Mujtaba Rahim is fighting the good fight. He has spent much of his professional life believing that, for change to happen, one needs to contest the status quo. “We need to challenge the status quo with the deep belief that we should make our industry sustainable,” the Archroma Pakistan CEO states.

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“Sustainable from an environmental point of view as well as an economic point of view. This is something I look at very holistically.” Archroma Pakistan is a market leader in the field of speciality dyes and chemicals.

It also has operations in manufacturing, sales and business for the textile, paper, adhesives, coatings and construction industries. The company has been Mujtaba’s home for the past 38 years.

After graduating with a master’s in applied chemistry from the University of Karachi, Mujtaba joined the company in 1982. In 2004, he earned the position of Divisional Head – Textile, Leather and Paper – one of the largest units of the business, before being promoted to CEO in 2006.

Mujtaba is also president of the Swiss Business Council, a premier platform of Swiss Companies in Pakistan. “I cherish the journey,” he reflects. Upon his appointment as CEO, Mujtaba says he had a dream to make Archroma Pakistan the number-one business of the whole Archroma Group.

“We achieved that this year,” he says. “We are very proud and happy. It took us a long time to come into the first position.”

The best of the best

Consecutively in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Employers Federation of Pakistan awarded Archroma Pakistan with Employer of the Year in the multinationals segment, in recognition of its human resource management, ethical marketing management and corporate social responsibility. The production site at Jamshoro has a Sustainable Effluent Treatment Plant with zero liquid discharge saving water. The two production sites of Archroma have also completed ‘One Million Safe & Accident-Free’ working hours and all offices in Karachi have been declared ‘Green Offices’ by WWF-Pakistan. The efforts of Archroma Pakistan Limited in these areas also earned its CEO, Mujtaba Rahim, the Best CEO of the Year award for three consecutive years (2015–17).

Mujtaba views Archroma Pakistan as a company that is unique in its sector because of its comprehensive portfolio, which features a number of diversified and innovative products. “We have distributors who have been working with us for the past 70 years,” he notes.

“It is the third generation working with us. There is a strong partnership with distributors and customers. They are proud to be working with Archroma.” Throughout Mujtaba’s almost four decades with Archroma Pakistan, he has witnessed many changes.

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Archroma’s heritage traces back to 1886 in Basel, Switzerland, when it was known as Kern & Sandoz and produced textile dyes. In 1995, Clariant was formed as a supplement from Sandoz and, in 1997, it acquired the speciality chemicals business of Hoechst.

Then SK Capital came in and acquired the textile chemicals, paper specialties, and emulsions businesses from Clariant Corporation in October 2013. In 2015, Archroma acquired textile business BASF and, in 2017, it completed its acquisition of M. Dohmen.

I’m lucky to have such a wonderful team around me.

Today, Archroma operates from 26 facilities in 35 countries around the world and employs approximately 3,000 people. The three divisions (textile specialties, paper solutions and emulsions products) were ultimately combined as an integrated company and renamed Archroma.

Thus, Archroma has a knowledge of chemistry and industry that spans more than 120 years. Another significant transformation has been due to digitalisation and a change in consumer mentality.

“Consumer knowledge has altered the entire perspective of the business,” he continues, “and, because of the impact of the textile industry and the chemical industry on our environment in the past, we all must do our part in order to create more sustainable apparel and textiles.”

Green initiatives

Archroma Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) in 2018. The agreement ties the two companies to ensure cooperation in projects mainly related to water conservation in the textile industry. The MoU strengthens the relationship between Archroma and WWF Pakistan’s initiatives in promoting sustainable practices within the textile industry. “We at Archroma are very proud to join hands with WWF for a cause that is close to our heart, and we strongly believe that water conservation is the key to the sustainability of our industry,” says Mujtaba Rahim, CEO of Archroma Pakistan. “We believe in continuous improvement and, through this important initiative, we are confident of improving upon the depleting water reserves, especially in Sindh. Water conservation by recycling and re-use will save freshwater reservoirs. The technical expertise of our team and enthusiasm of WWF-Pakistan in conserving natural resources is an ideal partnership, and we look forward to working on many projects in the future.”

Going forward, Mujtaba isn’t dwelling too much on the past. Instead, he is looking ahead and ensuring the future is a sustainable one. “These future projects are mainly focused on saving resources such as water, time and energy. We have recently launched a unique product that protects the environment – new indigo dye for denim that protects aquatic life,” he explains.

“I see a bright future for products like this in the medium- to short-term, as well as long-term. The key is to continue to focus on sustainability.” Mujtaba believes there is no fixed answer for success. Instead, it is about “connecting the dots”.

By that, he means connecting the people and removing the roadblocks. “Then they can continue to gallop in the direction you want them to. You have to bring the ownership and the people to create that burning desire to win.”

Success doesn’t come from a lone leader, it comes from the whole team, led with direction and passion. “It’s all about the team, ownership, feeling the pain, owning the business, owning the customer and having passion,” Mujtaba stresses.

“I’m lucky to have such a wonderful team around me. That’s the reason that we have been rated among the top 25 best performing companies on the stock exchange consecutively over the past 15 years.”

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