NAIROBI: “In 2006, I was named the Manager of the Year and my life changed from there,” remembers Sanjay Brahambatt, managing director of East Africa’s largest plastics manufacturer - Blowplast Group.
After participating in the Kenya Institute of Management’s (KIM) Company of the Year awards for five years without success, Blowplast was finally recognised when its then finance manager, Sanjay, was declared Manager of the Year. This was his life’s turning point. Two months after being awarded, Sanjay was promoted to the position of chief executive officer.
Ever since, it has been a story of growth from one glory to the next for Sanjay and the company. For instance, he was recently promoted to the position of group managing director of the company that has four subsidiaries, while Blowplast has managed to double its business within two-and-a-half years ahead of a four-year target.
Within six years, Blowplast has acquired three additional companies and is in the process of setting up mini-factories in Uganda and Madagascar. It is also putting up a new factory in Kitengela. “We have become of the largest companies in Africa now,” Sanjay says proudly, attributing this growth to the adoption of the Operation Performance Index (OPI) excellence model.
For him, OPI has helped the company to achieve and sustain superior levels of performance that exceed the expectations of the markets. OPI is an excellence model that generates a rating between 1 and 10, which sets a minimum score that an organisation must attain to remain competitive.
According to Sultan Amri, the chairman of the OPI Technical Committee, OPI helps companies to bring enhanced innovation of idea generation, better customer satisfaction and organisational growth, especially in the number of employees, increased employee satisfaction as well as improved efficiency. It also leads to greater product reliability and increased brand visibility.
“OPI is very inquisitive, it is not based on theory,” said Amri during the annual OPI Business Excellence Conference at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi last week. The business improvement-oriented conference is designed to showcase leading business practitioners and organisations providing a platform for learning and inspiration.
OPI was developed in response to feedback from organisations participating in the Company of the Year Award (COYA) and SME of the Year Award (SMOYA), who called on KIM to refine the assessment methodology in order to emphasise the relationship between instilling smart business processes and generating strong business results.
A research conducted over an 11-year period in the UK showed that the companies awarded had higher sales, higher number of employees, higher return on assets and sales as opposed to controlled firms. In Kenya, the study showed that an award scheme greatly improved business performance between 2010 and 2014 in the areas of strategy execution, staff satisfaction, website availability, customer satisfaction as well as resources utilisation.
“Excellence is a journey, it is not a destination,” he declares confidently. These thoughts are shared by KIM Executive Director and CEO David Muturi, who says companies should participate in COYA not for the award but for continuous improvement and excellence.
Last year, Jubilee Insurance Group Human Resource manager Emily Kamunde was named the 2014 Manager of the Year.
She explains that OPI has helped the insurer to benchmark itself with the global standards. Speaking at the same forum, industrialist Manu Chandaria said patience and a spirit of hard work and pushing oneself is the only way to succeed. “Without thinking, no ideas come out and without putting pressure on yourself, nothing comes about,” said Dr Chandaria, who is also the OPI Conference patron. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”