Ashok Leyland Limited: Building Competitive Advantage through Generational Diversity
“Future is always in the present; it is lurking somewhere and has the tendency to show up in a manner that is not foreseen by everybody”1
“We realised that it was important for us to challenge the young executives at work and through that reinforce the reasons for them to stay on. If the organization had to change to suit the youth, so be it.”2
-- R. Seshasayee, Non-Executive Vice Chairman of the Board and Ex-MD, Ashok Leyland Ltd.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, Ashok Leyland Limited (ALL), India’s second largest manufacturer of trucks and buses, had been setting itself in a new course to compete and be at par with global standards. Till 1991, ALL was operating in a duopolistic market. Later, the Indian Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCV) market became more competitive with the opening up of the Indian economy and ALL realized the need to be agile and stay relevant. The company figured that it could only become agile by turning itself young and began recruiting younger workforce. By 2003-2004, the company had 37% of young executives in its management. However, the attrition levels among these young executives increased as they felt left out due to the culture and generation gap that existed between them and the senior executives.
The company HR then took initiatives that empowered the millennial workforce and ensured their participation in crucial projects. The company also promised their growth within the company. With younger employees gaining importance, the company now saw a reversal of the problem – the senior executives now felt left out. The company then roped them as mentors to the young executives. Though these initiatives have broken the ice between the young and senior executives, the promise of growth for millennials within the company still remains to be addressed. The adverse market conditions and the cost cutting measures of the company in the recent years made ALL’s promise even more challenging..............
- 1 R. Seshasayee, “Advantage India”, Vikalpa, Volume 32, No. 2, April–June 2007
- 2 N. Madhavan, “Ashok Leyland Threatened by Generation Gap Among its Executives”, http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/experiencevs-exuberance/1/4918.html, November 29th 2009