Manu Balachandran is a writer for Forbes India, based in Bengaluru. At Forbes India, Manu writes on automobiles, aviation, pharmaceuticals, banking, infrastructure, economy and long profiles among many others. He also moderates many of Forbes India's CEO and CXO events and hosts Capital Ideas, a podcast on the most riveting success stories from the business world. He has previously worked with Quartz, The Economic Times and Business Standard in Mumbai and New Delhi. Manu has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University and a degree in economics from the Loyola College. When not chasing stories, he is most likely obsessing over Formula 1 (Read: Lewis Hamilton), historical events and people, or planning long weekend drives from Bengaluru
Life has come full circle for LV Vaidyanathan.
After starting out as an intern at the global FMCG giant, Procter & Gamble (P&G), in 1995, Vaidyanathan has now been handed the baton to drive P&G’s growth in India, as the Cincinnati-headquartered consumer goods giant navigates its way out of a pandemic.
Vaidyanathan, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, will take over as the India head of P&G from July 1 after a successful stint in Indonesia where he led the group’s business through the Covid-19 pandemic. The 49-year-old started his started his career with P&G in 1995 as an intern and joined the sales team from campus in 1996. Since then, he has spent more than 26 years at the company across geographies, such as India and ASEAN countries including Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Under his leadership, the Indonesian business has transformed to become value accretive for the parent company and has overtaken a formidable competitor in the market by turning around the share gap in the last four years," the company said in a statement. P&G currently sells baby diapers, blades and razors, feminine care, shave prep, health care, skincare, and shampoos in India.
The company operates three entities in India, two listed and an unlisted arm that have a combined revenue of around Rs12,000 crore annually, roughly $1.5 billion. In contrast, P&G Global has an annual revenue of $76 billion, which means that the company is far lagging the massive opportunity in one of the world’s largest FMCG markets. India’s FMCG market is expected to grow $220 billion by 2025, from $110 billion in 2020, according to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation.
Last year, Procter & Gamble Home Products Private Limited posted revenues of Rs6,196 crore, while net profit stood at Rs482 crore. At Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Healthcare, revenues stood at Rs3,574 crore while net profit was to the tune of Rs651 crore. Gillette, another arm, saw revenues grow to Rs2,009 crore in FY 21, while net profit stood at Rs310 crore. In contrast, its rival Unilever posted revenues of nearly Rs46,000 crore in 2021. Unilever had set up its India operations in 1930, while P&G entered the Indian shores only in 1989 and had struggled for long with profitability and market share.
That means, Vaidyanathan, the P&G veteran, will certainly be looking at transforming the Indian arm’s operation to capitalise on the strong growth prospects in the country. The bespectacled executive is a fan of Satya Nadella, the Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, and will look to emulate Nadella in bringing change to the culture and the image of the company.
“I have been inspired by what Satya Nadella has been able to create with Microsoft, what he took the business at, and how he has been able to change the culture, transform the image of Microsoft among consumers and that has been inspiring,” Vaidyanathan said in an interview in 2021.
“We will raise the bar on all aspects of our superiority strategy—product, package, brand communication, retail execution, and value,” Vaidyanathan said in a statement. “We will continue to drive productivity improvements to fund investments in innovation and help drive balanced top-and bottom-line growth. As a focused and agile and accountable organisation operating at the speed of the market, we will also aim to lead constructive disruption across the value chain in the industry.”
After his internship with P&G, Vaidyanathan built up his career across various sales leadership roles across India. His first international assignment was in 2004 in P&G Vietnam, where he worked as the sales director. Between 2007 and 2018, Vaidyanathan worked across various leadership roles in the company in the ASEAN region, including head of sales for Southeast Asia and head of marketing and commercial for Philippines. In 2018, Vaidyanathan was elevated to the role of CEO, P&G Indonesia.
In 2021, Vaidyanathan gave a glimpse of his job at hand, and how he goes about his work. “The core part of our business relies on innovation,” Vaidyanathan said in an in interview. “And the way we design products and proposition first starts with understanding the consumer. Then we design products, which offer superior performance and superior value. Once we have that, we market that to consumers in a way that is most receptive. Propositions are designed to appeal to the millennials, and boomers and the demographic keeps shifting. The core which is to design products which offer superior quality and value doesn’t change. The way we bring these propositions to life has evolved.”
Vaidyanathan, who often starts his day with long runs or yoga, is also a passionate advocate for equality and inclusion, and under his leadership, P&G has managed to have 50 percent women representation in their leadership team, the company said in a statement.
“He has also stepped up the company’s focus on environment sustainability in Indonesia where all of the company’s manufacturing sites have become ‘zero manufacturing waste to landfill’, and the company is working with external stakeholders to innovate and develop technology that can accelerate efforts to advance the circular economy,” added a statement from the company.