Top tobacco company Reemtsma has operated in Hamburg since 1923. PRASAD PRAVIN, the company’s Indian-born CFO, reveals what ignites him in Hamburg.
How many people work for your company in Hamburg, Germany and worldwide? Do you expect this number to change?
Reemtsma is a subsidiary of Imperial Brands Plc, a business headquartered in Bristol in the UK. We have over 40 manufacturing plants and our tobacco and non-tobacco brands are sold in over 160 markets. Worldwide we have more than 30,000 employees and in Germany over 2,000 employees. Our Hamburg location has over 1,000 employees and includes the Head office for our German Sales and Marketing function as well as Manufacturing Supply and R&D supporting the whole Group.
How was 2017 for your company and what do you expect for the future? Is there one main objective you want to reach with your team in the next twelve months?
2017 was a very successful year. In a slightly declining market Reemtsma gained market share through targeted investment and our objective continues to increase market share.
Which market changes and challenges have the company faced and overcome in the past five years, and which challenges do you anticipate for the next few years?
With volatile market conditions and increased legislation impacting world tobacco volumes we are stepping up our activities in next generation products with new e-vapour launches in new and existing markets. We have just launched our new pod based vaping device myblu in Germany, which is the fastest growing segment in the vaping category.
What do you appreciate in having Hamburg as a location for your company? What would make this appreciation even greater – is there something you would like to change?
Hamburg has an exceptional pool of qualified and talented professionals with a good work ethic. Within Europe, you can’t beat German engineering and technology development.
Which characteristic do you value most in your employees?
It’s the ‘we can’ attitude!
Which principals, management tools or methods have you found useful for your work?
Empowerment and recognising that people grow by learning from mistakes.
Do you expect BREXIT to have an impact on your business?
Customs trade terms and conditions are still unknown but we have a team ready to be mobilised once signposts on this issue are clearer.
What do you particularly like about Hamburg? Is there something you look forward to when you return to Hamburg after a longer stay abroad?
I love how green Hamburg is and the fact that people use bicycles as their main mode of transport.
Where do you consider home?
I was born in India, grew up and educated in the UK. But I would love to settle down with my family in Sydney, Australia where I chose to migrate to.
Apart from Hamburg, which are your three favourite cities worldwide?
Sydney, Queenstown (New Zealand), London.
Your job is very time-consuming … What is your idea of a perfect weekend without work?
Spending time with family and watching a good movie.
What drives you? What provides you the motivation to keep on going and developing your business?
The people who I work with are great and that itself is a motivation to develop and make our business a success.
You have one wish. What do you wish for?
Good health for my family.
Is there anything that has truly scared you?
Public speaking, but over time with practice and experience this has become much better.
Any advice for people embarking on a career while in their twenties?
Be flexible, take a risk by trying out something new and be prepared to leave your comfort zone. Being internationally mobile will not only help you grow as an individual, it also provides great career opportunities.
Pravin Prasad, CFO of Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH in Hamburg, has notched up almost two decades of experience in the international cigarette and tobacco business working for Imperial Tobacco (IT). He started his career in 1999 at IT in Australia, moved to New Zealand then back to Australia in 2009 before moving to IT’s European subsidiary Reemtsma in 2012. In September 2015, Pravin Prasad was appointed CFO and member of the Reemtsma Board of Management. Pravin Prasad has a BA (Hons) from the University of Central England and is CPA / Australian Member of the Society of Certified Practising Accountants and FCCA / UK Member of Chartered Certified Accountants.