"Our industry needs professional entrepreneurs" - Dr. Deb Mukherji, MD, ADM Technologies
It is not everyday that I meet a PhD leading a business. And, here I am, with Dr Deb Mukherji, Managing Director, ADM Technologies Pvt Ltd, in a hotel lobby, recording an interview, even as a piano comes to life intermittently. A doctorate in Economics and Business studies, Deb is a mechanical engineer by profession who served in the Indian Air Force early on in his career. Read on.
First, Deb, tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur.
I have worked in shop-floor production, quality control, and later on sales and marketing, in my career. As I set up my first company, which is into consulting and business advisory, all this knowledge and experience came in handy. I saw that there are many foreign companies that would like to come to India and do business. However when they enter, they face lots of challenges and issues especially at the start-up phase. Sometimes they end up with wrong advisor or wrong partner and leave with a bad experience about the country. So, this was the motivation for me to start this business to support foreign companies in India.
I started with one small mandate from an American company whom we supported in their business in India. As we moved on, we added many more customers from Japan, Europe, ME etc. Subsequently, our packaging business started in Chennai, wherein we were invited by a global OEM to look into their packaging issues and design new packaging.
Your views about the auto industry.
I am pretty upbeat about the future, as we see many OEMs still going on with investment plans – Ford, Suzuki, and Nissan, being the leaders. I also see more and more global OEMs taking a larger interest in the engineering and development done out of India. As markets all over the world come under pressure, there is a lot of interest on doing a low-cost, efficient, safe car.
Low-cost car does not mean low quality car. OEMs know this. I see Indian engineers becoming more and more involved in engineering and development for many global OEMs based in India. We have started working on a new project recently, involving some small and mid-size Japanese companies. They bring in some top-class technology and products. Overall, for the Indian auto industry, I see tremendous opportunities to grow at the global level.
On professional entrepreneurship.
I would like to see more professionals taking the plunge to become entrepreneurs in India. The industry here needs more professional entrepreneurs. I see there is a lot of knowledge and experience available with fellow professionals in consulting, manufacturing, HR etc., particularly in the context of auto industry.
Customers like to deal with professionals who deliver as per commitment. Initially, there could a struggle settling down in their new role; but, as you deliver, customers will support. Auto components industry e.g. has reached a level where we have fairly well-set supply chain in India. Now is the time when these companies need to scale up, bring in global work practices, infuse technologies in their working.
The professionals who travel around the world and know this should become entrepreneurs and set up such projects. Since they understand the expectations of customers, they will be successful. Challenges like financial management, getting people, etc., can be overcome by proper planning. I would like to see these professionals bring in some passion to the industry. It is time we professionals give back something to this industry, which has given us everything.
Is there scope for start-ups in the auto industry?
Well, we see there is a lot of scope for niche players in the auto components industry. As I mentioned earlier, there are several Japanese Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies looking at the Indian market. These are SME guys with some very good niche technologies and products. They are looking at tying up with Indian partners. We see this as a good chance for Indian entrepreneurs to join hands with some of the top-class companies in the business.
These companies bring in global work culture, technology-oriented products. This is something auto OEMs are looking for from Indian suppliers as they expand in India. As we move towards, may be, 5 million cars in next decade, I see much more scope for new start-ups in technology products in auto sector. Safety products, usage of new materials, engine and transmission, tooling engineering are some of the areas which will see lots of innovation.
Any other points of interest.
We also have a joint venture with a Japanese company, for bringing Japanese professionals to India to impart knowledge in specific areas. These are experienced professionals who have worked in OEMs like Honda, Toyota, BMW etc., and are available now. It is a good way for the Indian industry to learn the global work culture and systems from these professionals. Besides they also help with their relationships with the OEMs.