Alexander Reisch, Managing Director, India Philip Morris has over 25 years of experience across four continents. He has started profitable new markets, overseen multi-billion dollar regional revenues, and has played a key role in a company acquisition.
Reisch has been with Philip Morris International since almost the beginning of his career and has held many roles in the organization. He started as Brand Manager for Marlboro back in March 1993. Then went on to work in various regions including Switzerland, West and Central Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico.
Last year, in September he took on the role of Managing Director for India. In a recent interaction with People Matters, Reisch shared with us how he has seen the world of work shift gears and talked about the need to become more efficient and adaptable as the world of work gets more complex.
Switzerland, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico and now India, you have led teams and businesses in many diverse countries and regions. In over 25 years of experience across 4 continents, how have you seen the business landscape evolve? What do you think are some of the latest trends triggering the shifts in business and at work?
The business landscape has witnessed a tremendous change over the last 25 years, more so, in the last decade. Numerous practices have gone through radical changes.
Globalization is the new norm, and there is a dramatic shift in the way businesses now interact and engage with consumers. This is why leaders who have a deep understanding of different nuances in culture and preferences thrive. With markets being global, the fluidity of movement is such that no idea, no innovation, no technology whose time has come can be walled out. There is invariably a way in which it finds the consumer. Same is with leadership, you need to be able to adapt your style and ways of working to get the best out of your people and your teams.
Then, technology is a clear change driver. Today, the world is digitized and the leaders need to not only be abreast but also live and breed technology innovations. This is because the new age consumers – both external and internal are tech-savvy and use new tools to enhance their daily productivity.
Six years ago, it was ecommerce. Half a decade before that, it was the emergence of the online world. Today it is AI and blockchain. Consequently, business cycles have to keep pace.
Do you agree that to cope with the ever changing needs of business, organizations have to be more efficient and adaptable? How do you think organizations can become more efficient and adaptable and work to achieve sustainable business growth?
Transformation is everywhere and companies need to adapt and integrate new technologies and ways of working. Like in the 1980s, average businesses were 30 to 50 years old. Today, even large businesses die out in less than a decade. Most of the brands we knew in the 1980s are today either non-existent or completely transformed.
The only way there can be sustainable business growth is if companies keep reinventing themselves. Organizations need to understand that their biggest challenge is not market penetration but sustainability of products.
Unless businesses start making products that are gentler on the environment, climate and people, they will not survive into the next decade. Similarly, they need to reinvent their approach to market and who they see as market. We are reinventing ourselves at Philip Morris International by committing ourselves to innovation led transformation.
From a people management structure, successful companies now need to incorporate the needs of the generation by making the workplace more welcoming, fun, and experimental. Projects and involvement in challenges trump job title and silo / functional accountability.
Further, with strong technology infrastructure as backbone, organizations can provide a highly connected and accessible ecosystem of work anywhere, anytime. This offers work-life balance, delivers flexibility and agility and enhances the productivity of the employees. People around the globe are adapting and profiting from these advancements; building trust and equity alike.
What are some key talent priorities to ensure sustainable business growth? How do you think business and HR leaders need to change their people agenda to create high-performance organization?
Besides wearing a global lense and integrating technology in every function, it is also important that employees communicate and interact with each other to seek speed, scale, simplification and cost efficiencies.
Globalization and the rise of emerging economies has enabled organizations to expand rapidly and tap into not only unrealized market opportunities but also diverse workforce. In order to succeed in this connected world, companies are opting for a ‘glocalized’ approach which enables them to be multicultural and contrasting in the true sense. This ‘glocalized’ approach is required not only while taking business decisions but also while creating talent strategies.
To succeed in this context, it is imperative for organizations to create an environment which fosters cross-pollination of ideas in order to solve real consumer issues. Therefore, organizations must enable employees to partner in the decision making process. Employees, on the other hand, should have mental flexibility and agility to work in the rapidly changing landscape.
Therefore, organizations should create a learning culture where the ownership of capability building lies with both employees as well as the organization.
What does building Philip Morris International as a high-performance organization mean to you? Can you share some key talent practices and policies that are helping you in achieving sustainable business growth and staying ahead of the curve?
Philip Morris International is transforming in a big way. And it isn’t just about creating novel, innovative products, we believe it is not companies that change industries, but people!
We take a holistic approach to make an impact in the various employee life-cycle touchpoints and have hence created enabling culture through strong ecosystem of talent practices with a belief that the right ecosystem lies at the core of any high-performance organization.
Our essential pillars have been Equity and Fairness, Inclusion and Diversity, and Collaboration. These pillars are also espoused in the Leadership behaviors which we call as Energies. Our principles on Equity and Fairness are enshrined in our Guidebook for Success as well as ensured through our objective appraisal & talent review systems. Through our Fast Forward initiative, we enable employees to form cross functional teams to co-create solutions and experiment the ideas in the real life scenario. Through our policies on Inclusion & Diversity, we have ensured that we give equal opportunities to a diverse workforce to voice their opinions.