Meet Sangeeta Talwar, The Woman Behind The Success Of Nestlé Maggi Noodles In India
- IWB Post
- August 10, 2018
Ever wondered how Maggi ended up being the king of snack-time? Oh yeah, because of the ‘2-minute mai maggi’ tagline but who was behind this innovative strategy? It was Sangeeta Talwar, Marketing Director and Executive VP of Nestlé India, where she had worked for 21 years. She joined India’s corporate workforce in 1979, becoming one of the first women in the FMCG sector.
After Nestle, she worked with Mattel India to redesign the Barbie doll for the Indian market, then worked with Tata Tea, one of India’s biggest tea brands. She recently launched her book The Two-Minute Revolution which talks about her journey as one of the first FMCG women executives in India.
Talking about how Nestlé made Maggi Noodles the go-to-food in India, she shared, “Nestlé India had to go against the grain. India wasn’t used to Chinese food in general, and noodles were not as popular as today. We at Nestlé India were thinking hard. How to get away from its alien product form, and introduce it in the Indian diet in a way that people will accept it? We listed out the kinds of foods Indians eat and where the gaps were. We discovered there were no hot snacks that could be made easily. Either you had samosa, vada, upma, idli – the ones that took time to cook, or sandwiches and pakoras. Nobody really makes samosas at home!”
“That’s what sparked the thought. We decided to position Maggi Noodles as a snack product. Next, we wanted to push the noodles as a ‘family snack product.’ Those days, children were not taken seriously, but we wanted the product was being sold as a snack for the family,” she added.
At Nestlé she was the only woman executive when she joined. “I have never thought of it in that way. I realized, much later, that I was the first women executive. I think I was so busy with understanding what the job was and what I was required to do. I really didn’t focus on the fact that I was the only woman executive in Nestlé,” she said.
“We never thought like that in our time. Just did what was ahead of us and got on with it. I think it’s much-hyped today. It may be an unpopular thing to say, but the point is you are there to do a job. Your gender follows. You just happen to be a woman in that job,” she said.
Sangeeta advises women who are starting their business or getting into a job after a very long time to “have courage, confidence and compassion.” She urges to “believe in yourself – only you can do that. You cannot make someone else believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.”
“Women need a lot of courage to put their hand up. I have seen and spoken to lots of women. In sessions, I have seen how the look on their faces changes when they realise they can put their hand up. Step up to the next challenge. You know women have a very rich life. They don’t only have work at the office, but have a whole other job at home. They are often the glue that keeps the family together. They are emotional, and I don’t think they should ever feel that they have to hide emotions,” she said.
“An emotion they need to nurture – a very fine emotion of a wife, mother – the nurturing side to them. With all this, they can still put up their hand and keep moving forward in what they are doing. As long as they are clear that’s what they want to do,” she concluded.