Various topics critical to the Group's sustainability agenda were discussed on the first day of the conference; Enablon Safety App and revamped Group sustainability website launched
The theme of the Annual Sustainability Conference was Mega Trends impacting the businesses. The day began with the Chairman’s message and opening of the revamped sustainability website. The Group CSO Tony Henshaw, gave a broad overview of the Sustainability journey of the group and launched the Enablon Safety App. This was followed by a highly engaging CEO panel discussion. In the afternoon the business CEOs had panel discussions on how the various mega trends can impact their business.
Curtains went up on the second edition of the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) Sustainability Conference – an initiative aimed at showcasing the Group's success in embedding sustainability in its business operations and providing further impetus to the green agenda.
The Sustainability Conference held in Mumbai, was aimed at deliberating and creating awareness about the external factors challenging the Group's efforts to build sustainable business for the medium and long-term.
Rajiv Dube, Director, Group Corporate Services read out the message from Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. Reiterating that sustainability was a key priority, Mr. Birla underscored the Group's vision to become the leading Indian conglomerate for sustainable business practices across its global operations by 2017. The Chairman touched upon the Group's sustainability milestones and highlighted the need to cover further ground in ingraining sustainable business practices in the Group's DNA. The Chairman expressed hope that the conference will collectively endeavour to take stock of the progress and challenges that the industry faces and draw a roadmap for the future.
The Group's revamped sustainability website was launched on the occasion by Mr. Dube.
In his address, Tony Henshaw, Chief Sustainability Officer, ABG, gave an overview of the distance covered by the Group in its sustainability journey and the way forward to achieve the Group's Vision 2030. Mr. Henshaw also launched the Enablon Safety App.
Mr. Henshaw touched upon the Group Sustainability Cell's (GSC) initiatives to broad base the sustainability learnings. Vasant Hiremath, Hindalco Belgavi, Karnataka, and Abhilash Nandala, Hindalco Kollur plant, Andhra Pradesh, enlightened the audience about their successes in improving safety at the workplace through GSC e-courses.
Setting the tone for the two-day event, Mr. Henshaw said, sustainability will become a defining factor for businesses and only those, which succeed in institutionalising sustainability into their operational practices will survive in the future.
The CEO Panel Discussion that followed was high on engagement quotient with business heads from various companies discussing 'How the mega trends associated with 'External Factors" will influence your business' sustainability to 2030 and beyond'.
Mr. TV Narendran, Managing Director, Tata Steel India and South East Asia, Mr. Pravin Shah, President and Chief Executive – Automotive Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Mr. Dilip Gaur, Managing Director, Grasim Industries and Head – Pulp & Fibre, Aditya Birla Group and Mr. Thomas Varghese, Business Head, Textiles, Acrylic Fibre & Overseas Spinning, Aditya Birla Group participated in the session which was moderated by Shashank Tripathi, partner strategy leader, PWC India. Setting the context for the discussion, the four business leaders presented the challenges before their businesses and the efforts to future proof.
While Mr. Narendran emphasised the need for industries to address the growing inequalities in a diverse country like India and the Tata group's learnings from its largest greenfield project in Kalinganagar, Odisha; Mr. Shah called upon businesses to take leadership and advised against depending on the government to offer solutions to problems.
Mr. Varghese suggested anticipating regulations and working ahead to future proof their businesses, while Mr. Gaur advised the need for businesses to pioneer change and putting systems in place to meet the challenges.
Towards the end of the discussion, Mr. Tripathi sought to know Mr. Narendran's views on whether increasing gender diversity could advance the cause of sustainability. The Tata steel MD was unequivocal in saying that more gender diversity meant more sustainability for businesses.
The post-lunch session began with a panel discussion on Best Practices on Scenario Planning / Future Proofing with leaders from three business divisions – Textiles, Shipping & Trading and Financial Services – detailing their efforts to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Mr. Thomas Varghese, Business Head, Textiles, Acrylic Fibre & Overseas Spinning; assisted by Mr. Kartik Krishnamoorthy, Senior Manager, Aditya Birla Group, encapsulated the efforts underway in textiles division to identify scenarios which could impact the business. Mr. Nikhilesh Balgi, Head – Credit Risk and Analytics Division, Aditya Birla Financial Services Group and Mr. Arijit Sen, Global Head – Strategy; Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte, presented the efforts by their companies. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Sen.
A discussion on Best Practices on Resource / Carbon Management which followed helped in enlightening the audience about the efforts by Birla Carbon, Hindalco and Idea Cellular to advance their sustainability agenda through conservation of energy and increasing efficiencies. The panel included Mr. Gilles Moninot, Global Director of Sustainability, Birla Carbon, Ms. Amy Hickman, Sustainability Analyst, Birla Carbon, Mr. Debashish Ghosh, Assistant Vice President, Technology (Energy), Hindalco; Mr. Jacob Mathew, Senior Vice President – NWs & Sustainability Champion, Idea Cellular. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Moninot.
The penultimate discussion of the day revolved around 'Best practices on Supply Chain Management'. The panel included Mr. James Brown, P.E., Environmental Manager, Novelis Inc., Dr. Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer – Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd and Head PDQAT & Business Excellence, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle, Mr. Manohar Samuel, President & Business Development – Birla Cellulose. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Ajay Sardana, Joint President & Chief Sustainability Officer, Pulp & Fibre Business.
Safety, one of the foundational pillars of sustainability – was the topic for the last discussion of the day. The panel comprised of leaders from UltraTech Cement Ltd, Chemical Fertilizer & Insulator and Bhuvaneshwari Coal Mining Ltd (BCML), part of Essel Mining & Industries Ltd (EMIL). Mr. Rakesh Paliwal, Head, Strategy and Business Development, EMIL, moderated the discussion. While Mr. Himanshu Nautiyal, Head, Business Excellence, WCM & Sustainability, Chemical Fertilizer & Insulator; gave an overview of the company's efforts to broad base safety ownership in the company, Mr. Sanjay Agrawal, Executive President and Chief Technology Officer, UltraTech Cement Ltd; informed how the company had redefined the definition of safety to extend it beyond the workplace. Mr. Om Prakash, COO, BCML, enlightened the company's efforts to institutionalise safety culture at BCML, the first mine developer-cum-operator project in India.
The day concluded with an enthralling performance by illuminated story tellers and illusionist Edmundo.
Three parallel sessions which discussed various aspects of business sustainability marked the second day of the Aditya Birla Sustainability Conference.
Parallel session-I with its theme ‘Are your people sustainable?’ helped in fostering a deeper understanding of various aspects of occupational health and safety, managing risks, workplace stress and human rights.
Occupational Health and Safety: Facilitator or hindrance?
Should the legal obligations under OHS be considered an impediment or a strategic partner to achieve business objectives? This was the objective of the first session of the day which was addressed by a panel comprising Mr. Milind Kulkarni, Chief People Officer, e-Zest Solutions Ltd; Dr. Shyam Pingle, Senior Occupational Health Specialist, Indian Institute of Public Health; and Mr. Dilip Joshi, industrial consultant. The speakers stressed the need for businesses to consider occupational health as a strategic partner and the importance of going beyond legal compliance to institutionalise a culture of health and safety. The importance of maintaining proper documentation was also highlighted.
Companies that look beyond mere legal compliance and adopt a proactive approach on sustainability will survive in the long run – a leitmotif of the first day’s discussions – was reinforced during the discussion on Operational Risk Management by Mr. Ranga Shingte, Principal Consultant, Green Organization Development; E-Sense Consulting. Mr. Shingte exhorted businesses to raise operational risk management to a strategic level.
Citing the instance of the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster where serious failures were overlooked and led to the death of all seven crew members, Mr. Shingte asked companies to encourage reporting of accidents and near misses which would, in the long term, lay the foundations for a strong safety culture.
Stressful workplace environment leads to a substantial increase in diseases especially cardiovascular problems. While stress at the workplace is unavoidable, small steps by individuals and organisations can go a long way in limiting damage to the physical and mental health of employees and the effect on businesses in the long term.
The panel discussion on For No Job Stress – Know Job Stress helped sensitise the participants about stress and stressors at the workplace, and why businesses should help in reducing stress at the workplace. The panel included Mr. Sunil Bilwar, Vice President and Head Corporate EHS, Hindalco Industries Ltd; Ms. Shilpi Bannerjee, Psychologist, Santulan Inc.; and Dr. Maulesh Patel, Chief Medical Officer, Essar Oil Ltd.
A survey of the participants revealed a large chunk suffered from some vulnerability to stress while others suffered from serious vulnerability. The findings of the survey were a testament to the urgent need to rivet the spotlight on workplace stress management.
The last session of the day explored ways to use ‘Human Rights as a lever for Sustainable Business’. Dr. Harpreet Kaur, Senior South Asia Researcher and Representative, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, made a case for making human rights an integral part of business operations and not restricting it as a function of the human resources department.
Dr. Kaur underscored the need for businesses to bring about a cultural shift in the backdrop of the United Nations Guiding Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Engaging and informative, the discussions helped deepen understanding of sustainability and set the pace for ushering in positive change.
Parallel session-III with its theme ‘Is your supply chain sustainable?’ helped in fostering a deeper understanding of various aspects of future trends in transportation, management of supply chain risks, 3D printing demystified and supply chain intelligence
The session began with a presentation on ‘Logistic Trends, now, in 10 years and in 20 years’ by . Vineet Agarwal, MD, Transport Corporation of India Ltd, who detailed the impact of change in consumer consumption, digital transformation, climate change, and circular economy on logistics, stressing that in the future, big, small and dark -data will be used for logistic automation. Mr. Agarwal emphasized that logistics in supply chain management should be a top priority for all businesses to create more value for shareholders.
Mr. Sanjay Tiwari, Global Head of Sales, Maersk Line Trade Finance, Mr. Sven Verstrepen, Head of Supply Network Innovation & Analytics, Ahlers, Mr. ShashiKallada, IMDG Code Compliance Centre, Mr. B. Ramasubramaniam, Co-founder and CEO, Blackbuck participated in the panel discussion which was moderated by Mr. Procyon Mukherjee, President Central Logistics Function, Hindalco.
As he opened the panel discussion, Mr. Mukherjee noted that transportation needed to be a source of competitive advantage for every company, with an urgent need for managing transport and logistics efficiently. Explaining how his company identified the need to improve customer experience in transportation logistics, Mr. Ramasubramaniam said that the chief idea was to improve the transportation process from within so as to deliver superior customer experience. “It is crucial to improve the lives of truck drivers and the entire logistics ecosystem, in order to offer superior customer experience”, said Mr. Ramasubramaniam.
According to Mr. Verstrepen, the barriers to real collaboration, were psychological rather than technical in nature. With access to a database with over 2 million European freight movements, his company, is able to capture an accurate picture of companies which can load together or use each other’s return trip to maximise efficiency and profitability for all parties.
According to Mr. Kallada, the main glitches for smooth logistics and compliance were untrained people and lack of expertise to filter out the priority areas.
Mr. Tiwari noted that Maersk’s Terminal Partnering Project with China will reduce emissions of harmful particles and increase port productivity contributing to achieving China’s five-year plan objective to reduce energy consumption by 16% for ocean transport and 8% for ports, and berthing time by 15%.
The speaker session on ‘Management of Supply Chain Risks’ provided insights as well as practical guidance on proven management practices and had Prof. Balaji S. Reddie, Balaji Institute of Modern Management, Pune, as the keynote speaker.
Ms. Alka Talwar, Chief CSR & Sustainability Officer, Tata Chemicals, Dr. Jagadish Barik, Chief Sustainability Officer & VP - Business Excellence, Textiles, Acrylic Fibre & Overseas Spinning Business, Aditya Birla Group, Dr. Cesare Saccani, MD, ICMQ, India, Mr. Damandeep Singh, Director, CDP India, gave insightful presentations with respect to their own companies.
During his address, Prof. Reddie took the audience through an outline of the session, with focus on specific risks which can affect supply chain. He spoke about how, not just nature, but global economic crisis, political unrest, demanding customers, shorter product lifecycles, technology changes, terrorism and cyber threats can also play havoc with a company’s supply chain.
Ms. Talwar emphasized, with examples from the industry, how Tata Chemicals worked along the value chain, targeting relevant stakeholders by mapping the value chain to understand relevant hotspots. Being inclusive of partner suppliers and by working together in collaboration, with facilitation as key, Tata Chemicals was able to manage supply chain risks, she noted.
Mr. Singh detailed how and why a company should engage with suppliers on environmental issues, underlining how climate and water risks are acutely impacting supply chains. His emphasis was on how, with collaboration and transparency in the value chain, organizations can demonstrate engagement, tackle the risks, take advantage of opportunities, and ensure business continuity.
Dr. Cesare Saccani stressed that certification needed to be credible and open, noting that an independent certification should be in place to help organizations improve its processes and products. According to him, different tools are available for customers along the supply chain and it is their responsibility to check if they are meeting the necessary requirements.
Dr. Jagadish Barik gave an interesting presentation on the Higg Index and its applications in the Group’s businesses. According to Dr. Barik, the fashion industry is highly conscious of supply chain management and the Group’s apparel and textile businesses worked with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of over 200 apparel companies, to improve the way they do business, with a goal to measure the performance of the business management systems using the Higg lndex (a measure developed for the fashion industry to advance supplier chain performance by brand and by product). The Nike Materials Sustainability Index (Nike MSI), a database that ranks more than 80,000 materials based on their environmental impacts, was adapted by the SAC in 2012 and also incorporated into the Higg Index, added Dr. Barik.
The speaker session on ‘3D Printing Demystified’ enlightened the audience on this fast-developing and cost-effective form of rapid prototyping. Mr. Guruprasad Kuppu Rao, Director, Technology and Operations, Imaginarium India Pvt. Ltd., explained the journey and uses of 3D printing and spoke about how it is affecting businesses now and will continue in the future; he also explained how organizations can develop strategies to ensure appropriate technology and adoption, highlighting the legal and security concerns currently being raised.
Mr. Rao noted that reduction or elimination of inventory cost, reiterative technology enabling mass customisation, and build process to create complex designs are some of the highlights of 3D printing making it ideal for product design development in architecture, jewellery, medical studies and chemical structures, with a variety of applications like concept development, design validation, moulding and casting patterns.
Mr. Amogh Patkar and Mr. Anik Raut from Imaginarium India Pvt. Ltd., provided hands-on experience about the working of 3D printing, and clarified its myths and realities.
Mr. Santosh Kumar Peshkar, Associate Vice President, Beore Inc., USA, gave an interesting presentation on ‘Supply Chain Intelligence’, providing insight into the future of supply chains while considering the effect of global mega trends.
According to Mr. Peshkar, building resilience towards supply chains was necessary to ensure the long-term survival of any organization and that there exists a substantial push-pull situation for any sustainability –driven innovation.
A thought provoking workshop, using Beore’s simulation tool, guided the audience through the process of estimating the emission status of caustic soda, although Mr. Seshagopal K., Associate Principal, Beroe Inc., stressed that software tools alone will not help procurement managers avoid supply chain risks, and one need human insight to go with the data provided by the tool.