We Are Not Afraid To Take Risks; Draw Energy From Innovative Concepts: Nadia Chauhan, Parle Agro

Our appetite for innovation, disruption and risk is evident in our history of launching products way ahead of their time, she adds

A leader who pillars her strength in envisioning long-term successes and driving transformative initiatives to achieve this vision, Parle Agro's joint managing director, Nadia Chauhan, is a formidable force who drove the brand from INR 300 crore in 2003 to over INR 8500 crore today. Not only that but her determination and perseverance have helped swell the product portfolio extensively, making it a multi-category, multi-brand beverage giant that we all know.

Chauhan joined the brand in 2003 and worked on Frooti, which at that point was almost 90 per cent of their business. Eventually, she worked her way up, took on the role of heading the marketing and sales division, began leading the R&D department and then established an entire business strategy department. 

The Mighty Moves

Reminiscing some of the most pivotal milestones, Chauhan talks about the launch of Appy Fizz in 2005, the relaunch of Frooti in 2005, and then again in 2015. "In 2005, changing Frooti’s iconic green packaging to yellow was a disruptive move that resulted in a big win for the brand. It helped transform Frooti from a children’s drink to a youth-oriented brand, boosting sales. In 2015, we re-launched the brand with a new identity, from packaging to advertising, resulting in a significant market share increase."

Another key moment for the brand was its entry into the dairy industry in 2021, fulfilling its ambition to venture into and build the dairy beverage industry in India. The brand introduced Smoodh, catering to the mass Indian market and contributing to significant growth in the dairy-based beverage category.

Chauhan believes that her team has constantly stepped out of its comfort zone and taken calculated risks that align with the brand's overall growth vision.

A Growth-oriented Vision

To lead with an example, Chauhan has always bet big on innovation, collaboration and exuding an entrepreneurial spirit. For her, innovation is not just encouraged, but as a future-oriented company, it is ingrained in their culture. "It is what drives us forward, inspiring us to introduce unique and groundbreaking products and not just another 'me too’ product," she says.

In terms of collaboration, it is at the heart of what the brand does. It's about working together, embracing diverse perspectives and keeping communication open. "The shared vision for Parle Agro isn't just amongst the owners; the vision and passion are owned by our people. Empowering them and nurturing passion in them is part of our culture," she points out.

"We also have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We are ambitious, aggressive and celebrate innovative thinking. Our appetite for innovation, disruption and risk is evident in our history of launching products way ahead of their time," she adds.

As a company, Parle Agro ensures that its people deeply understand and value its journey, so they play a significant role in envisioning the future. The company steers clear of 'me-too' approaches, whether in concept, execution or product development. "Our plans don't start with observing what others are doing; they begin with a clear vision of what we aim to achieve and the unique ways in which we will achieve it," asserts Chauhan.

Empowerment Through Encouragement

A company with three brave women at the centre stage takes pride in being a workplace free from gender bias. The culture within the company enables all employees to reach their full potential and the management continuously works towards creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture. "One key factor is time balance; we start at 8.30 am and end at 5.30 pm, allowing our employees to strike a healthy balance between work and home. Those precious hours at home enable them to address work, family needs or pursue personal hobbies and passions," comments Chauhan.

For young women aspiring to hop on to leadership roles, Chauhan advises them to stay committed. "Be fiercely determined and passionate about achieving your goals and be willing to go that extra mile to make things happen. You have to be open-minded and at the same time have a strong ability to take risks."

"No good leader has achieved anything without having the courage to take some big leaps and risks. One has to believe that anything you set your mind to will happen and you have got to make it happen", sums Chauhan.

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