An Interview with Bilal Mehmood, the New President of Kadant Solutions Division
Kadant Solutions Division is pleased to announce the appointment of Bilal Mehmood to the position of President. Bilal recently served as Chief Technology Officer for Kadant Inc. and was responsible for leading global efforts into smart connected products as well as developing, communicating, and executing strategic initiatives in support of organizational growth through advancement of product technology. In his new role, Bilal will be responsible for Kadant Solutions’ operations located in Auburn, Mass. and Glens Falls, N.Y. I had the opportunity to interview Bilal and learn more about his background and vision for Kadant Solutions.
V: You’ve been with Kadant since 1995. Tell me about your career path with Kadant.
B: After graduating with an engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) I was hired by the Kadant corporate research and development team for a special project developing the proof of concept for reusing paper sludge for composite lumber.
Following that special project, I spent several years with the Kadant Solutions research and development team where we were fortunate enough to earn patents on bi-metal blade technology. This led to significant commercial success for Kadant Solutions when the Pro series family of doctor blades was introduced including the ProCrepe® doctor blade. With successful entry into the tissue market from the Pro series, we strengthened our presence with additional patented products such as the Conformatic™ XL blade holder. Leveraging these new technologies, I transitioned into a role encompassing business development, marketing, and technology commercialization.
Eventually, Kadant streamlined its doctoring, cleaning, and filtration product lines into a single manufacturing facility in Auburn. This resulted in inventory challenges due to a significant increase in size and complexity. I was charged with integrating overall inventory planning and became vice president of operations for Kadant Solutions. In parallel, I was serving as corporate director of IT for Kadant. Kadant was seeking a more global technology strategy and this experience led me to the appointment of chief technology officer.
V: What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Kadant Solutions?
B: Globally, Kadant is at a pivotal moment in industrial transformation regarding our long standing, hard earned customer relationships. With technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) and smart connected products we can build and nurture these relationships in multiple channels. At Kadant Solutions, I’m looking forward to pivoting the organization from being product centric and layering in the aspect of servicing the customer beyond the individual touchpoint by incorporating smart connected technologies that create a more intimate customer experience with additional touch points throughout the relationship cycle.
V: What is the benefit of incorporating IoT and smart connected technologies into our sales flow?
B: IoT and smart connected products allow us to increase customer awareness, also referred to as mindshare, for our products and services without the direct sales contact point. To gain mindshare we understand the importance of looking at other channels such as social media, digital outreach, smart connected products, and data driven insights to provide value for our customers. Incorporating these channels gives the ability to “touch” the customer without traditional channels leading to lower costs.
V: We are working in unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic. How have you observed the way we do business change for the positive?
B: We were challenged to quickly adjust to working remotely. Even though we already used numerous tools excellent for remote activity, there was a slight learning curve. It’s been interesting to see those that have discovered they are more productive working remotely while others are excited to return to the office. New levels of joy in productivity have been discovered. These experiences have started discussions about investing in new technologies for remote support, not just for our employees, but for our customers. We are actively seeking ways to work with our customers in nontraditional channels. We want to augment what we’ve learned during the pandemic and take these resources moving forward to create these extra touch points.
V: Do you use any specific tools or routine that helps you stay productive?
B: I’m an avid user of Salesforce.com, LinkedIn, and Office 365 tools. I’m a big believer in using dashboards to convey metrics and make data driven decisions.
V: Do you recommend any books pertaining to leadership and technology?
B: Two books I’ve recently read and would recommend are The Amazon Way by John Rossman and Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption by Geoffrey A. Moore.
You can connect with Bilal via LinkedIn.