An accomplished business leader with rich experience spanning across two decades in FMCG, Manufacturing, Financial Services and Direct Selling domains, Anshu Budhraja currently leads India Business of Amway as the Chief Executive Officer.
Through his current and previous roles in both Indian and US-based multi-national organizations, Anshu has built a distinguished career with a deep understanding of various aspects of the FMCG sector, including go-to-market strategy, geography and cluster management, development of infrastructure including stores/e-commerce and cross-functional talent building, among others.
As the CEO of one of the country’s largest FMCG direct selling companies, he leads Amway’s India Business Operations including Business Strategy, Supply Chain, Corporate Finance, Manufacturing, and Business Excellence. In the last two decades, Anshu’s priorities have been Amway India’s strategic growth, defining and successfully guiding the organization’s roadmap to build momentum in one of its key markets, consolidating core focus areas, strengthening new forays, and building the right organization.
Under his leadership, Amway has won many prestigious awards including Most Trusted Brand, Most Admired Brand, Best Employer for Women, and Best Corporate in Water Conservation and Management. Under his able mentorship, Amway has been certified as a Great Place to Work four times in a row from 2016 to 2019. Recognized as an action-oriented business leader, Anshu is a firm believer in the power of agile business models and a future-ready workforce.
Anshu has been the recipient of several industry recognitions, owing to his diverse work experience and sector expertise. In 2018, he was adjudged the ‘Most promising Business Leader of Asia’ followed by the ‘Business Leader of the Year’ award in the FMCG Category for his leadership approach and innovations in 2019. Most recently, for his distinguished contribution to the industry, Anshu has been recently appointed as a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council.
Anshu Budhraja holds a degree in Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management (Arizona – USA) and also has an Accounting Degree. He is a post-graduate in Commerce and Economics from the University of Delhi.
Our Exclusive Interview:
1. What does Leadership mean to you?
To me, simplicity, specificity, clarity, and execution are critical. I believe in transformational and participative leadership with a strong focus on ‘People’; I believe People come before strategy and they are the ones who drive it, so we need to have the right people in the right job to lead with discipline. We used a ‘distributed leadership organization structure’ where people across levels acted as change leaders, taking ownership, and driving the organization’s objectives, aligned with Amway’s growth mindset. This structure encouraged our employees to innovate and develop solutions to ensure business continuity and take the opportunity to build capabilities. I have always believed that PEOPLE are at the core of our business, and it is them who lead the business. At Amway, we empower and inspire people by offering them freedom to drive independently, resulting in more commitment, satisfaction, increased productivity, and output. I believe that to be successful – you must be focused, ‘fail fast, fix fast and learn fast’.
The widely used inspirational quote – “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”, best describes my style of leadership
The global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we operate. This has created a sense of uncertainty amongst the employees. But as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The COVID-19 crisis taught us to lead our people and business with empathy and compassion. As a leader, it is most important to stay connected and support the workforce across functions and levels to help them feel secure and valued during these challenging times. I always look back at our Founder’s Growth mindset principles of lead with heart, live to serve and love to learn which act as a guiding force and help me navigate through these trying times.
2. How do you keep your team motivated?
At Amway, our employees are at the heart of who we are hence, to create transparency and certainty we have undertaken significant measures that enable work management and constant learning while ensuring optimum engagement and flow of information.
Despite the uncertainty that the pandemic brought with it on the job front, Amway India stood together strongly with all its employees and focused solely on people strategy to keep its employees motivated during these trying times. This year has been highest in engagement, alignment, and acceptance of founder’s growth mindset along with organizations goals, as per our Employee Engagement and Culture Survey.
To help employees cope up with the uncertainties and reinforce hope, we took significant measures for work management and constant learning while ensuring optimum engagement and flow of information with initiatives such as ‘Work by Design’, fun@work virtual engagement programs; e-onboarding process; announcement of increments, promotions, salary revision and recognition as per earlier plans; regular virtual townhalls, employee medi-claim covering COVID-19 and last but not the least, regular employee surveys and feedback to achieve remote working readiness.
3. What is the incident/ case study that comes to your mind when it was crucial to you to take the lead in solving it? How did you solve it? How did you ensure that it was implemented?
To ensure that these norms are implemented across the organization, market, customer, and employees, multiple measures were taken. The direct selling industry also witnessed its own set of challenges during the on-going pandemic. The sudden lockdown brought the business to a standstill, moving us into an unchartered new paradigm. The lockdown left us with the challenging task of recovery and restoration, alongside embracing the ‘new normal’.
- With our corporate affairs and regulatory interventions, we were able to resume manufacturing plant operations. In our focus to ensure employee safety in the manufacturing plant parallelly maintaining plant operations, we provided day to day support of employee needs during the lockdown. They were provided with packed foods at the doorstep all 3 times, a safe stay option within the plant premise and 24X7 medical support.
- We reinstated the supply chain by reopening stores and warehouses in a phased manner. Our focus was to ensure the last-mile delivery of our products as of today we have scaled up to servicing over 16,000 pin codes that are 84% of the All-India pin codes, which is further being scaled up. Alternately, we also launched multiple interventions like ‘e-mail ordering and delivering from the store’ within 48 hours, partnering with local vendors for delivery, ramping up our capacities for online order and delivery amongst others.
- To ensure that business runs as usual, we took several proactive measures to support and protect our direct sellers’ business operations. We extended continuous support and engagement through online training programs and conducted over 25000 online training programs across regions in 2020, reaching over 20 lakh direct sellers and their consumers.
- Employee health and safety is the topmost priority at Amway. We pioneered ‘Work by design’ while reviewing our policies on Flexible Working and with an endeavor to create convenience to employees, have shifted from a time bound to a role bound to culture. The policy is defined based on the guiding principles of Fairness, Consistency, Neutrality and Collaboration.
To navigate through these trying times with a growth mindset and come up with creative solutions, collaborating and connecting had taken the center table in every organization. We followed and implemented a distributed leadership organizational structure where everyone in their capacity across levels acted as a change leader taking ownership and driving the organization’s objectives, aligning with our founder’s growth mindset ‘Live to Serve’, ‘Love to Learn’ and ‘Lead with Heart’.
4. Have you struggled with work-life balance? How did you handle it? How do you handle it even now?
I believe that while we are working from home, we need to respect our home environment and our families. At home we don’t define spaces, unlike our workspaces and the key is to blend in. By blending in I mean home should never be turned into an office. My approach is to go with the flow by contributing and harmonizing in this environment.
We should be agile and mindful of shared resources when working from home. In line with this thought I plan my day in a way that I can get the most work done early in the morning, if it is over email, and then I walk around the house while taking calls during the day. One work from hack that words for me is a short rest in the afternoon.
As a fundamental optimist, I make the most of the circumstances, whatever they are. Work and home are not two sides of the same coin. If work provides you purpose, and you are passionate about it, then being at home enhances your creativity and connectivity. I believe that more than challenges, the opportunity is for us to be more self-reliant.
Work-life balance continues to be a key driver at Amway which believes in working together as a family whose spirit is driven by collaboration and a growth mindset. In line with this, we rolled out virtual engagement programs to keep their morale high in addition to regular external webinars to learn new skills
5. What is that key factor that is needed in building great leaders in India Inc.? Do you think any intervention is required in the process?
The dynamic work environment that we operate in today has re-defined a leader’s role amidst the pandemic. In the current times, leaders are required to be agile, tech savvy, fully engaged and most importantly compassionate business leaders who should be ready to answer existential questions. As a leader at an organization that believes in helping people live better, healthier lives, my go-to mantra aligned with our organization’s vision is to, ‘Lead with Heart, Live to Serve and Love to Learn’. I believe, these philosophies will become much more relevant in the post-COVID world, as we define our new normal and what leadership will entail in this new normal.
People and communities will continue to be at the heart of all decision making. They help give shape to an organization’s vision. A better tomorrow will be defined by stronger relationships built on tangible difference, I as a leader will be able to create in the lives of everyone, I (and my business) interact with. My suggestions on what the leaders can do which will be instrumental in building themselves as great leaders would be:
- Encourage creative thinking to drive business: We were able to raise the bar of innovation that helped drive business even in such situation. We encouraged creative thinking within the organization that led to ideas flowing from all corners irrespective of the position or power.
- Enabling people even more in this environment by providing them home tools/enablers and progressive policies that they can enjoy at home like their workplaces which the industry should work towards. Additionally, resilience, in the long run, will derive the success of the organizations.
- As teamwork and collaboration going beyond hierarchies, across functions, was the key with employees voluntarily coming forward with their expertise to support and fight these unprecedented times to drive shared purpose which we stand for.
6. How do you define your vision for your organization?
Let me begin by quoting our visionary Founder Family member – Jay V Andel “The purpose of Amway is to get people into a new life of excitement, promise, profit, and hope, while serving the needs and wants of people”. The pandemic has changed our outlook towards how we live and how we conduct business.
Globally we have embarked on a 10-year growth roadmap aligned with some of the biggest global trends, including unleashing entrepreneurship through social commerce – a next- generation trend that will reshape the future of commerce. We as an organization are following the vision based on these mega trends to continue to drive our growth journey and to gear up for the future. It is how we will live our purpose of helping people live better, healthier lives every single day. I firmly believe that it is the people who make the fundamentals of any organization, hence I put ‘We before me’. Integrity and teamwork are the two most important phenomenon for me. I believe in doing what is right and not just what ‘works’. Lastly, I believe in building and fostering my team as well as myself to push boundaries and get outside of our comfort zones, take risks, learn fast and never stop doing what we love.
Know the Person
- Your favourite film is Marvel’s Avengers series of movies.
- Your favourite food I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine with chipotle and dry Tapatio sauce. My current favourite is shrimp tacos with avocado salsa, sour cream, and cilantro sauce.
- Your favourite holiday destination iS Herrsching am Ammersee in Upper Bavaria
- The person you admire the most One person I look up to is Elon Musk. I strongly admire his passion for pursuing his interests. He has a practical approach towards business and life.