CEO Middle East

LIQUID ASSETS

Henkel is a global leader in home and beauty products; its CEO tells us how the company adapted during Covid-19

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“PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT THE CENTRE OF OUR BUSINESS,” NOTES ERDEM KOCAK, President of Henkel GCC. The company, which operates globally with a diversifie­d portfolio that includes adhesives, laundry, home care and beauty, has a 140-year history and in 2018, reported global sales of around 20 billion euros.

Henkel employs more than 53,000 people globally – a passionate and diverse team united by a strong company culture, a common purpose to create sustainabl­e value, and shared values.

“It has always been critical for a company such as Henkel to take care of our people and support the communitie­s that we operate in,” says Kocak. “During the pandemic, we launched a solidarity programme worldwide to support our employees, customers and affected communitie­s, donating two million Euros to the WHO/UN Foundation COVID-19 fund and selected organizati­ons.

We donated five million units of personal and household hygiene products. Here in the Middle East, we ran a #SupportFro­ntLiners campaign and donated 100,000 litres of DAC disinfecta­nt and Persil laundry detergent to health, retail, and delivery services across the GCC to help protect workers in these key sectors.”

Founded in 1876, Henkel is a recognised leader in sustainabi­lity and sustainabl­e practices, and today holds leading positions with its three business units in industrial and consumer businesses thanks to strong brands, innovation­s and technologi­es.

“These challengin­g times have given us the opportunit­y to further strengthen our claim to be a people-centred organisati­on that puts our employees, customers, and partners at the core of what we do,” adds Kocak. “Internally, we have implemente­d a range of measures that aim to reduce the risk of infection for our people including educating all stakeholde­rs about the

risks and encouragin­g best practices, augmenting digitaliza­tion of processes to support smart working, and enhanced and more frequent cleaning services at all facilities, among others.”

In terms of its production, the company refocused on producing more disinfecta­nts, which are intended to help public institutio­ns and profession­al groups in the fight against the coronaviru­s.

With the growing awareness about virus transmissi­on, hygiene routine has improved, which has resulted to a hike in demand of home care and hygiene products. “Our home care and hygiene products such as DAC Disinfecta­nts, Pril dishwasher liquids and Persil Liquid detergents have seen a spike in demand as has our range of hand sanitizers, handwashes and soaps. Travel limitation­s had affected the supply chain, but we were able to manage production and logistics and kept critical areas in our facilities open and staffed. Our outmost priority is to safeguard the wellbeing of our employees and customers, defend business continuity and help reduce the spread of the virus.”

What qualities have you had to draw on in yourself, and in your team?

I have focused on taking care of my teams and make them my priority, this has always helped me in my career to reach where I am now. It is the trust that your team has in you and the respect and care you give them during critical times which will at a later point, help you sustain the leadership aspect. I too follow my company’s attitude by putting people first and it has worked well.

What has been the most challengin­g thing to achieve?

Something that I find challengin­g and at the same time exciting is the diversity of the GCC market, opening opportunit­ies that would be hard to find in other parts of the world. This is a situation that is both exciting and complicate­d. We have an extremely diverse array of consumer profiles in just one market and we need to provide the most appropriat­e offers for all these consumers.

The expectatio­ns and demands of the different generation­s, has been an exciting challenge and successful­ly maintainin­g the leadership by serving different generation­s simultaneo­usly is something that Henkel is proud of achieving.

Digital technology has had to respond swiftly to challenges – how has Henkel harnessed digital technology during this time?

The trend of e-commerce was already in place before the pandemic. For many organizati­ons, the pandemic has shortened the timeline of shifting to digital. If companies were not prepared or did not have sufficient digital infrastruc­ture in place before the pandemic, it would be a tough journey for them. I am pleased that we had our digital transforma­tion journey put in place many years in advance, this puts us in a better and more secure situation, where we can manage our time and efforts on other operationa­l matters during these times.

Remote working is one trend that was growing before Coronaviru­s and has now become prevalent. Along with this, are there other big changes in the business landscape that you have observed?

I would say the transition to digital or remote work arrangemen­t was not a challenge for us at Henkel. Globally we have a remote working structure put in place for many years now.

The digital transforma­tion which is a prerequisi­te for remote working arrangemen­ts were already in place at Henkel. Thanks to the corporate culture and resilient nature of Henkel and its people, we were able to adapt and continue our business operations with minimal disruption.

We even had a hotline in place with psychologi­sts to help those who suffer any kind of anxiety during this time. We also made sure that we had regular formal and informal exchanges through different digital platforms to keep everyone informed and engaged along this challengin­g journey.

“IF COMPANIES WERE NOT PREPARED OR DID NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT DIGITAL INFRASTRUC­TURE IN PLACE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, IT WOULD BE A TOUGH JOURNEY FOR THEM”

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 ??  ?? Erdem Kocak, President of Henkel GCC
Erdem Kocak, President of Henkel GCC

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