When browsing the website of Praj Industries, one of India’s most successful companies, it’s clear that it takes climate change seriously. In fact, it’s emblazoned all over the screen in dramatic lettering that leaves no doubt: the climate crisis is real.
It’s important that businesses embrace corporate social responsibility; it can be a powerful tool in making the world a better place. However, this does not feel like that – this feels like a mission. And Pramod Chaudhari, Founder and Chair, is taking it global.
“When I started the company in 1983, I knew what I was doing had some environmental benefits but back then, climate change and the term ‘carbon footprint’ weren’t very well-known terminology,” he says.
Put simply, Praj Industries manufactures and develops sustainable solutions for a range of industries. That mission is deliberately broad because the solutions the company has on offer are many, but initially it began with biofuels as an alternative to the more destructive fossil fuels.
Restless for improvement
Today, Praj Industries is a global leader in five main business lines: bioenergy, high-purity systems, critical process equipment, wastewater treatment, and breweries and beverages. These divisions are diverse but they all have one thing in common: a drive to do things better for the environment, for the customer and for the employees behind it all.
“I am always restless for innovation. Research and innovation are our backbones,” Pramod explains. “How can we do things in a different and better way? Why not another way? This gives rise to different solutions to problems and tasks.”
We have borrowed the planet from the next generation. We have to ensure we give it to them in safe hands. There is a much bigger picture, a global canvas, that I’m looking at.
It’s easy to see how this drive for betterment has carried through to the business lines of Praj Industries; the need to continually improve and find better ways to do things extend far outside of the realm of business for Pramod. For example, he explains he has a lot of empathy for rural India.
“The rural part of our country definitely has to be brought to the forefront,” he stresses. “For every action, we consider our carbon intensity. That’s how we are trying to contribute. One is at a national level for the rural Indian population, and the other is from a global point of view: how can my company and I reduce our carbon footprint?”
A global canvas
Pramod is focused on our global carbon footprint, the imprint we as a species are leaving on the planet. “Climate change is really creating havoc. Floods and seasonal showers, droughts, fires – all those things are happening because of more carbon in the atmosphere and the temperature is going up,” he explains.
“Our effort is to contribute in the fight against this global phenomena, so we established a world-class research and development centre to create bio-based solutions. Industrial biotechnology has become very important because it helps address the effects of climate change. We walk the talk when we talk green.”
His passion is striking. “Passion and purpose are what makes a business thrive,” he shares. “We have borrowed the planet from the next generation. We have to ensure we give it to them in safe hands. There is a much bigger picture, a global canvas, that I’m looking at.”
Care and stewardship
And business is indeed thriving, not least because Pramod places great emphasis on the care of his employees. During the pandemic, his leadership team ensured staff were able to get vaccinated and provided them with support if they or their family got sick.
“Employee care is a priority, and that’ll continue as a lifelong requirement,” he reveals. “That is the most important measure which came out of the pandemic. An employee will feel comfortable and secure if you’re taking care of them.
An employee will feel comfortable and secure if you’re taking care of them.
“We are also focused on employee upskilling in the form of continuous training programs, both in-house and at external faculties. We are giving back from the point of view of upgrading our employees’ skill sets and knowledge. We also have a job rotation program so people get more and more exposed to different jobs.”
There’s a common theme that seems to underpin everything Pramod does: care and stewardship. He wants a circular bioeconomy, which makes a lot of sense when considering his company is all about prolonging and improving the lives of his staff and the planet. He’s not only a boss, he’s a leader. And he’s the leader we need right now.