‘Base abilities’ help export industries to flourish - MTI Consulting chief | Sunday Observer

‘Base abilities’ help export industries to flourish - MTI Consulting chief

PIC: LAKE HOUSE MEDIA LIBRARY
PIC: LAKE HOUSE MEDIA LIBRARY

Every nation depends on certain ‘base abilities’ to drive export growth and economic development. The world’s top exporters (in the different sectors) demonstrate one or more of these essential ‘base abilities’ and these are the ‘platforms’ or ‘drivers’ which enable profitable export industries to flourish, said CEO of MTI Consulting, Hilmy Cader.

He said these include intellectual property by way of multinational businesses and brands - examples are - the USA, Switzerland, Japan and Germany.

As businesses seek to capture multiple markets by taking their valuable industry expertise, skills and products to foreign markets, nations have benefited through increased levels of exports as well, he said.

Cader, who is an experienced international strategy consultant, talked about a range of strategy ideas in this interview with the Business Observer.

Excerpts:

Q. As a strategy consultant, MTI has been working with several key companies. What are the current international projects that you are dealing with?


Hilmy Cader

A: Currently, our strategy consulting projects span the USA, UK, Africa, Bangladesh and of course, Sri Lanka, and are across diverse industries. These include a chain of tea bars in the USA and UK, an electricity distribution infrastructure project in Africa, and a Herbal Remedies project in Bangladesh, to name a few

Q. At a professional level, how can MTI’s international exposure benefit Sri Lanka?

A: Cross-border and cross-industry experience would certainly help all the countries we work in, Sri Lanka in particular – as this makes the strategising process more effective.

Among the top multi-national companies that MTI has worked with are companies such as American Express, AXA Insurance, Axiata, BASF, Cargills – Agribrands CIMA, DHL, Dupont, Emirates Airlines, Finlays, Fonterra, Four Seasons, HSBC, KPMG, Limoneira, Nestle, Robeco, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata, Toyota, Triumph, Vodafone and Wilmar.

Q. What have you seen through these companies and what Sri Lankan skills could we could promote abroad?

A. Strategising, business analytics and research are the skills which are the key ones where Sri Lankan professionals can compete cross borders, and excel.

Q. You are also working with several Sri Lankan companies by providing Sri Lankan strategic business solutions abroad. How have these companies benefited so far?

A: For instance, MTI Consulting, through their proven international market-entry methodology (and backed by extensive cross-border experience), has enabled the makers of Samahan and Sudantha to breakthrough into the fast growing Vietnam and Myanmar markets. Link Natural has tied-up with one of South East Asia’s leading healthcare companies, which will see the launch of the Samahan equivalent in both these high potential markets.

In Sri Lanka, some top corporate organisations have benefited from MTI’s expertise. These include Abans, Access Engineering, Aitken Spence, Akbar Brothers, AMW, Bank of Ceylon, Browns, Carsons, Ceylinco Insurance, Chartered Accountants, CIC, Delmege, Dialog Axiata, DIMO, DuPont, Expo, EDB, Galle Face Hotel, Hatton National Bank, Hayleys, Hirdaramani, HSBC, Lanka IOC, Lake House, Laugfs, LOLC, MAS, McLarens, Metropolitan Group, National Savings Bank (NSB), Odel, People’s Bank, Renuka Group, Seylan Bank, Sri Lanka Telecom, Singer, SriLankan Airlines, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, Sunshine Holdings, Union Bank, United Motors and Walkers MTD.

Q. What are the main lessons you have learnt through these strategic partnerships?

A: Ability to synthesise constantly, evolving conceptual models with dynamic experience – with the intent to translate these into the client’s bottom-line.

Q. As an experienced international strategy consultant, how do you think Sri Lanka should increase its exports? What strategies should we look at in promoting different export sectors such as tea, rubber, apparel and IT?

A: Every nation depends on certain ‘base capabilities’ to drive export growth and economic development.When assessing the world’s top exporters (for the different sectors) we see that they demonstrate one or more of these essential ‘base’ capabilities. These capabilities are the ‘platforms’ or ‘drivers’ on which nations enable profitable export industries.

This includes intellectual property by way of multinational businesses and brands - for example USA, Switzerland, Japan and Germany.

As businesses seek to capture multiple markets by taking their valuable industry expertise, skills and products to foreign markets, nations have benefited through increased levels of exports as well.

We see that possessing high value natural resources, such as in Australia, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia, and if well managed, generate significant amounts of income to such resource rich nations, becoming strong foundations for economic prosperity.

Having a highly skilled knowledgeable workforce. For example - Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, or India (for Information Technology). As nations become increasingly interconnected, tapping into foreign labour pools becomes the standard. Certain nations may not possess adequate labour resources, in which case looking abroad is the probable option (for them).

Large scale, low cost ‘production’ workforces, enable profitable industries.For example Bangladesh, China or Vietnam. Significant cost savings through cheaper foreign labour have prompted corporations to consider outsourcing key operations and functions.

This has increased export activity bringing in benefits to nations as well as businesses. Access to such global labour pools have dramatically brought down production and operating expenditure, helping businesses achieve massive economies of scale.

Becoming a regional hub is another way, such as Dubai or the Netherlands. By focusing on offering key services such as ports and supply chain trade links, (built and supported around their strategic locations), certain nations have managed to gain added advantages in the global stage.

Q. What suggestions do you have to promote tourism in Sri Lanka, especially at a time when ‘Lonely Planet’ has recognised the island as the best destination for 2019 among its top 10 countries? If you are to promote Sri Lanka as a top destination for travel, investment and exports which marketing strategy would you like to implement?

A: Before answering these two questions, we need to do some soul searching on the following - Which type of global traveller do we wish to, (and are we capable of), attracting and satisfying? Why would they select us as against our competitors? How do we continuously fine-tune our value proposition to remain relevant to our target market and do so competitively? And how do we build and continuously improve our capacity and capabilities – to meet the dynamics of the global tourism market that we serve? 

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