Guest Lecture By Ms Alka Shukla, Director – National Ventures Juices, The Coca-Cola Company
On October 4th 2018, the Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur had the opportunity of hosting Ms Alka Shukla – Director, National Ventures Juices at The Coca-Cola Company for delivering a talk on “Sustainable Life” as a part of our flagship guest lecture series – ‘Vaarta’. Ms Alka Shukla is an industry veteran with a prominent work experience with corporate biggies such as P&G and The Coca-Cola Company. In a career stretching for over 15 years, she has shouldered diverse responsibilities and managed key products for the two companies.
Besides a stellar professional life, in her leisure, Ms Shukla dedicated herself to the noble cause of uplifting some of the less fortunate people across the country. With an active involvement in social work, she has achieved commendable success in areas of sustainable farming, improving the quality of soil, and increasing the livelihood of the people dependent on farming by providing them with a feasible business model.
Setting the agenda for discussion Ms Alka Shukla started the lecture with a glimpse of her life thus far. Sharing her life’s goal with the students, she said that it was always fulfilling to give back to society more than what one takes from it – a position that The Coca-Cola Company has maintained. Extending on the belief, she elaborated by sharing plans drafted and implemented by the company that are bearing fruits of success. Taking along all the stakeholders and engaging them in a mutually beneficial relationship is a time-tested model. Her insights on the state of farming in India and the livelihood of the people involved proved to be an eye opener for the batch.
She backed the prophetic claim with statistics on oranges, apples, tomatoes & mangoes. Both India and Brazil are the world leaders in orange exports in the world, yet less than 2.2% of the country’s produce gets processed, which in turn forces companies to import from Brazil even though the country is producing a surplus. A solution to this complex problem seems achievable soon as The Coca-Cola Company readies a feasible business model. As the Indian consumer gets more health conscious with each generation, companies in this sector carry the onus of reinventing themselves in quick time. The Coca-Cola Company plans to address the challenges it faces in food processing by creating a circular economy for food. The company is reinventing the methods of farming to yield better produce by stressing on better quality, quantity and connecting the markets for better logistics.
Ms Alka Shukla explained the challenges faced by the country today while concluding her fast-paced, highly engaging session. Challenges such as low per-capita yield from farmland, small land holdings, poor supply chain management, water crisis and high waste generation have plagued the sector for a long time and continue to do so. Unless addressed intelligently and with a sense of urgency, India might face an imminent threat. Ms Alka encouraged the future leaders in the audience to be resourceful, innovative & forthcoming to solve these concerns.
Finally, wishing the students a bright future ahead, Ms Alka Shukla left the batch to ponder on the insightful session that it witnessed.