Fri | Dec 14, 2018

JWN’s planning director instilling family values the Bowla way

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM


An experienced manufacturing professional whose work ethic and people management skills have put him on the path to leadership, Sanjay Bowla basks in the joy of fatherhood.

The J. Wray & Nephew Limited planning director maintains very strong ties with his only son, five-year-old Jacob, creating a bond which largely replicates a carbon copy.

"I used to swim competitively back in the day for St George's College, Marlins, Blue Fins. He's into swimming as well. I'm a black belt in karate, he seems to love karate himself," admitted Bowla.

The similarities don't end there, as they also overlap into a generational trend with cars, with his dad and uncles owning a garage and mom a car rental.

"The thing that holds us together is the fact that we like automobiles," Bowla said of his son. "It's a family thing. He loves the idea of speed, he loves the idea of a combustion engine. A term in the family is 'a typical Bowla'."

Besides automobiles, that inclination came with values and ethics passed down from one generation to the next.

"I want him to be responsible, have values, know how to treat a lady, integrity, passion, it's quite important to instill them. It will somehow concretise who they'll be in the future," said Bowla.

"I learnt a lot of that from my father. It's quite important; kids tend to emulate what they see, they're quite impressionable, especially at this stage," he noted.

"As a parent, we can change what the society will look like if all of us carry out our responsibilities as we should."

Continuing, Bowla says he was "inspired by how hard my father worked. To see him work that hard, I want to work twice as hard".




Bowla's penchant for people management actually began in the family business, Bowla's Car Rental, where he was company secretary with responsibility for staff management as well as annual financial reporting from 2000 to 2003.

A food chemist by training, this graduate of the University of the West Indies later joined the J. Wray & Nephew team in 2004 as the senior supervisor in the production blending hall. In that capacity, Bowla was responsible for improving efficiencies in production as well as assist in the implementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points programme.

His commitment and effective leadership style led to successive promotions - assistant blending hall manager in 2005; assistant manager, bottling operations, in April 2008; bottling hall manager in November 2008; then operations manager in 2017 - followed by his appointment to logistics and customer service director and most recently, planning director.

In his current role, Bowla's responsibilities cover distillery, production and agency brands import planning, management of the S&OP process, inventory management, material planning, and stock replenishment across the North Americas for Campari Group.




With such a wide portfolio, there comes the issue of balancing work with family time.

"I carved out a particular schedule, especially on a Saturday; he spends pretty much the entire day with me," said Bowla, who is engaged to Janis Hugh. "I also ensure that he spends time with the family. It's something I have to work at, it's not easy."

Luckily, the company is also big on family values.

"Campari encourages work-life balance. The company is now in the process of creating a smart work schedule, they are now considering flexi work, where you can work from home. They genuinely care that they give family time. It makes work-life balance easier," explained Bowla.

Another aspect of Bowla's working capacity has also seen improvements in his relationship with staff. This, he says, is a direct consequence of fatherhood.

"As a father, it has changed how I respond to my staff, I tend to be more understanding. At first I had a challenge understanding the issues, but now that I'm a father, I'm more understanding, I'm more empathetic when they have family issues," he explained, noting that his staff complement has always contributed to his success.

"I've been very fortunate to have some excellent workers. The initiatives I've wanted to implement, they've been very supportive. A lot of the success in my career has been due to the people I've worked with," said Bowla.

Though his sporting exploits are geared mainly towards swimming and karate, Bowla's sights will be somewhat tuned, if only a little, on the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Asked which team he's supporting, he admitted: "Germany. I'm not a really big football fan, but part of my lineage is mixed between India and Germany."