Ride-hailing firm Ola has appointed Rajeev Bakshi as an advisory member to the board of its food business, Ola Foods. Bakshi brings with him over 40 years of leadership experience across food and FMCG ( fast-moving consumer goods) businesses with the likes of Metro Cash & Carry, PepsiCo, and Cadbury. Bakshi was most recently, the managing director of Metro Cash & Carry India, the local arm of the German wholesaler Metro AG, where he was responsible for providing strategic leadership for the overall operations and growth of the business.
Ola said Bakshi’s deep understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences, as well as his vast experience in marketing and strategy, will help Ola Foods build unique offerings in innovative formats that consumers can relate to.
“We are very excited to have Rajeev (Bakshi) join us as an Advisor to the Board. His understanding of the FMCG space combined with his years of experience in the global F&B industry will prove invaluable for us to build a business that consumers trust and love,” said Pranay Jivrajka, CEO of Ola Foods and founding partner at Ola. “We are at a very early part of our journey wherein we are building unique consumer offerings through differentiated distribution formats, both online and offline. The team and I look forward to working closely with Rajeev in building our various brands as India’s most preferred choice of food in the time to come,” said Jivrajka.
Bakshi’s experience in the food and FMCG industry spans across various categories including confectionaries, soft drinks, snacks, as well as across the length and breadth of food retailing. He has also been responsible for India’s memorable marketing campaigns like the Cadbury ad set on a cricket field that helped alter the brand’s ‘kids-only’ image and positioned it as a product for adult consumption. Ola, with its food business, aims to build its own-food brands like its flagship Khichdi Experiment, and a range of brands across categories like Rice Bowls, Biryani and Health Food, through its vast network of state-of-the-art kitchens across India. Ola currently runs 36 kitchens across 6 cities.
“Ola’s ambitions in the food business with a food-first approach is uniquely placed in a crowded, but undifferentiated industry. With unique offerings that have been developed after immense research and understanding of consumer preferences, Ola has the opportunity to build highly loved food brands in a market that is hitherto underserved,” said Bakshi. “With access to hundreds of millions of consumers who use Ola as an everyday platform, the brands will also have a unique advantage in terms of reach and influence. I am very excited to join Bhavish (Aggarwal), Pranay (Jivrajka) and the team at Ola Foods towards their journey to build India’s most preferred food-brands and in building a food-first business,” said Bakshi.
An alumnus of St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi and IIM-Bangalore, Bakshi started his career in sales at cosmetics brand Lakme India and went on to head the sales and marketing functions at the company. Subsequently, he held various leadership positions in Cadbury Schweppes across sales and marketing for India, Africa, and the Middle East and also as managing director of the India and South Africa businesses. Thereafter, as chairman of Pepsico India, Bakshi successfully steered the company towards consolidating its foothold in the country. He was also the joint managing director of ICICI Ventures where he led the real estate practice and managed consumer-oriented investments like retail and life sciences before he went on to lead Metro Cash & Carry’s India business.