Golam Murshed, Managing Director of Walton Hi-Tech Industries Limited, speaks to Alvia Zaman Shristy of Colors about his roaring success in leading the super brand of Bangladesh Walton and the company’s vision for capturing the global electronics market.
A decade ago, 90% of the market demand for electronics in the country was met through imports. Over this period a dynamic change has been brought about in the import scenario of electronic goods by a local company called Walton. Their promising products have made their way from the concrete jungle that is Dhaka to the remote rural areas of Bangladesh. Currently, they are exporting their products to over 40 countries across the world. Walton has planned to open branches or liaison offices in six countries, including the United States, India, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea, as part of its worldwide expansion and technology sourcing strategy. e company is maintaining its ambitions of thriving and establishing itself on the world electronic map and has a stake of more than two-thirds of the local refrigerator market, approximately half of the television and a third of the air conditioner market. Golam Murshed, Managing Director of Walton Hi-Tech Limited, has been an integral part of its journey since 2010 and is now in charge of closely monitoring its globalization ambition. As part of its plan to expand its business, the company is on its way to set up a subsidiary company named Walton Corporation United States of America whose operation is going to be managed by him.
RISING THROUGH THE RANKS
Born and brought up in Chapainawabganj, Murshed has had a humble upbringing. Monirul Islam, his father, worked as a journalist for local publications. Speaking of his father, he said, ‘He has always encouraged me to dream big, he reiterated the importance of being honest and hard-working for as long as I can remember’. Heeding this piece of advice, he dived dedicatedly into schoolwork and excelled. He graduated from Harimohan Govt High School in Chapainawabganj Sadar in 2004 and then attended Notre Dame College in Dhaka. He went on to graduate in Mechanical Engineering from the Islamic University of Technology. Right after his graduation, he joined Walton as an Assistant Engineer in 2010 in its AC manufacturing department at the age of 21. He worked in the manufacturing plants of AC as well as refrigerators for six years. At the end of which he was promoted as the CEO of the refrigeration unit. During this period, he remarkably helped the refrigerator sales to double. Nine years down the line he oversaw Walton, a business that now has grown into a market capitalization of Tk. 37,000 crore, as its Managing Director. He is possibly the youngest MD in Bangladesh to lead a major company that controls the electronic home goods industry by over 60 percent. He said, “I didn’t see myself limited to the tedium of R&D, rather the dynamic aspects of people movement and mechanics of large scale cross-functional operation, engineering and management offered by Walton has always made me feel at home, in my element.” ‘While others went home early, I stayed back to observe not only the mechanisms of the machinery but the manpower in the plants. I perceived working to be as important as any other part of my daily routine.’ Working overtime proved to open a world of opportunities for him. On overcoming the challenges, the shi brought about, he had this to say: ‘The company goals are my responsibilities; I speculate it in this way rather than thinking of it as an obligation, the notion of the job being challenging ends right then and there with a slight shift in perspective.’
DYNAMIC LEADER IN THE MAKING
To come from a humble background and to achieve such a feat with no familial connections is truly commendable. What was it about him that compelled the authorities to give him promotion after promotion? The answer in one word would be workaholism. at coupled with his strong sense of responsibility made and still makes him a force to be reckoned with. Here is how he expressed his take on a tireless work pattern: ‘e most successful CEOs in the world are workaholics and have a deep devotion towards their respective fields. My personal vision has always been to work up to my 40s when I’m in my optimum health condition and not worry too much about resting, there will be time for that later. e pace of work that can be achieved before this period is incomparable. e saying that is close to his heart is ‘work now, rest later. ‘Being the team leader means having an influence over coworkers. So, he tries to ingrain the importance of honesty and hard work into their minds. He looks forward to not only encouraging them with words but also leads by example through actions. Healthy communication has aided him in synchronizing his goals in managing the manpower and aligning them with the vision of the company. He has developed this clarity in vision under the guidance of his mentor SM Ashraful Alam, the former MD. ‘He has guided me to understand and look over the inner workings of the operations, marketing, and finance and even engineering sectors. He definitely prepared me well for the role and because of that the transition from Assistant Managing Director to Managing Director during these challenging times was made almost seamless.’
Working alongside him has taught him how to react under pressurized conditions and maintain a balanced relationship with coworkers. He not only carried out his share of responsibilities and then some. His inquisitiveness came in very handy for leading Walton into being the market leader by a wide margin. Talking about the challenges of leading a fast-growing company, he said that, ‘Heading a company has its own fair share of challenges. However, in every one of them, I discover an opportunity to learn and grow with every new goal that we aim at’. Having grown as a person and a professional with the company, he has devoted himself to establishing a better ground for it both globally and locally.
BUSINESS DURING THE PANDEMIC
The company sustains 25,000 workers and has yet to fire a single employee since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. In these tough times, they have stood in solidarity with their employees and there have been no pay cuts. e operations have been running in full capacity, maintaining government compliance in these trying times. He stated that it is the dedication of workers which in turn has kept the business afloat even during a pandemic. Governance is crucially important for a company to grow sustainably. The first thing that he has established in the company is strong company governance. He believes that maintaining this helps everyone in the company. ‘The people at Walton are my very own. I encourage them at every step of the way to be ethical human beings. This reflects directly onto the work that the individuals put day in day out here at Walton.’ Through his leadership, he wants to inspire his colleagues to contribute to society on a larger scale by putting Bangladesh’s name on the map. He instils in his employees, or rather family as he refers to them, the moral value of working towards representing Bangladesh globally. He believes that his employees possess enormous creativity to contribute to the country’s economy. He said, ‘Being compassionate and a little bit of motivation goes a long way’. He has firsthand witnessed the overwhelming support from the colleagues working in the factory, while firmly trusting the company to take care of them; what’s more, the support provided has been received with gratitude across the line structure – whether it be medical, financial or humanitarian. This Eid and the previous one too, they went home with their salaries and bonus amidst the lockdown in place.
He recently launched the program ‘Covid-19 Surveillance Week’ to facilitate employees in obtaining free Covid-19 tests, vaccination registration, medical assistance, and other services. At the function on July 15th, 2021, he also announced support packages for their aid. In addition to the package, the family will receive all types of required support, including cash support from one million to two million from the Trustees of Walton (WPPF), if a Walton employee dies from the coronavirus. He said with a glint of a smile on his face, ‘Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of my colleagues is a top priority of mine because keeping the plant watered at the end of the day makes the tree blossom.’
During his tenure and under his leadership, Walton has been felicitated with coveted awards and recognitions like Superbrands, host of local and international awards, honours, and recognitions regularly including the Best Brand Award for six consecutive years in 2020. The performance of Walton Hi-Tech during the last decade, as well as its future potential, is the major grounds for investors’ excitement. Because of the high quality and dependability of their products, they have amassed a market share of more than 66% in the domestic electronics industry. Walton Hi-Tech is set for significant future expansion, having established a strong presence in the global market through export operations in more than 40 countries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Walton saw better earnings in the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year compared to the same period the prior year. Walton is breaking records in the country’s stock exchanges. On September 23, 2020, WHIL’s shares began trading on the two stock markets. Prices of Walton’s shares were raised to the circuit breaker’s maximum limit during the first five trading days following the debut. According to stock exchange sources, the Walton share price was Tk 1,221.80 per share, with a face value of Tk10. The company’s market capitalization is currently Tk37,012 crores, based on the value of its shares. What does Walton strive to achieve over the next few decades? On the topic, Murshed remarked: ‘Our next step is to manufacture washing machines. Washing machines are second only to televisions in terms of importance to people who produce electronics all over the world. This promising product will be introduced to the market on a large scale soon.’ Talking about the new product range, he said, ‘The lift is one of the other goods in our product range. Walton is the sole manufacturer of elevators in Bangladesh. We are offering the product on an instalment basis to top it off. Furthermore, no one else can provide after-sales service like us. Our crew helps with one dial of a phone call. This advantage surely sets us apart.’ His vision for Walton is to become one of the top 5 electronics brands worldwide by 2030. Within the last decade, Walton has surpassed other firms that have been in business for over 30 years by becoming the largest stakeholder in the Bangladeshi market. It has now become the first electronics company from Bangladesh to have achieved multinational stature. They have undoubtedly established themselves as an unmatched contender in the industry. If anything, the patterns in growth rate and factory expansion, incorporation of vertically integrated technology, skilled workforce, brand values and ethics suggest that this vision is indeed achievable. With continued support from its people and policymakers, he reckons that Bangladesh will be among the top five to seven nations in the world in terms of electronic products manufacturing in the not-too-distant future.