Batch-1 alumni Lovish Ahuja’s post-MESPOM journey

December 9, 2019

This week we go to Delhi, India to follow Batch-1 alumni Lovish Ahuja’s post-MESPOM journey.

He has been working as the Group Head of Sustainability for the GHCL Ltd (Dalmia Bros). The group is one of India’s oldest business conglomerates and conducts business operations in three sectors: chemicals, textiles and fast-moving consumer products.

What are you currently doing?

I am Group Head of Sustainability at GHCL Ltd; it's a strategic role where I report to the CEO of the company to help him develop a formal Sustainability Framework which can drive all the verticals of the business in a cohesive and standardized manner. My role involves managing all the non-financial performance of the business, largely health, safety, environment and sustainability communication, policy advocacy and corporate social responsibility.

I am responsible for developing the entire policy framework which includes a set of technical standards, management standards and guidance documents that all the three business verticals must follow as a part of their operations. So I'm instrumental in developing the policies, get it approved from higher management/Board, and supervise implementation of the policies and standards across all the different wings of the business. Finally, I also develop a monitoring and review framework to ensure compliance of the same.

What is the biggest challenge of your role?

My department deals with implementing sustainability across all the three different business areas: chemicals, textiles, and consumer goods. These three verticals are mutually exclusive, and have little in common in terms of the material issues and focus areas related to sustainability. But we have had to come up with common minimum standards which would be applicable to all the different industries, while at the same time delivering the best practice. We usually have to undergo a very exhaustive engagement process with all stakeholders initially to come up with something which is workable and yet aligned with best practices in space. 

You graduated from MESPOM 12 years ago now, how would you say MESPOM has impacted this journey you have had to reach your current position?

Previously had a background in environmental engineering, and thus was already involved in the environmental sector. However, MESPOM was crucial in helping diversify my perspective, on the multiple dimensions of sustainability. Studying at all the different partner universities helped me understand how vast this subject is, what are the best industry practices, and how everything can be brought together under the umbrella of sustainability. After finishing MESPOM, the biggest advantage I have is that I was in a position to see things from a bigger perspective and have a much larger vision for everything.

I was able to develop a vision of how everything that apparently seems segregated, can all be brought under one umbrella. If I hadn’t done MESPOM, I would perhaps be an expert of only one specific niche/domain, but now I can claim to be an experienced professional for all the different facets of sustainability. Due to the vastness of knowledge and global best practices MESPOM exposed me to, I am able to bring everything together and present a convincing sustainable business case for the organisation to higher management and get their required buy-in.

So I owe a big chunk of my success to the program, and a lot of what I have achieved is a direct outcome of the multiplicity of the dimensions and the exposure I got from the two years which I spent with MESPOM.

Would you do it again?

Haha, yes, why not. If it has the potential to further broaden my horizons, then why not? I mean I’m still using the dividends I got from MESPOM in 2007, and I’m still taking it along as a part of my success.