At Mahindra AFS, we aim HIGH!
The hum-drum of a factory shop-floor has an unusual vibrancy to it, which attracts many people (including myself), and is a source of our energy. It is a place where thousands of people come together (literally!) to create something tangible, something which you can feel with your hands. As a natural tendency, especially the people on shop-floor, are biased towards action orientation. Also, for these many people to work in tandem there has to be a seamless synergy among all and a robust strategy which can be maintained over a period of time.
That is what we love working on, bringing people & teams together with a bias towards taking action. Early in my life, I closely identified with my icon, which was to be an auto mechanic, who comes out a victor with greased hands and a solution to a complex problem with a jubilant feeling of winning over a car.
As far as my professional journey goes, it kick-started with and has since been associated with a diverse set of automobile companies from across cultural environments like Japanese, Koreans, Germans and Chinese. This has enriched my experience, both personally and professionally to a great extent, but even with all this, there still hung an inkling to work with an Indian company, a chance where I could make a difference for my own country.
When I spoke to Mahindra top management, back in the day, one thing which clearly stood out was that they knew where and what they wanted Mahindra brand to be. There was a burning desire to create high-quality products which were at par with global standards. There was this constant need to make a difference!
Today, I take care of manufacturing side of the automotive business. Directly or indirectly, I work with thousands of Mahindraites in production, production planning, supply chain, plant engineering, employee relations & CME among the rest. Needless to say, our suppliers support us in a big way towards seamless working of the above-mentioned departments. The best part that keeps me going every morning is that we have become a cohesive force that faces every challenge with rigour and let our results speak for themselves. Day after day, our teams manage complex processes which ensure that thousands of small and big parts come together in the same sequence every time and become a car which looks and work as a single unit from the outside. It’s like a relay race; all participants of a team carry the baton one by one to ensure that it crosses the mark on time. Any drop in between and the game is lost.
Sports are a great source of inspiration and wisdom for me. They teach all about leadership and teamwork when it comes to chasing numbers within a set timeline, which is the case in manufacturing too. Like any other Indian, I am a big fan of cricket and still remember a 40-year-old match which I heard on the radio played between India & England and recall that a leading Indian batsman made 36 runs in 60 overs (not out) while India was chasing a high score of 334 by England. I’m not sure of what he was trying to achieve, but since then have formed a definition of leadership that it’s all about how a person responds to the need of the hour. If it’s the last ball and team needs 5 runs, then a true leader has to come out of the crease and aim for a sky shot irrespective of the result. Anything short of that and (s)he cannot be counted as a leader.
Manufacturing function, like the relay race, runs on an exceptional amount of strategic planning and unrelenting focus on discipline with time as a precious & perishable commodity. There has to be a Plan B ready with each team for every eventuality else the customer will have to wait, which is a cardinal sin in today’s world. A lot of people have a perception of manufacturing being a function that makes use of hands only while it actually is more about balancing your hands while working with a strong mind. Having spent 36 years in this function, I sincerely believe that it’s an area of holistic fulfilment and over the years, has nurtured my love for numbers, their analysis and different paths they can indicate by deep diving into them. In my opinion, what distinguishes Mahindra in the manufacturing set up which motivates all of us here is a sense of freedom to innovate and empowerment.
I’ve always believed that whatever work one does- irrespective of place, function or level- it’s important to have a passion for achieving excellence in it. This also means that one will have to have a strong sense of values and courage to withstand any compromises. A true leader always aims for excellence in his/her work and dreams to achieve big, rather than incremental shifts, and finally assumes responsibility for those big targets.
If you desire to work on complex problems and innovative solutions, are passionate about creating winning teams and products and inclined towards taking action – then manufacturing is for you. Grab the opportunity that Mahindra provides in this function, just get out of the crease and aim for the big shot!