Eminent Panel of Speakers
A large audience of over 600 attended the Seminar-cum-Panel Discussion on “Palanpuris & Diamond Industry: The Way Forward” organized by Palanpur Samaj Kendra and Palanpur Online at the YB Chavan Auditorium in Mumbai on June 23, 2013. The session was addressed by a panel of eminent diamantaires from the community including Russell Mehta, Rajiv Mehta, Parag Shah and Nirav Bhansali, and Nirupa Bhatt, who also moderated the discussion.
The context for the proceedings was set by an in-depth, yet entertaining introduction by Arunbhai Mehta, Chairman, PSK. He briefly traced the history of the last 100 years when the community first entered the industry, elaborating a bit on the challenges when it began diamond manufacturing in an organized way about 50 years ago. He stressed that though the industry was currently facing a difficult period, perhaps the worst ever, it has also come out of other challenging situations in the past.
In her keynote presentation which provided a background to the panel discussion, Nirupa Bhatt, MD, GIA – India & Middle East, focused on the challenges and opportunities that countries, economies and industries face while going through change. She emphasised that the changes within the diamond industry were not unique or different from that faced by other industries. New paths and new directions open out at such times, but advancing forward is dependent on the choices made by the leadership in terms of strategies, systems and people.
Bhatt felt that the spirit of entrepreneurship was a key element in the rise of Palanpuri diamantaires, and expressed the confidence that this would help the community to grow and develop even in the current scenario.
Russell Mehta, Rosy Blue, said that he was confident that the diamond industry had a strong future since love for jewellery is not going to disappear. However, the dynamics of the business had changed, and one needed to find the right direction for growth of each individual company. Each segment has its own requirements and needs special skills, so there was no readymade roadmap to follow. Every company has to chart a proper course, he said, adding that it was essential to introduce professionals at various levels of management. Having the right people in the right places was a very important ingredient for success. The business could still be an attractive option for the next generation, though joining or not was entirely their choice.
Nirav Bhansali, Prism Jewellery, discussed the process through which the company shifted its business model from diamond trading to jewellery manufacturing, stressing that the starting point of any such shift was a “changed mindset”. This new approach should permeate through all aspects of the business so that the change is thorough. He cautioned the audience that such a shift was not without its pain, but a clear plan and a determined leadership could steer the company towards success. Bhansali also pointed out that there was no ready formula, and that each diamond company that was contemplating change, needed to identify what was the proper way for them to go forward.
Parag Shah, K Girdharlal, showed through his experiences that developing the manufacturing side of the diamond business could also be a successful business model. We realized that our goal should be to achieve excellence at the shop floor, which would automatically translate into larger volumes and improved margins. The focus should be on developing skills, people and systems, on building organizations and institutionalizing excellence. If these form the basis of the business, then growth will be achieved over time, even though margins may fall or rise depending on market conditions. He emphasized that in certain categories of stones, even a minute error can lead to a large loss in earnings.
Rajiv Mehta, Dimexon, discussed the need for a dynamic decision making process which was closely based on a deep understanding of the ground realities of the markets. The focus must be on the areas of the business that are currently adding value, and one must have close links with customers and other stake holders at all times. Having a global network was not a prerequisite to success; rather it was making the right decisions at the right moments, which was crucial. A business must achieve efficiency in what it is doing, whether it is big, medium or small, whether it has a domestic focus or is export-oriented, and ‘resource optimisation’ was a must at all times.
The discussion was greatly enriched by the lively Q & A session that followed with members of the audience raising a number of pertinent issues related to the way forward.
Summing up the discussion, Ashish Mehta, Palanpur Online, said, “The diamond business is clearly going through a period of unprecedented challenges and changes. The issues vary across different business models, and there is no magic wand that will help us find solutions. Yet, such interactions and discussions do provoke thought, and may help individual businesses find the right direction for them. We hope to take this endeavour forward, and the details will be worked out depending on the feedback we receive.”
Watch a complete video recording of the Seminar
PART I - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B66KSSMMw6c
PART II - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUiz1xg5Zj8&feature=youtu.be
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