“Success is sweeter, shared.”
How participative management is shaping Etika Holdings
Khalid Alvi has a diverse set of business leaders whom he looks up to, including Steve Jobs, Jack Welsh, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and Lee Iacocca, but his biggest role model has been a father who taught him that although there is no short cut shortcut in life, it was still important to have compassion for others while working hard with fairness and empathy.
This has formed the Pakistan-born, American-educated CEO’s creation and promotion of what he calls participative management, where he, as key enabler, maintains focus and drive while bringing people of different skills together. “I am of the belief that this has made a difference to both employees and stakeholders, and I consider this one of my successes,” says the charismatic business leader.
In the competitive beverage manufacturing and distribution industry, Etika Holdings, one of Malaysia’s leading beverage manufacturers and distributors, competes against both international and regional players, across both Ready To Drink (RTD) and Non-Ready To Drink (NRTD) segments. With Khalid’s hand on the tiller, the beverage giant – the only fully integrated Halal beverage company to offer all categories of beverages to the Malaysian market across 18 brands – has capitalized on its speed to market, nimble structure for quick and effective decision making, and a blend of the Western way of doing business via its Pepsi-Co partnership, underpinned by the unique Japanese business heritage of its parent company, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd (Asahi Japan).
Under Khalid’s leadership, Etika has won Asia’s Best Employer Brand Award, Excellent Employer Award, Excellence in Learning and Development and Excellence in HR Change Management, all within 2019, and most recently, Best HR Strategy in Line with Business. “People are close to my heart. Whenever there are talent issues, depending on the nature of the issue, I will ensure I address the issue and get involved quite actively, because I believe a CEO’s main role is managing talents with help from a well-grounded Human Resources department. This CEO-HR partnership ensures company objectives are met,” opines the Marketing and Finance MBA holder.
Khalid also believes leadership has progressed from hierarchical and authoritarian models into collective, participative leadership where one plus one is equal to three. “In today’s thriving workplace, it is very likely for a leader to come across someone who is more capable in their own field working under him. If a participative management style is not optimised, there is a high probability for the intelligence and wisdom existing in the organization to be overlooked. In an authoritative management environment, a leader will not be able to deploy the collective knowledge and capability that exists in the organization and its people,” he asserts.
In a nod to greater market coverage, Etika has also acquired Atlas Vending, one of the largest independent vending solutions providers in Singapore and Malaysia. This has immediately propelled Etika to become the number one player in the vending business with around 10,000 vending machines across Malaysia; the better to distribute PepsiCo’s global brands such as Pepsi, Sting, Evervess, Mirinda, 7Up, Revive Isotonic, Gatorade, Lipton Ice Tea, Mountain Dew, and Tropicana. The company also manufactures, distributes and markets WONDA Coffee and Calpis, as well as Etika’s own range of beverages such as Chill Asian Drinks, Bleu Water, Kickapoo, Goodday Milk and Dairy Champ.
Wonda remains the fastest growing RTD coffee brand for the sixth consecutive year, growing at twice the category growth rate, which has spurred Etika to enter the 3-in-1 coffee business, and subsequently become one of the top five brands in a particular key retail giant.
“A top executive who is able to bring people with different skills sets and experience together to contribute to workplace policies and decisions in line with a corporation’s business goals is one who is able to make a difference to both employees and stakeholders. Khalid is such a man.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group