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IT can empower managers: Sunil Lalbhai

Sneha Jha | July 16, 2014
Sunil Lalbhai, CMD, Atul, and his team are endeavoring to uphold the tradition of conducting business with a "vision beyond self". Lalbhai was named one of the top 100 CEOs of India by BT-PWC India in 2014 and was felicitated by SBI for his entrepreneurship in 2014.

CIO: But a focus on business outcome-based IT could create a bias only for projects with hard ROI.

Sunil Lalbhai: As one of the first companies of independent India, Atul has survived the test of time, and this meant undertaking not only those projects which have ROI, but also those without (ROI). For example, we have made IT-related investments to support functions such as audit, legal and personnel, which may apparently seem without ROI, but such projects enhance transparency, speed and clarity which in turn improve performance.

CIO: As IT gets more strategic, will IT vision be driven increasingly by lines of business — rather than IT?

Sunil Lalbhai: It may not help to have a vision of Atul IT that is independent of the different Atul businesses. IT is a powerful aid that helps businesses like never before; it enhances speed, accuracy, efficiency and productivity. The endeavor of Atul IT, in addition, will be support the common functions which cut across the businesses or the company. Atul is considering leveraging the resources and experience of its IT unit and undertake projects for other companies; though this initiative is still at its incipient stage, a company named Atul Infotech has already been formed.

CIO: What is next for Atul?

Sunil Lalbhai: The size of world chemical industry is estimated at US$4.1 trillion, growing at 2.5 percent. The first five countries, in terms of size of their chemical industry, are China (US$1340 billion), the USA (US$598 billion), Japan (US$225 billion), Germany (US$211 billion) and South Korea (US$163 billion). India (US$108 billion) comes only at number six. These facts mirror the possibilities of our times, and we at Atul will grow our company bigger and better and persevere in our own small way to reclaim a promising future for India.

My colleagues and I are working to make Atul a leading diversified Indian company operating world-wide. More importantly, we will like Atul to be a responsible company that is focused in a balanced way towards all its stakeholders, be it customers, employees, society or shareholders. In essence, we, as the people of Atul, have the most onerous of responsibilities: To expand and diversify business footprints, but also nurture his legacy and follow his figurative footsteps. We will endeavor to achieve this in full measure. These are our times and obligations.


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