"More players entering India is a positive sign for the country"
DuPont is a global innovation leader with technology-based materials, ingredients and solutions that help transform industries and everyday life. The employees apply diverse science and expertise to help customers advance their best ideas and deliver essential innovations in key markets including electronics, transportation, construction, water, health and wellness, food, and worker safety. DuPont Water Solutions, part of DuPont’s Safety & Construction business, is an industry leader committed to innovation, reliability and customer support. In India, DuPont has grown its footprint to include R&D and Application lab, and Shared Service center in Hyderabad, Corporate office and Innovation Center in Gurgaon, regional office in Mumbai and manufacturing sites at Savli, Sohna, Daman and Madurai. With a growing employee base spread across various locations, DuPont in India is well-positioned to partner with customers to deliver the innovations that matter.
Being an Indian from Water scarce environment to Current position? Your Perception.
Indians are globally famous to be adaptive, resilient and thrive in chaos. We can leverage such strengths to handle the water challenges we are facing as a country and bring various stakeholders to work together and make India water positive by 2030.
Please take us through your journey with DuPont and how do you see the Indian Water Infrastructure sector growing going ahead.
I grew up in a small village in Odisha. After my mechanical engineering and MBA, I joined DuPont in India in 1998. Since then, I have lived in Taiwan, China and currently based in the USA leading DuPont Water Solutions since Jan 1, 2018.
During the last 24 months of my role, every time I see a world water map, India is shown red. I always feel the pain. India is a young country with 1.3 billion people, where water is life.
In my recent visit to India, I met Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) and saw articles in magazines, billboards and had conversations on current water needs. We all acknowledge the challenge and hope to see major changes in coming years. The water infrastructure sector is thus poised for significant growth. But we need to find the right models, technologies and solutions that will work in India for India.
Being the largest membrane seller how does this solve the Indian Water pollutions or hygienic problems?
We are the global technology leader for water treatment & purification. Our mission is to take our global science and provide local solutions. We have the entire portfolio of technologies to customize the right solution and cater needs in different parts of India. Think this way, if water is reasonably clean, we should use ultrafiltration which is very cost effective to make clean water. It may cost less than 1 paisa per liter. If in another place, water is highly contaminated, and we need multiple solutions, we may consider reverse osmosis to make clean water cost effectively. We can truly customize for various sources and quality of feed water to put the right solution that delivers the most value at least life cycle cost.
Do you believe India should have its own standards for Quality for Water treatment products especially membranes?
We have global standards. We should start with them to see; do they meet India’s needs. If not, yes, we could make India-specific standards. China and other countries have adapted their own standards.
During the last decade India has witnessed a number of new entrants in the membrane market. Please share your opinion about this.
More players entering India is a positive sign for the country in terms of market attractiveness and a good thing for customers as they are not dependent on one supplier completely. At the same time, we need standards to ensure we create a level playing field and continuously raise the bar. We recognize this trend globally thus, focus on innovation and value creation for our end users as the means to stay ahead in this game.
What does it mean to be the largest player in the membrane market?
We have big responsibilities to educate and shape the market and behave as a leader. We must continuously innovate to bring new products and new solutions. Of course, we can’t be complacent. We fully recognize, it is challenging to be #1, but even more challenging to stay as #1.
Can you give a brief about your CSR Initiatives to our readers?
Sustainability is core to what we do. We should practice this at home and help others as well. Let me share three examples (a) We changed the reverse osmosis market 30 years ago by introducing dry membranes which eliminated the need of water for wet testing, saving millions of gallons of water at our manufacturing site. (b) We help our customers achieve their sustainability goals with our technologies and solutions for Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD). (c) Contributing to the society with our USAID collaboration for fluoride treatment of water in Kenya to free water treatment systems with Coca-cola in Vietnam and free water for schools for Chengdu in China are some of the many initiatives we have been part of.
Creating awareness among the stakeholders is a serious point in this business. Tell us how you do it.
Yes, can’t agree more. Every year we conduct seminars globally including India, to train the young generation for various industries. We host webinars through an online platform Water Academy hosted on our website and we plan to have 30 such sessions globally on various topics in 2020.
We do use customer testimonials to educate our stakeholders and potential customers. One of the examples is our efforts in a wastewater treatment plant in Tirupur, India to implement ZLD in the textile industry. This needs a multi-prong approach including digital.
Demand & supply is a great challenge in this business – How do you tackle this challenge?
Being a global business, operating across six continents and living in this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world, this is a constant battle for all global companies including us. This unbalance impacts our lead time and customer service level. Strong demand in the last two years has significantly increased our lead time impacting our customer experience adversely. We are working hard to improve this in 2020 and beyond.
Tell us the secret of the phenomenal growth of DuPont in the recent past?
Our strategy is to be the prolific innovator and market shaper in the water technology space to solve global water challenges in purification, conservation and re-use. Aligned to this intent, we must expand our global reach, serve our customers, innovate more and broaden our technology portfolio like we did with our recent acquisitions. We have very capable and passionate team to service locally. Of course, our shareholders expect us to grow to get the continued investment we need in this high capital and high R&D business.
Can used membrane be recycled or else how can it be managed and what plans do you have for it?
Yes, very much. We have an active program to look at end-to-end, raw materials to disposal after usage. We will be happy to share more in future.
Interestingly, recent aggressive acquisitions have created a buzz in the market. How do you see this?
All the four acquisitions are absolutely aligned to our long-term strategic intent. Addition of Inge, Memcor, Desalitech and OxyMem has expanded our portfolio giving us more tools in our tool kit to solve our customer challenges better and more cost effectively.
Do you have any manufacturing plans for India in your road map?
India is a very strategic market for us. We are committed to India. We have set up an R&D center at Hyderabad and have a local team that works closely with customers. We have big aspirations for us in India. Yes, we do have some ideas for our Desalitech acquisition which can be a great solution in India because of its high recovery, lower opex and easier-to-operate functionality. As that picks up and gains critical mass, we will have an opportunity to look at local manufacturing.