovate, I believe empowering and growing together are the foundation pillars of innovation. I contribute rigorously to the thought that organizations perform better when all employees work collaboratively across organizational lines, and are allowed to voice their opinions, have healthy and open discussions and learn from each other’s experiences. It is this belief of ours as an organization that has enabled successful 20 years of Amway operations in the country and has helped in establishing Amway as the number one FMCG direct selling company.
A recent project or solution to a problem that you have made better, faster, smarter or less expensive?
We are embarking on our journey of new way of working across Amway globally. This is in line with the AmwayNEXT strategy to fund our growth initiatives, align and prioritize resources with customers at the centre of the business. The initiatives towards a more agile organization started last year with a rigorous process that involved outside-in thinking, reviewing the best industry practices and incorporating inputs of leaders from all areas of our organization. This analysis drove key changes and established a differentiated approach for functional designs including the following:
- Investing in Amway Direct Sellers/Customer-facing functions to drive fast, innovative, customized solutions for Amway direct sellers and customers (Sales, Marketing, Digital, Analytics).
- Standardizing global support function activities to drive synergies and deliver efficiencies. In the process, create sustainable funding to reinvest in our growth initiative pillars including Digital Transformation, Product Experiences, Amway Direct Sellers Incentives and Leader Growth Solutions.
In your opinion what is the most significant aspect of leadership?
Leadership to me is best described as “you can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life!”
I believe in a transformational and participative leadership with strong focus on 3 Ps- People, Process and Purpose. As a true servant leader and people’s person, I have managed to achieve remarkable results through teamwork, involving team members in decision making, helping them grow and creating a caring organization which reflects in my belief. I believe in constantly nurturing relationships even while challenging my team. I have developed a highly motivated workforce who are inspired to channelize their discretionary energy, as well as their commitment and creativity, towards achieving the organizational goal.
When you look across good to great transformations, you will see ‘discipline’ as the one common culture across organizations, when you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy, when you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance!
In my current role, as the Chief Executive Officer of Amway India, having led diversified teams in both Indian and US based multi-national organizations, I am driving Business Strategy, Supply Chain, Corporate Finance, Manufacturing, Business Excellence for the company. Apart from this, I am also focused on driving Go-To-Market strategy, Geography and Cluster management, Development of infrastructure including stores / e-commerce, sales operations and promotions, and Cross Functional Talent Building.
Your perception of an empowered society. How far your industry has / can contribute for the same?
In my view, the true meaning of empowerment is when you feel responsible and at the same time independent to drive things. The true feeling of empowerment in the team comes with information sharing, rewarding, and sharing power. An empowered society is where new ideas are welcome, innovation flourishes, people are inspired, and they work together to find solutions to hard problems.
At Amway, we are empowering the society, especially women by offering them an opportunity to own and operate their own business by selling distinctive and high-quality nutrition, beauty, personal care and home/ durable products. There is no cost to join the Amway Business and the products have a money-back guarantee for 100% satisfaction of use. We provide a conducive ecosystem to entrepreneurial minded individuals to pursue their goals, along with the tools and training that help them represent Amway and its products in a more articulate way. These include online and offline trainings, product videos, mobile applications etc. We also nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship in individuals by imparting the skills required to run a business/an enterprise and by providing a community of mentors to support and guide them at every step.
We have recognized the strong entrepreneurial spirit in the country which is well reflected in our research, Amway India Entrepreneurship Report 2017. This report has shown that a majority of Indians want to start a business of their own and 70% of the nation’s population has a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. Moreover, 61% of youth consider entrepreneurship a good prospect to earn a livelihood in India. This aptly establishes the huge potential of direct selling in India.
We strongly believe that direct selling can play a crucial role in fueling the economic growth and in creating employment opportunities, especially for women and youth. Women not only represent half of the population, but half of the potential too and we take immense pride in the fact that more than 60% of our direct sellers are women and this is especially gratifying for us. We are also tuning our strategy to tap the potential of youth, which comprise a major part of India’s population. The opportunities for employability as well as consumption among under 35 audience are manifold. Every year, more than 12 million people are joining the workforce of this country and there is a clear gap in both employment and employability. At Amway, our focus is on supporting the efforts of the Government in creating opportunities of employment. The current trend prevailing in the country clearly indicates positive inclination of the millennials towards entrepreneurship which is encouraging for the Direct Selling Industry. Our commitment is to develop the entrepreneurial ability in them by giving them the right environment, the right incentive, the right opportunity along with appropriate coaching and training.
One thing you wish to change and one thing you wish to retain about your industry?
To change: In India, the economy and businesses are changing rapidly. New laws addressing this fast-changing ecosystem should be brought out. All laws before 1990 should be reviewed for their relevance. Today acts of 1970s exist for Business in 2000. There should be progressive laws for consumer protection as consumer is the king!
To retain: Keep encouraging and perpetuating an entrepreneurial mindset and empower people to lead better lives.
Whom do you owe your success to?
My family has been very supportive during the different phases of my professional career. My wife and my kids inspire me and keep me grounded.
Best thing about your job?
I love connecting with people as for me they are intrinsic and at the heart of all strategies. It is a source of immense satisfaction to be in a business like Amway which encourages and perpetuates an entrepreneurial mindset and empowers people to lead better lives. A constant source of daily fuel is innovation, planning for the future and leading a purpose driven life. Two key targets for me are to increase the women participation in our business and encourage micro entrepreneurship within our entire ecosystem. I enjoy the ‘fast, focused and fun’ culture at Amway.
A message from you to all the future entrepreneurs/leaders?
At Amway, from our experience of helping people run their own businesses, we have learnt that while there is an inherent entrepreneurial spirit in all of us and the extent may vary, entrepreneurship can also be learnt. An entrepreneurial mindset begins with being opportunity-oriented and demonstrates leadership. Leadership skills are used to convince others to follow them in their quest of fulfilling their business vision and to take significant risks. One of the most important things about successful entrepreneurs is that they are prepared to fail. Success for them means a process of continuous efforts, learning from mistakes and others’ experiences, course-correction and keeping on doing the things that matter.