“Do business with a spirit to serve and watch it grow beyond your dreams” – Anurag Agarwal, MD & CEO, Natural Remedies
Anurag Agarwal is a man who started his life from very humble beginnings, runs a Rs. 375 crore business, treats his employees like they are his own family, believes in nature, trust and building relationships ahead of generating revenues.
He credits his success not to himself but to others.His father who imbibed in him the value of ethics and his mentors who guided him to be a professional and his colleagues too who have been with him in this journey for a long time.
In an informal interview (virtual) with Anurag Agarwal, Managing Director, Natural Remedies, Senior Consulting Editor Kajal Dobhal Business Connect understood his journey, his challenges, choices and the building of Natural Remedies from scratch.
We all have heard of this ancient saying, “A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step”. It applies for me too though I can also say it was literally the case for me.
My grandfather had started this business in the 1950s and I was sent to then Bangalore (now Bengaluru) to build the family business of herbal products. Those days, south India was quite different than as you see it today. It was a new and exciting beginning for me that I had embraced when I was asked to move to Bangalore to build the business in South India. Later, western India was added to my portfolio after seeing my success in South India.
The business that was started by my grandfather saw many twists in the 1990s. There was a family split in the business in 1996 and my father was handed over the southern part of the business as his share. Undeterred, we started the human health export division and renamed it Natural Remedies in 1998. It was the start of a new journey.
It was a challenging time for us. Though we had a sizeable number of years of experience under our belt, we were left with limited resources and a shortage of funds. By God’s graceand tremendous support from our business mentors, we managed to push through those tough times.
NATURAL REMEDIES WAS BUILT BRICK BY BRICK
Natural Remedies was built slowly over time. Our core values, vision and mission stood us through good time and bad times. Emphasis on treating employees like family was an integral part of our business growth. If our employees are happy, our business will grow was evident. We grew from Rs. 20 crores to Rs. 375 crores in flat 18 years.
We have evolved over the past 20 plus years. We brought in professionals who shared similar thoughts that was in sync with ours. They aligned themselves to our way of working. By giving our heads of departments a free hand to shape the destiny of the company, we created departments and capable teams who maintained professionalism and ensured we did ethical businesses. We also encouraged and supported our employees to reskill and evolve as we believe it is important for everyone to grow.
My experiences have taught me about the power of focus. The 80:20 Pareto principle helped me to focus on the things which matters the most, supported by a very able and committed team. We all constantly evolve and support each other in embarking on new activities to expand and grow the business. As the CEO & MD of Natural Remedies, I don multiple roles. I have to be a leader, a visionary, a decision maker, a manager and also manage my family.
“If we take care of people’s aspirations, trust will continue to grow among the teams resulting in robust business performance. Over here, we demonstrate trust leadership on every occasion therefore, people are happy to stay with us and contribute for mutual growth,” asserts Anurag.
THE ON-GOING PANDEMIC AND THE NEW NORMAL
The on-going pandemic has resulted in a lot of chaos. The global economy has shrunk, and India too has been affected. Though it pains us that many have lost their lives, the adage, health is wealth is finally being understood by one and everyone including the government.
As an employee first company, we have made it clear for our employees to fully utilize and adapt to embracing technology to the maximum. We have made a gradual shift to a ‘Physital’ approach. Physital is a combination of physical and virtual meetings.
To ensure everyone is connected from remote places across India, NRPL has launched the Virtual Connect and Virtual Universe. “A V-LEAD program, anyone in NRPL can get in touch with our core partners using the latest technology. Be its virtual call or virtual walk-through of our R&D facility, we have successfully implemented this,” explains Anurag.
Furthermore, the company has made participating in webinars the norm while, their robust IT team is pursuing different technologies to identify the best of technology that can further enhance the company’s growth and employee performance.
R&D IS THE KEY
Natural Remedies has a strong Research & Development team in place, and he attributes to the success of the company largely to the products that have been developed by his team here. “R&D plays a crucial role in providing new solutions to multiple unmet health needs be it of animals or humans. By adding trial data to validate the efficacy of our products and sharing this with our customers helps us in our stand also adds value eventually,”.
Though this is said by every company in the world, we at Natural Remedies follow it differently. For us, all our products are derived after understanding the customers needs and requirements. At Natural Remedies, right from the procurement of plants and herbs to maintaining quality, safety and consistency, our products talk.
Unlike other manufacturing processes, there are high degrees of challenges that we undergo as we deal in the phytogenic space. We have built our expertise around overcoming these challenges thus, creating a strong customer base and product development using scientific validations.
…AND HAPPY EMPLOYEES TOO
When we had restarted our lives with Natural Remedies, my father told me, take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. One of the key aspects for our growth was this policy that we followed. Our employees are our most cherished resource. Like how a farmer loves his produce, we love our employees. We treat them with utmost respect and our work culture reflects what our Vision, Mission and Values are.
We take efforts to imbibe the Vision, Values & Competencies when an employee joins us. Understanding these professionals come from different backgrounds, we make it a point that people understand our culture and get comfortable in imbibing the same, understanding how it supports their life journey. There are Personal Transformation groups that help assist our 500 plus employees in learning, understanding, and practicing the company’s values and competencies while performing daily work.
“We develop and nurture our employee’s talent via NRPL Talent Development Program. This program consists of identifying, nurturing, developing, and sustaining talent across all the levels and business units. Some of our initiatives under people development area are the High- Flyers program, Emerging leaders club, Coaching and Mentoring,” explainedAnurag.
Following these winning strategies, allows NRPL to have an open-door culture where transparency is a given. Every employee has unrestricted access to their respective line managers, cross functional managers,HR and to me in case of any concern or query.
“We encourage all employees to share ideas, concerns and feedback related to their job roles and professional life,” He Commented.
IT IS REWARDING FOR EMPLOYEES ALSO
Our employees are rewarded and recognized at every step of their career with us. At NRPL, fun filled activities, innovation, work life balance for our employees, long term incentives, performance-based incentive,the concept of GEM (Going the extra mile) and pilot projects ensure there is a healthy cross functional collaboration at every level. Employees from various functions are encouraged to come out with collaborative execution ideas for the pre-defined business goals and areas defined in the individual/team goal sheets that are in turn aligned to Annual Operating Goals.
All employees are encouraged to come up with GEM projects which are in line with well-defined key goals of the organization, that may have a revenue, cost, quality, timeline, or process impact on the business. These projects could be in line with AOP (Annual Operating Plan)& Long-term strategic plan.
WORK LIFE BALANCE
Anurag proudly points out that his team has always been discovering and creating ways for the company to mentor every individual to live as per our organizational values. The results are evident when there is a transformation both in their professional life and personal life as well.
This very thought of his employees who are family to him lead a happy professional & personal life too is proof enough for Anurag that he is in the right path.
In the past 35 years of running businesses, I have always followed what I learnt from my family. Be it my grandfather who instilled values in us to my father who strongly advised to run our business the ethical way. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business was a mantra that I understood and followed. All these values that I cherish have played a very pivotal role in growing and developing the organization to what it is today.
Completing the interview, an energetic Anurag’s advice to emerging leaders is,
“Business should be done with the spirit to serve and add value to the customers and the society. Profit and growth will happen as an outcome eventually!”
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