Mrs. Poonam Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, PG Paper Company Ltd., shares her views on the Indian paper industry, the future potential of the pulp & paper sector, and the message she wishes to convey to young women who’re looking forward to making their careers.
Try and do your homework before going to the meetings so you have the answers to any questions that are put to you. Respect comes with knowledge!
Paper Mart: Could you present a brief overview of PG Paper Company and its product portfolio along with your day-to-day life in the organisation?
Poonam Gupta: PG Paper Company Ltd. is a global paper trading company with business in 60 countries and offices in 8 countries. We cover almost all different grades of papers that are used and traded. The current global turnover is about INR 600 crore.
PM: Paper is a predominantly male-centric industry. What are the challenges you strive to overcome every day?
PG: Challenges were more prominent during the start-up phase where people didn’t take me seriously due to my age, the fact I am a woman, and PG Paper was a newcomer in the market. It took around five years or so to get the industry’s respect and I would put that down to consistency and hard work.
PM: What are your views on the paper industry in terms of challenges and opportunities?
PG: The market is very volatile at the moment, especially, in the post-COVID period after 2020-21. Costs for manufacturers are still high, unpredictable, and rising. The logistics costs are very uncertain and equipment availability still fluctuates. These are tough market conditions for the entire supply chain. Plus the industry itself is going through a rapid change where sustainability is more important than ever before. The graphical usage is reducing and packaging is on the rise. By next year, there may be some market stability.
PM: Paper mills are generally located in remote areas and considered less lucrative than other sectors. What are your thoughts?
PG: It is all about connectivity in any product and manufacturing. Paper mills need a large amount of freshwater supply and pulp which makes sense in remote areas. However, if the transport connections and networks are good, this doesn’t impact where a manufacturer is located. There can be advantages in the local area for a mill like lower operational costs.
PM: Could you shed some light on the future potential for the pulp & paper industry along with the key trends that are catalysing the growth of the market?
PG: Label and packaging industry is the future with a focus on recyclable and sustainable packaging is where I see the future of the industry. Reducing overall packaging weights, and 100 percent recyclable packaging technologies which may allow for less water consumption can all have a positive impact on the industry. Drawing energy such as heating and electricity through renewable resources and replacement of plastic for paper are all opportunities for the industry.
PM: In brief, tell us about your journey that led you to the paper industry along with your experience.
PG: I was exploring the recycling industry during 2002 which was a much talked about topic at that time. That is what brought me to the paper industry! The aim then was to try and repurpose or recycle the waste that mills were generating as paper standards for manufacturing are very high in western countries.
Also Read: Pioneering Women in the Paper Industry
PM: What would be your message to young women, who would want to follow similar footsteps?
PG: I would say work hard and stay focused. Try and do your homework before going to the meetings so you have the answers to any questions that are put to you. Respect comes with knowledge!