India: Dupont is not a large brand in the country

Date: 14 March 2007
Source: Business Standard
Uma Chaudary has been with Dupont US almost as long as the company has had operations in India. Her 30-year association with the science company began back in 1977 when she joined as a research scientist.

Now the senior vice president and chief technology officer, Chaudary was in India recently to announce Dupont’s plants to invest Rs 100 crore to set up a research centre in Hyderabad that will accommodate more than 300 scientists. It is a project close to her heart and Chaudary spoke at length on its implications as well as India’s importance in Dupont’s global strategy. 

 Why is India important for Dupont? 

 At Dupont, as a strategy we believe in going where the growth is. This works in two ways. We are referring to fast growing markets like India and China.

On the other hand, we are also going to newer areas of science and technology where there is maximum innovation. We look at virgin markets where our strength in science gives us a unique advantage over competition.

Also, India is interesting because it has a large and attractive talent pool. Setting up a research centre here gives us a timing advantage, It shall mean that Dupont as a company can now do research 24x7. Besides, in the past five years, our Indian operations have grown at 25 per cent CAGR to touch Rs 1,700 crore, All this makes India extremely interesting for us. 

 Is India just an outsourcing and R&D destination, in that case?

India is definitely not an outsourcing destination. The employees working from here will be part of Dupont’s global research team. Their work is crucial to Dupont’s global research. That apart, research here will also focus on our products for India.

We have technology in the construction sector that is very innovative. As multinationals come into India, they will insist on measures and technology that is not present in India right now. Supplying this technology is another opportunity for us. We see such waiting opportunities for our products in most sectors in which we operate.

Your association with India goes back to 1802. But Dupont is still not widely recognised in India.

We did not come to India in 1802: we only imported saltpeter from here back then. We came here in 1970 but, yes, we are not a big brand because we have never advertised in a big way. We are largely into B2B operations and never advertise in B2C mediums.

But that is about to change now. Since we are now going down the value chain and reaching out to customers, we will now advertise. This year, our ad spends are likely to increase by 100 per cent.

What is the role of technology in a company’s growth strategy?

Technology? It’s in our DNA. We are not into making computers, the Internet or IT. We use science in a way that it helps our customers grow. Our research focuses on two aspects: in emerging markets, we try to find newer uses for our existing applications; and in developed markets, we are working on energy and renewable resources.

For instance, Tata Steel is a client for whom we are creating a safety model. If a person gets injured in its factory, Tata Steel does not suffer from just productivity loss. There could be union problems, public embarrassment and loss of reputation.

On the other hand, we have proved that every dollar spent on safety gets a return on investment that is anywhere between $3 and $5, depending on the industry concerned. Our science makes a difference to our clients.

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