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Interviews Word of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom from Madhukar Mishra

“You cannot afford to miscalculate at the time of taking risk!”

Madhukar MishraThe man with substance has proved his mettle in the industry. The man had traveled so far and holds the milestones of diversified knowledge and skills. His persona reflects his positive attitude and logical thinking. In conversation with team Paper Mart, Mr. Madhukar Mishra speaks on various subjects.

Experience in Diversity

Graduation in finance and a management degree from Mumbai. Started his career with Parimal group having diversified business. Began with their pharma division then moved to the chemical business. Then moved over to engineering with Shree Ram Group in Delhi wherein had the opportunity to work with Lala Jagat Ram, which was a great learning experience. Then had a challenging experience in a completely export oriented food & grain business. Then moved to Duncan Goenka group in the corporate strategic growth unit and finally, moved over to Star Paper Mills.

Views on the framework of paper industry

Paper industry is complex both in terms of product range & technology. On surface it looks as a homogeneous industry but as you go in, it’s a heterogeneous industry. In paper industry no two units are comparable unlike in consumer products or other industries like steel, sugar, cement etc. There the products are comparable and have substitutes but here the substitutes are not easily available, so that’s a new learning and an important aspect of the industry.

First hard lesson learnt

In the initial stages of my career the economy was not globalized, product rates were high, and import barriers were present. But suddenly found that there was a turnaround in the government policies, globalization took place and international trade started which impacted all the beautiful planning and projections made on the assumptions, along with mobilization of all the resources. This learning was hard to digest but sweet to swallow.

Pros & Cons of diversified experience

There are both pros and cons of the diversified experience for example the people who have spent 30-35 years in the same industry will have an in-depth knowledge as compared to a person with diversified background. But, the person who is from a diversified background will have an edge of diversified learning’s to deal with varied situations. Diversified background will bring better understanding and learning at the time of transformation, the interaction point which is going on at present. So to bring some different business modal in the paper industry we were the first company in India to start the online booking system five years back.

Experience of revival of Star

In late 90’s, paper industry went through a dull phase. At that time the things got difficult for Star and then the charge was handed over to me. The unit was not performing well because of its high cost base and poor technology. The outsiders thought the survival is very difficult for us and the morale of the people was down. But with good analysis, proper planning, team effort & fine execution ultimately things turned around for us. There were lot of negatives but the brand image had helped us in the market.

Success mantra

To be successful one should be passionate, fortunate and I work with full passion on every task undertaken by me and I am fortunate enough to complete every work successfully. I am very straight in my thinking wherein if something I can’t do I will not go forward but, if something I can work out I’ll do it.

Advice to the paper industry people

Before going for the expansion you must analyze your inner strengths .The industry is going to transform itself at a very fast pace. Already there is a lot of competition but the present scenario will change and sellers market will shift to buyers. Thus all the mills will have to gear up the delivery systems and will have to learn to “first stock & then sell” like all the FMCG industries do. Also I feel that the paper industry will shift to coastal areas from being a inter land based industry, so that the importing raw-material and exporting output to international markets is more viable.

Most Eureka moment of life

When I was in the food and grain business we used to import all of our inputs and export entire production and it was a tough competition at that time. We were the team of 2-3 people and were able to fetch 50% market share globally in the product line where we operated. And, in fact one of our major competitors was forced to close down his plant and become our minority partner.

Expansion at Star Paper Mills

In August last year we had finalized one machine but then due to delay in approval from the board of that mill and the sudden emergence of recession our decision was delayed. But, now the things are on the verge of stabilization so we’ll again start working on the expansion. Moreover the reason that we did not do major expansion was that we first wanted to fix the weaknesses of the company. Later next year we might go for a second hand writing & printing paper machine with a tentative capacity of 120,000 TPA, while the pulping line will be new. The current equipment will then be re-designed to fit into further special grades.

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