Truth must be communicated to keep customers, build brands | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:07 AM, November 29, 2020

The Chief Executive Show

Truth must be communicated to keep customers, build brands

New Zealand Dairy Products (BD) Ltd Chief Executive Officer Mohsin Ahmed says at The Daily Star’s The Chief Executive Show powered by Marico

When changes come, everyone starts diverting their attention to it and acts like the past has become obsolete. The same happened during this coronavirus pandemic when almost every company tried to connect their products with the Covid-19 in one way or another.

To New Zealand Dairy Products' Chief Executive Officer Mohsin Ahmed, such technique has both good and bad consequences because the pandemic may not last forever.

The products that have nothing to do with the pandemic but are being linked will face a challenge in future, he said.

"The truth must be communicated. Because authenticity is paramount in brand communication."

All dairy products of the country's largest dairy product manufacture contain vitamin D. Now, it would not be a good idea to promote these as immunity booster to relate with the situation.

"There must be a balance, no matter whether the marketing of the product has changed the dimension or the textbooks have been upgraded."

He believes that if the traditional way of communication shifts fully to digital platforms, it would be challenging as most people still think the traditional way and the brands will be at a loss.

Ahmed, a veteran corporate personality, said opportunities existed everywhere, but companies are not ready to seize them all the time.

"A market is a dynamic place, and the consumer need is also changing. It's the CEOs job to identify the need gap and keep his organisation prepared."

New Zealand Dairy's vision statement is "Adding value to life through offering the best quality products at affordable prices to support a healthy and long life."

As seen in the business world, all companies showcase a vision statement, but Ahmed said most companies' vision statements are only to be displayed, not being appropriately followed.

A CEO should be able to craft the vision and nurture employees through the vision to take the organisation forward, he said.

Like many other successful business leaders, Ahmed did not imagine that he would end up in the corporate sector as he was interested in public service.

During post-graduation, he attended the Bangladesh Civil Service exam. Simultaneously, he applied for a job at British American Tobacco Bangladesh Company.

During his last interview at BATBC, he was asked what he wanted to achieve in life.

"At that time, I didn't know what the designation of the top position is. But I said that I wanted to see myself in that position," he said.

He joined BATBC. Afterwards, Ahmed started his career in public service as an assistant commissioner. But he missed the corporate environment of the multinational company so much that he came back after a year.

Ahmed, who went to Jhenaidah Cadet College, said the ideology of his college principal guided him throughout his career.

"One day, he asked us to write an application for the job of a sweeper, as we were intermediate level students and were eligible for that job only. Seeing our reaction, the principal said: I don't care if you become a sweeper. But you have to be the leader of the sweepers."

While most CEOs of leading companies are business graduates, Ahmed is not, and he believes that it's his strong suit.

"I get to learn on the job, especially from the customers. If you have a problem and can't think of any solution, go to the consumers, and you'll get a solution," said Ahmed, who studied applied physics and electronics at Dhaka University. 

BATBC was a great place to learn for Ahmed, and he always stayed prepared to learn from every opportunity that came his way.

"I didn't have to be master of everything, and I didn't mind learning from juniors. The seniors didn't have much time to teach or coach, and I had to learn anyway."

During his stint, his goal was to learn and imitate the good deeds of senior leaders which shaped his understanding about the corporate world in a different way than a regular business graduate.

Ahmed also worked for New Zealand Dairy, Unilever, Nestle, Emami and Linde before helming the current role.

"Leading a company is always hard. But leading companies in the 21st century is even harder as leaders have to deal with different generations of employees."

"If we, as a part of Generation X or Y generation, don't change our mentality, we will have to face a real challenge. We have to change ourselves," he said.

Generation X is the age cohort born before the 1980s but after the Baby Boomers; the Generation Y, or Millennials, are typically thought of as those born between 1984 and 1996; and the Generation Z are those born after 1997 and are next to enter the workforce, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review.

"Leaders must be coached first about how to manage these employees from different generations," he said.

According to the CEO, leaders have two different approaches: toward their children and their employees. "I suggest my team members, particularly senior managers, to nurture young employees like their own children."

Nowadays, businesses are not only meant for business; they are also bound to play a vital role in the betterment of society, he said.

"The role is even more vital in the business environment in Bangladesh, where the regulatory framework is weak, and consumers are not much aware of their rights."

"If we ask only one thing to ourselves whether we are offering the best quality product that my family members can consume confidently, then it would be a great service to society."

Ahmed thinks that every successful business has to think about how it achieves success.

"How we achieve must be evaluated based on good values. If not, the achievement will be short term, and it will not be an achievement at all."


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