Women in business - and how they have secured a higher profile with their work ethics - The Noel DCunha Sunday Column

One of the best kept secrets is how women are at the heart of the print-packaging-publishing industry. In the second part of the Women to Watch series, the Sunday Column highlights seven women in sales and marketing who have empowered their teams to do top-quality work and accelerate growth. Read on...

17 Feb 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

Anushree Kaswala, manager for sales and marketing at Letra Graphix, Ahmedabad

She is a civil engineer who realised her true vocation was sales and marketing. For six years, Anushree Kaswala experimented with work in different industries such as recruitment, real estate, and engineering services before settling in the print industry.

Kaswala says, "I am a very inquisitive person and a good learner, and so, I was pleasantly surprised to know how great the print world is. She adds, “I realised that the labels we see on our day-to-day products are not just a label. There is a lot of engineering and science; creativity and aesthetics; and innovation that goes into it.”

Over the last couple of years at Letra, Kaswala has grown professionally but has also gained as a person. “I owe it to the management who have shown immense confidence in me that I can do what I, at some point in time, thought I could not do,” says Kaswala. “I have seen brands develop from ground zero, and there is a lot that goes behind building a brand, and this fascinates me the most. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.”

On the sales front, Kaswala’s sales role ability has been "above par" in 2023. Her networking ability enabled Letra to convert 70% of sales pitches to confirmed orders. Kaswala also brought a maximum number of new clients to Letra’s fold, a whopping 80%.

Letra has three Gallus flexo presses and one hybrid press. “I know what our machine technology is capable of doing, and that’s how I am able to sell the best possible outcome in labels,” says Kaswala, who is especially gung-ho about the new Gallus Labelfire hybrid press that has been installed at Letra. “There is a lot of change that we can bring about in the label industry, and since it is first in India, it is going to be interesting to learn and educate people within the industry about the wonders the technology can do.”

Dhwani Bhootwala, chief marketing officer, Creofoil

A graphic designer turned restaurateur, Dhwani Bhootwala joined her husband, Piyush’s business as the chief marketing officer. The year: 2022.

Drawing from her entrepreneurial background and experience as a restaurant owner for more than four years, Bhootwala has honed the skills necessary to lead and motivate others, ensuring that the marketing team's efforts are aligned with the company's goals.

Bhootwala has numerous achievements under her belt. Among these is the Woman Entrepreneur Award she received in 2014 for her exemplary entrepreneurial performance and leadership. Despite taking a seven-year hiatus, she managed to seamlessly re-enter the workforce, making a significant impact at Creofoil.

Bhootwala has played a key role in refining Creofoil's products and services. Her dedication to addressing customer concerns from installation to the machines' running phase has increased customer satisfaction, enhancing Creofoil's reputation. The company has notched 37 installations to date.

"My experience in the printing industry, specially screen printing machines, offset printing, and all related lines of machines, has allowed me to bring a realistic and effective perspective to the marketing team, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the world of art and marketing,” says Bhootwala.

Ketki Sute, senior manager for sales and marketing, Jupiter Laminator

From a banker to senior manager for sales and marketing in the flexible packaging industry, Ketki Sute says, it has really been a wonderful journey. “I have learnt many things from it.”

Sute’s profile gets her involved with all the departments – pre-press, cylinders, PPC, purchase, packing, dispatch, and finance. “Without the support of these departments, I don’t think I will be able to service my customer.”

In 2022-23, Jupiter’s sales grew from 100-MT to 700-MT. To gain that kind of success, Sute says, one has to depend on approachability with his/her contacts with the industry and vice-versa.  “For the growth of any business, connects and relationships are the two important pillars for building trust and credibility in the market.”

During Covid, Sute ensured that she made regular visits to the factory, ensuring Jupiter’s customers get the best possible services and updates. “It was a difficult period, and there were limitations. But we have always ensured delivery on time and earned the trust of our customers.”

Today, Jupiter is working with brands to create a plastic-free/eco-friendly environment. Sute is part of that project too. “I am involved with the R&D and the plant teams in my pursuit to get the products validated so that we can commercialise it as soon as possible,” says Sute. Also, she is working on Jupiter’s project to develop alternate structures to give commercial/yield benefits to the customer without changing their current packing lines.

Sute believes packaging has a buoyant future. “I am looking forward to new business, innovation and new technologies with 100% customer satisfaction.”

HS Rohini, key accounts manager at Manjushree Technopack (MTL)

Rohini has had 13+ successful years at MTL. She has risen from the ranks of a customer service role to a key accounts manager who handles MTL’s most important customers.

Ashutosh Tripathi, head of pre-forms at Manjushree Technopack (MTL), says Rohini’s exceptional work ethic, passion towards excellence and customer service led her to become one of the highest achieving key account managers in MTL across all verticals.

Rohini’s achievements are a marquee. She was instrumental in the launch of the all-new 26/22 neck in 2023. MTL was the first converter in India to launch 26/22 pre-forms. “This was a major transition from the existing 1881 neck, which saves more than two gm per bottle for the bottler,” says Rohini, who, along with the MTL technical team, helmed this ops, and created a success story for the beverage industry. 

Further, Rohini overachieved her targets in 2022-23 by 900MT in pre-forms. Currently, Rohini is handling four key accounts, which are some of MTL’s most important customers.

Rohini’s objectives are straightforward. She wants to go up the ladder and continue to be the change bringer and the challenger of status quo, she is. “I want to continue to be the inspiration for other young women who want to join the industry.”

Shreya Choudhury, director for sales at CDC Printers

CDC Printers bagged 27 NAEP Awards on 8 February. What many don't know is how the Kolkata-based relies solely on repeat sales from existing customers.

In 2022, it did not have any marketing strategy in place. “We did not have any sales personnel to influence customers' decisions, and we only catered to the requirements of our existing clients. This approach worked well until the outbreak of Covid-19, which resulted in a significant drop in commercial sales,” says Shreya Choudhury, director for sales at CDC Printers. “It became evident that waiting for orders from existing customers would not suffice, and we needed to implement a sales strategy to generate growth for the company.”

CDC focused on a new business development (NBD) plan, which it thought was the only way for growth. CDC created two new positions in our company - sales coordinator and customer relationship manager (CRM) - to free our sales team from non-sales tasks and enable them to focus solely on generating new business. The sales coordinator handled order taking, while the CRM managed post-order activities such as customer service, delivery, billing, and collection. “We also introduced a WhatsApp messaging system to keep customers informed about order updates.”

To generate new leads, CDC used digital marketing strategies such as Google ads and LinkedIn marketing. The company focused on building trust and credibility with potential customers by creating explainer videos that highlighted their pain points and offered solutions. "This approach caught the customer's attention, leading to an increase in enquiries," says Choudhury.

As a result, the percentage of new business development (NBD) to total sales increased from 2-3% historically to 23% in just eight months. This was a significant achievement for Choudhury and the company.

Choudhury also plans to apply the same NBD plan to packaging sales, publishing and export sales. One reason why the company swept the PrintWeek Awards in 2023 with a whopping count of four Prisms.

Shreya Mardia, executive director and marketing head of Unique Tags

Shreya Mardia, executive director and marketing head of Unique Tags has been at the forefront of all new product development and expansion in order to present Unique as a one-stop-shop for all branding trims. She has played a crucial role in building the marketing prowess of the company by bringing in the best of talent with vast experience in the industry across the country.

In 2017, Mardia ensured that Avery Dennison gained confidence in Unique by revamping the infrastructure and making it suitable for international requirements.

Mardia has built Unique’s on field sales team across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Tirupur since 2017. She has been able to recruit, train and motivate and manage the national sales teams such that there has been a three-fold growth in the company’s topline, from Rs 18-crore in 2017 to over Rs 55-crore in 2023.

Mardia has also been the face of the company’s marketing efforts in ensuring national nominations for brands like USPA (Arvind), Roadster, HRX, House of Pataudi (Myntra), Landmark Group, Twills, Fabindia, and Van Heusen (Aditya Birla), among others.

Mardia introduced a new performance-based pay model at Unique, which is now being implemented in the trims industry. “The incentive structures have been very successful in improving the productivity of all field representatives and are among the first of their kind. As a result, the overall turnover has grown by more than three times,” says Mardia, whose goal is to achieve a turnover of Rs 100-crores this year, and to expand further into the paper printed trims segment.

Tania Hansoti, director for marketing at S Kumar Multiproducts

Before becoming the director for marketing, Tania Hansoti, director for marketing at S Kumar Multiproducts had a four-year stint in the advertising industry at DDB Mudra Group where she worked as a strategic planner. In 2020, she forayed into the world of packaging (an industry she knew nothing about). The company she joined was managed by her father-in-law, Manish Hansoti, and husband, Aarjav. “It was a natural transition when they introduced the first of its kind Screen digital UV inkjet press in the Indian market."

Hansoti says while packaging and advertising are as different as chalk and cheese, there were a few learnings from my experience in the latter which I could implement here. “To sell anything, you need to know it well inside out by studying the category in depth, how to design a seamless customer experience, and there is no substitute for good service.”

She had three tasks on hand: capturing market share and increasing sales value, growing the customer base, and introducing the ‘no MOQ’ model. Hansoti deployed cold calling, created a database of new-age brands from e-commerce portals, struck conversations directly with founders of the start-ups, and used social media – Instagram and Facebook pages to reach out to businesses across India.

There were challenges but the outcome far outweighed them.

In four years time, S Kumar's business grew from five to six jobs per day on the digital machine to 30 to 40 jobs and the machine running in double shifts. In terms of value, the monthly contribution to sales has reached Rs 40- to Rs 50-lakh, amounting to 25% of the company's monthly sales. S Kumar’s geographical presence from just Gujarat to 25+ cities nationally.

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