We promote merit: Sundeep Chugh
New Delhi: Sundeep Chugh took over as chief executive of Benetton India Pvt. Ltd in January 2016. He has been commercial director of the firm since 2011, contributing to the growth of brands such as United Colors of Benetton, Sisley and Undercolors.
Chugh has over 20 years of experience working with companies like Adidas, LG and Aditya Birla Group. In an interview, he talks about his people philosophy, his definition of an ideal workplace and the importance of ownership and freedom in an organization. Edited excerpts:
Why are people important in the growth of a company?
People are key assets of any organization. A motivated mind is the best enabler in an organization’s growth. You may have strategy, infrastructure and processes but without the right kind of people no company can move forward. I believe great vision without great people is irrelevant.
What, according to you, is a great workplace?
An ideal workplace, for me, is where one gets a positive environment which is motivating. Employees must feel that they are the owners of their jobs. I believe in empowering people with a sense of responsibility and accountability. Once you give them freedom, they become entrepreneurs. We intend to create this feeling of ownership in the whole value chain.
What is your personal people philosophy?
As a leader, I should be approachable to people. I also believe that leaders must hire people who are brighter than themselves, who can think of great ideas that can aid in the growth of the company. There has to be an element of inclusivity where employees feel that they are a part of the decision-making process. Benetton India’s marketing campaigns, for instance, over the last two years have been created with active participation from women employees because their thinking matches with that of our target consumer group. It is also important for a leader to delegate with a clear mandate so that the employees feel the ownership.
What are the key initiatives that Benetton has taken to promote growth and retention of employees?
We have always believed in having a transparent and direct communication with employees. When we went through government of India (GoI) reforms like demonetization and goods and services tax (GST), I have on my own directly communicated the implications it will have on employees.
At Benetton we keep an open, transparent environment and have a number of initiatives. For instance, we have an initiative called ‘Heart to heart with the CEO’ – where I speak to the team once a month. The idea is to encourage people to challenge the status quo and come up with new ideas to steer the growth of the company.
How do you ensure that women employees feel motivated and see personal growth at Benetton?
When you look at our marketing campaigns like ‘United by Half’ which talks about gender equality, it also represents the culture of our company.
We believe in gender neutrality and have always promoted merit over gender. Benetton India is one of the organizations in the country where in some of the roles women are paid more than their male counterparts because of the sheer value they bring.
Apart from having women employees across various departments, two of our key divisions are being headed by women leaders—marketing division is headed by Jasleen Kaur Gumber and buying and merchandise is headed by Harita Choudhary.