IN CONVERSATION: An Interview with Amit Saha

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Amit Saha, Chief Sustainability Officer, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages

 

 
 

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By: Amit Bansal, Head of Global Sourcing Council India Chapter in Mumbai; CEO and Founder of Mitra Group and Mitra Capital

 

 

IN CONVERSATION, a monthly profile of people actively engaged in sourcing, talks with Amit Saha, Chief Sustainability Officer of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB).

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) has been a front runner in promoting sustainability and social upliftment thorough various programs in India.  One example is their recycling of PET bottles waste into garments. Click to read August 4, 2014 news article: http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/apparel-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=166591

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Bansal (Q): Sustainability has so many different meanings.  How do you define sustainability at Coca Cola, and specifically at Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages?

Saha (A):  For Coca Cola the entire Sustainability Journey is envisioned in our Vision 2020 plan around ME – WE – WORLD framework which is Me (Active living), We (Being a good social and corporate citizen) and World (Giving back to the environment). The framework is as follows and has clear directional elements:

Coke HCCB Graphic
Bansal (Q): What are the specific aspects of Sustainability in India?  How do you set up goals for India?

Saha (A): For India we follow the same framework. However, some elements like social, water, packaging etc take a priority. The things that we are doing in our communities and environment are more fully described in a presentation that I did recently at Coke HQ in the U.S. Click below:

HCCB Town Hall_Saha PPT 1
Bansal (Q):
How do you measure the success of your sustainability programs? 

Saha (A): Success is measured by taking feedback form stakeholders. Clear GAP analysis has been done against GRI G4 and we are working to close the same with actions. We have multiple stakeholder and industry conferences and get a lot of feedback on how are we doing before any social, community level program is initiated – its checked if it fits the framework of our “model village “ which has health, sanitation, drinking water and career development amongst youth from villages as priority.

There is SNA (social need analysis) that is also undertaken for determining which intervention would work and with which partner (a NGO who comes in from the very beginning). Our “water positive” goal means we replenish every drop of water that we use in beverage and the production of it for the whole of India.  

Bansal (Q): A somewhat personal question: How did the role of the Head of Sustainability at Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages come about?  What was your personal journey to this position?

Saha (A): India is amongst very few of the Coke countries which felt the need for a CSO position. The idea being to put our energies in the future for the long-term. Renewables, recyclables, model village programs, drinking water for all, supporting schools with toilet facilities specifically for girls, and supporting water replenishment. Thus contributing to India’s ability to have more ground water etc.

Most of these activities are finding a match with the new government initiatives. We need to work on present current risks and opportunities. However, we need to be in strategic position to take Coke in India to be recognised as Industry Sustainability Leader in the eyes of our stakeholders. My CEO, T. Krishna Kumar, wanted me to take this up and prepare the organisation towards 2020 – where we would be the largest FMCG in the country.

Coke in India has 7 years of continuous double-digit growth and will become one of the top five markets for Coke worldwide very soon. It needs to be working towards the most responsible, caring and environmentally friendly company in India – and not just a growth engine for Coke worldwide- for long-term sustainability of Coke, its India operations and India as country. With this background I was given the opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands!

For more information on HCCB’s sustainability initiatives, click: www.coca-colaindia.com/sustainability/sustainability.html

About Amit Saha: Amit is Chief Sustainability Officer, Hindustan Cola-Cola Beverages (HCCB) where he has been engaged for 15 years, bringing a diverse range of skills to HCCB’s sustainability charter.

Amit has 25 years experience in the automobile, FMCG and food sectors, including companies such as Eicher and Gillette. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA.

About the Author: Amit Bansal is Founder and CEO of Mitra Group and Mitra Capital. He is also the Head of the Global Sourcing Council India Chapter in Mumbai.

Amit has worked at ABN Amro Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland in New York, and Jaypee International Inc. He is also a Director at North India’s leading publishing company Sahitya Bhawan Publishers and Distributors Private Limited, a Special Consultant on India at Transcarbon International (a firm assisting the private sector, the public sector, the voluntary sector, and civil society in implementing sustainable development practices).

Mitra Group is a diversified company with interests in Education, Financial Services, Healthcare and Information Technology.

Mitra Capital is a boutique investment banking firm specializing in Financial & Strategic Advisory, Cross-border Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Banking (domestic and International) to both public and private companies. The firm also specializes in raising capital for start-ups and SME’s.

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