A hands-on young entrepreneur with multi-sector experience, Malav Dani brings a distinct brand of creative and passionate entrepreneurial leadership to the Hitech Group.
His natural leadership traits were recognized early along with his spirit of continuous learning and application. He acquired a world-class education in management techniques at Purdue and Columbia University, followed by a highly successful six-year stint at General Electric. After returning to India he assumed positions of increasing responsibilities at the Hitech Group, a business founded and nurtured by his father Ashwin S Dani. Suryakant Dani, Malav’s grandfather, had pioneered rural marketing strategy and was an early influence on Malav’s core values of integrity and customer centricity.
“We believe in the core philosophy of Advaita Vedanta which has been implemented in our head office. In Sanskrit, ‘Advaita’ means ‘non-duality’ or ‘oneness’. Vedanta philosophy says that one attains liberation when one develops the ability to perceive each and every being as one. One can attain this final goal of liberation via any of the three paths: Gyaan (the path of knowledge), Bhakti (the path of devotion) and Karma (the path of selfless action). The three meeting rooms in Hitech are designed on the concepts of gyaan, bhakti and karma and the board room is named as Advaita. We believe that if every person in the organization makes a constant effort to gain knowledge and sharpen skill sets (gyaan), works with complete devotion (bhakti), and work selflessly towards organizational goals (karma), we will be able to deliver excellent results – ‘Excellence’ being our ultimate goal.”
“In contrast,” Malav recalls with a smile, “GE’s Boardroom is called the War Room.” He knows that well, having completed the Information Management Leadership Program (IMLP) as well as the Quality Six Sigma Black Belt Program at GE. He worked on several initiatives there, such as the CEO Cockpit, Mergers and Acquisitions, Audits and ERP implementation. One of his key projects with General Electric’s Corporate Treasury department won the Alexander Hamilton Corporate Treasury Award, USA.
The foundation of the Hitech Group stands on four core values: Integrity towards self and towards internal as well as external stakeholders, Commitment on deadlines and delivery, Innovation through thoughts and actions for process and product improvements – all leading to world class organizational and personal Excellence.
The group’s flagship company, Hitech Plast Ltd (HPL), is a publicly listed rigid plastic packaging manufacturer. HPL creates a diversified group of products that target a wide range of segments – from paint manufacturers, personal care and health care products, confectionary and other retail household items to lubricants and crop protection formulations. Many famous and popular brands rely on Hitech Plast’s innovative and sustainable packaging solutions, built on commitments of service, reliability and excellence, backed by 13 plants across India to put their offerings at the customers’ doorstep. Malav Dani’s experiential learning – from 5S and Six Sigma tools to root cause analysis and on-time delivery, backed by state-of-the-art equipment and information systems – are inherent in the company’s ethos.
His education in the US exposed him to cutting-edge thought leadership and an international, competitive environment in which he ideated and thrived. “Innovation starts with thought leadership, then processes, then products,” says Malav. “Daily, when I go to work, I peel off my old skin and go from caterpillar to butterfly – and make people comfortable in getting out of their skins to embrace change.” It is this quest for the new and unusual that led him to be among the early believers in Cloud as a future of computing and data storage which has led the Hitech Group to diversify risk and to embrace technologies and markets of the future.
Coatings Specialities (India) Ltd (www.coatingspl.com) aligns with and expands the Group’s range of offerings to key customer sectors in India. While distribution is one of the important lines of business for the Hitech Group, Malav is a staunch believer in the potential of India as a manufacturing hub, echoing the “Make in India” campaign of the Indian government. From 2010 through 2020, India will have the highest increase in the working age population (15-64 years) globally of about 119 million. This will be a significant source of competitive advantage.
Working with a number of industry partners that employ fresh graduates, community skill development and upgradation programs supported by the Hitech Group are implemented through several NGOs. Candidates benefit from career counseling, training and priority selections at job fairs. This is fundamental to enriching and empowering lives in a nation with immense potential where large numbers of people do not yet have access to top notch education. “A catalyst in creating as many jobs as I can – that’s what my epitaph should be,” says Malav, having stated the intent of creating at least 100,000 jobs through his organization.
When Malav first took over at Hitech Plast, the company essentially operated within a commodity business model where supplier and customer costs were largely predetermined. The only way to create a competitive edge was by implementing a cost leadership strategy. Malav consolidated plants and offices, eliminated many non-value added (NVA) processes and brought in digitization. This reduced the operating costs considerably. A ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach to quality and delivery defects brought down complaints level quickly. Appreciation, accolades and awards started to flow in from HPL’s top customers. Improved efficiency and customer satisfaction produced collateral benefits of better working capital and higher workforce productivity. That drove margin improvements and freed up cash for expansion and diversification into new, specialized and niche segments.
Competency building remains integral to Malav Dani’s approach towards an “intrapreneural” organization where everyone learns from everyone and leaders create the empowering environment for this to happen all the time. “Our enthusiasm for knowledge coupled with our thirst for knowledge is continuously evolving through a process of construction through destruction,” says Malav, echoing the Bhagvad-Geeta, “challenging ourselves to break down the limiting barriers so that we may realize boundless success.”
Malav Dani believes in separating opinions from facts. This enables him to balance a strong intuitive bent with the ability to go into detail and validate ideas and theories. He prefers substance over paraphernalia – an attitude reminiscent of a remark by renowned yoga exponent BKS Iyengar, who had a long-standing relationship with the Dani family: “Leave your ego at home, come here to learn.”