PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev took part in a panel session at the 2021 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum called “The Transformation of Business to Spur Economic Growth”.
The other participants in the session were Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates; Pavel Grachev, CEO of Polyus; Dmitry Konov, Chairman of the Management Board of SIBUR Holding; Dmitry Sedov, Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs Russia; Kirill Tuishev, Managing Director of BCG; Mikhail Shamolin, President of Segezha Group; Ksenia Sosnina, General Director of Ilim Group; Dmitry Konyaev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Uralchem; and Yakov Sergienko, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company.
In starting the discussion, the moderator, EM Chairman Tom Blackwell, asked Minister Bin Touq Al Marri if, in his opinion, the pandemic had provided an impetus for the transformation of business.
“The COVID-19 epidemic has played an important role in digitalisation, speeding it up a great deal in both public and private structures. Of course, the economy – both retail and other industries – is now facing a variety of challenges. But the most important thing is to help industries transform. I took office on 15 July last year, in the middle of the pandemic. It was a very inauspicious moment to be appointed as a member of the government. However, we were able to look at the situation from the outside, to get a sense of what to do next. In one month, we developed a plan for economic recovery and restoration, and, again, digitalisation played an important role in it,” said Minister Bin Touq Al Marri.
The moderator noted it is not necessary these days to be a fashionable company in a new economy or to establish an ecosystem in order to develop a successful business.
“This has been proven by companies from traditional industries that have been able to undertake a profound transformation and become national or even global champions in their sectors. Programmes to improve the efficiency and productivity of large companies can bring them billions of dollars in profit, which will be used as a source of funds for long-term investment, increased household incomes and tax revenues,” said Mr Blackwell.
As an example of business transformation through large-scale investments, in terms of both their size and their impact, he cited PhosAgro, while addressing the Company’s CEO with a question about the problems the Company had to solve along the way.
“PhosAgro turns 20 this year. We have come a long way, and we are engaged in an ongoing transformation of our business processes and production facilities. Since the founding of the Company in 2001, we have increased the production of our main products threefold. The number of grades of fertilizers that the Company produces has increased more than tenfold, from 5 to 53, and labour productivity, calculated in tonnes of mineral fertilizer produced per employee, has increased sevenfold,” said Mr Guryev, PhosAgro’s CEO and the head of the Russian Fertilizer Producers Association.
According to Mr Guryev, PhosAgro is now customer-focused, supplying eco-efficient mineral fertilizers to meet the specific needs of farmers in 102 countries around the world with the help of the Company’s digital agro-services.
“At the same time, we now offer all our skills, all the best technologies that are available in the market to Russian agricultural producers – our primary customers – and they are more than in demand; we are the leader in terms of the total volume of fertilizers supplied to agribusiness in the Russian Federation,” said PhosAgro’s CEO.
“We are developing our IT platform and have created a digital agricultural calculator for our customers. We are constantly working on production costs and on our product lines. We are collaborating with Innopraktika to create new lines of bioadditives to make fertilizers more effective, increasing yields by an additional 20%–30%”, said Mr Guryev.
Dmitry Konov, Chairman of the Management Board of SIBUR Holding, said that the transformation of his company’s business took considerably longer than a decade.
“SIBUR has historically been a company that has processed by-products of oil and gas production and has mainly sold energy products – that is, products that are used as energy. Our transformation has consisted in the construction of new petrochemical capacities, leaving the energy segment behind in favour of the production of synthetic materials and petrochemicals,” said Mr Konov.
Among the main areas of transformation, SIBUR’s Management Board Chairman singled out construction and the implementation of major investment projects, as well as the shuttering and sale of those assets that the company believed had little chance of developing, and the ability to carry out large investment projects on budget and on time.
The CEO of Polyus, Mr Grachev, noted that his company had not singled out digitalisation as a separate focus, saying that it is instead part of a larger transformation process, a set of projects and subprojects united by one goal and under a single umbrella led by the vice president.
“This is a big part of our entire business; its importance is growing. The budget is growing: last year we spent about USD 50 million; this year, USD 80 million. From isolated initiatives, our transformation has turned into an integral part of our ongoing business,” said Mr Grachev.