Don’t do it the European way, do it the Indian way, Says Oliver Mirza, MD, CEO, Dr. Oetker India

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld., Mirza talks about the differences in European and Indian corporate culture and how Dr. Oetker has adapted to Indian taste, needs and storing conditions. He also mentioned that his expansion plans in India are going to focus more on the efficiency of the current employees than hiring new workforce.


Q1. What are your top hacks for the wellness of your workforce? 
A. I am a people’s person, and every leader wants their workforce to be strong and well. I believe in three things; being able to delegate, to empower the people and to reach the goals. These are my hacks and my beliefs that help me to maintain my workforce and their wellness.

 Q2. Are you an accessible boss?
 A. Absolutely. I try to connect to everyone personally. When I’m in office, I roam around all day to talk and to engage with my workers. I believe in connecting and that’s what I try to do. I have an open door policy, and I want my employees to talk to me and tell me what they want or what they expect from the organisation.

Q3. In a past statement you mentioned about the expansion of your organisation to 500cr. By 2020, do you also plan to expand your workforce?
 A. Growing to a 500cr is a vision, not a plan. I’m planning to grow in other countries as well and I hope our vision turns into a plan very soon. If we talk about the number of employees, we currently have 400 on roan and 400 off road, but I’m planning to grow to a 1000 employees, although I know it’s not a very big number, but I feel that investing in Talent is much more important and useful for the company than to invest in more number of employees. I believe in the efficiency of work, and with quality workforce, I think 1000 employees would make a lot of difference.

Q4. Are you planning to launch any new products in the near future?
 A. For now, our latest launch is the ZeroFat Dressings which is expected to be a big hit in the market, and currently the challenge is to expand its reach from 10 million to 30 million. With the launch of this, I’m planning to focus on its marketing and to make a shelf in the market. New products will be launched, but not anytime soon, since that’s not the priority.

Q5. You have been in the European industry for so long, what are the differences that you’ve seen in the western and the Indian market culture and management?
 A. When I came to India, I had to do everything opposite as from Europe, “don’t do it the European way, do it the Indian way’, is what I believe in till date. The consumer needs, here in India are completely different from the western world, people in India have not developed the taste and we have to adapt to them as we’re working for the Indian consumers here. 10 years back when I acquired Fun Foods in India, I tried to change the taste line and the ingredients of the product according to the demands of the Indian market. We launched a whole new Vegetarian range as in India due to religious reasons; people don’t prefer eggs in their mayonnaise on some days. Launching this vegetarian range of spreads and sauces was a great Idea for the Indian market.

Q6. What excites about food?
 A. I love food. I love to experiment with food and I love to produce food, and of course I love marketing food. My father belonged to India, so the excitement for food and anything related to it is in my roots.

Q7. What are your plans for employee engagement? 
A. There are a lot of employee engagement activities which we conduct time to time. Even in our office we have a recreational space with board games like carom and chess etc. along with some relaxing space for lounging. We also do annual offsite work, where we travel with our teams for both business and leisure to enjoy the Employee employer Rishta (Relationship).

 Q8. What are the two things that you have learnt from the Indian market?
 A. First would be Jugaad. Indians love jugaad, and for a short period of time it’s efficient, but according to me, I think we should start with perfection from day 1 to hold it for a longer time. I personally believe in ‘Less jugaad and more perfection.’ Other thing which I’ve learnt is the bazaar culture. India is a mix of both, Discipline and Bazar Culture. 

Q9. What business strategies for the next 4 quarters?
 A. We aim to reach 250cr this year after the launch of our new ZeroFat dressings, last year, we were at 200cr, but I’m sure market will do better, and we are already ahead of our plans.

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Oliver Mirza Dr. Oetker Fun Foods


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