Leadership for social impact with Ranjeet Banerjee, CEO of Cold Chain Technologies

Ranjeet Banerjee, CEO of Cold Chain Technologies, shares how social impact is at the forefront of every business decision on their journey to becoming a purpose driven organization.

What’s the story behind Cold Chain Technologies?

Cold Chain Technologies was founded back in the 1960s and focuses on developing capabilities for cold chain management within the life sciences sector. One of our core capabilities is the design of thermal assurance packaging for the transport of vaccines, biologics, drugs and pharmaceuticals, which all require special condition monitoring. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the spotlight has been on cold chain, so we stepped up to become a major partner for the Covid-19 global vaccine distribution.

How did you navigate your career moves?

What excites me is the possibility to transform an industry. At Cold Chain Technologies, I could see there was a company with great capabilities. There are significant unmet needs in the life sciences industry.

In the field, there are many challenges surrounding vaccine and drug wastage as they require special monitoring in transit. What excited me was that over the next two or three years, our company could really start to transform the space and improve patient safety. By succeeding as an organization, we aim to do good for society and the wider community by driving innovation and creating solutions.

How has your role as CEO evolved as the business has grown over the last 18 months?

The pandemic required us to come together as a company, to collaborate with others and to act with speed without taking shortcuts. We had to rapidly build new manufacturing capacities, such as our new site in Tennessee, so we could support global vaccination programs. I think the thing that changed due to the pandemic was that we had to respond to the crisis of today but also look forward and strategically plan for the future of the company. In the pandemic, it’s not been business as normal, so sometimes as CEO I had to be present in the day-to-day tasks to give a clear signal to the team that sometimes you have to wear very different hats.

How do you ensure that sustainability and the human element remain high up in your list of priorities?

We’re on a journey to become a purpose driven organization, creating shared value. While every organization has financial objectives, although important, I think it’s equally important to have objectives that are social impact driven. It’s interesting because what energizes people is not just the numbers but making an impact. Often, we go the extra mile and we have a very passionate team who help to reinforce that message and have made a real difference in fighting the pandemic.

For example, in one of my previous roles, I helped to work on a solution to impact drug diversion which is a major problem in the United Sates. We came up with a solution to prevent the misusing of drugs within healthcare, where we could track and alert a diversion. When you can create strategic value in what you’re doing but also have a broader social element, it excites people. It brings people together, creates a vision and allows you to do something that is transformative not just from a financial perspective but also growth from the societal perspective.

How flexible is your business strategy? Do you map out the clear plan annually, communicate it to your leadership team and stick to it, or is it constantly changing and evolving each month or quarter?

We have a good strategic planning process in place. I think what we’re doing more of now is bringing outside views in. In this, we bring in the voices of stakeholders who are interfacing with services, products and solutions. You can also bring in people who are not your customers today, but are key opinion leaders in the space. By bringing the outside in, you can determine the massive unmet needs which can be a significant opportunity to do something meaningful by building on core capabilities.

What has been the most significant growing pain at Cold Chain Technologies over the last 12 months?

One of the most significant growing pains has been in the rapid response to the pandemic, as it has brought a huge amount of uncertainty especially with regards to the supply chain. I feel like we’ve come out stronger from those challenges, and learnt some valuable lessons. I think every organization needs to ask themselves ‘what did we learn and how do we get better?’.

What’s your biggest hiring challenge right now and what tactics are most effective in helping you overcome it?

One of the challenges companies are going through from a hiring perspective is at the shop floor level. In certain locations, there are some challenges we are able to overcome through special incentives but in others, the availability of skilled workforce has reduced for a magnitude of reasons.

At the higher levels in the organization, we are doing well because of our ethos so are able to attract great talent. One of the challenges we are trying to overcome is to ensure we always have a starting point of diverse candidates in the interview process, so we have a better chance of having a diverse leadership team. If you don’t have it, you need to go out and find it through search firms, social media or LinkedIn.

Why is diversity and inclusion important to you as a CEO? 

I think that if you look at what’s going on externally, there’s lots of polarization happening in every part of the world. So, it’s about getting people back to work and having them feel comfortable with voicing their different points of view. We want a friendly and inclusive environment, and have seen that ideas and innovation flourishes with a talented and diverse team. It’s about not letting polarization on the outside start to impact your environment inside.

What are you most optimistic about right now?

From a work perspective, with Cold Chain Technologies we have learnt a lot and our progress is accelerating clearer, so we can see the impact of how transformative we can be. The industry space we occupy is exciting and we’re working towards providing more assurance of life sciences products with keeping the patient safe as paramount to our mission.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to future leaders?

Be bold in thinking about the social impact your organization can have. When I think of social impact, I’m not just talking about it in the philanthropic sense, but in innovation and ideas. Being bold doesn’t mean that you just create a big vision – it’s about attaining it through converting it into small and measurable steps. My message to all future leaders is to think beyond just the financial impact of your organization.

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