A Memo to Self: Mission Mangal movie and a PSU Engineer
A journey for self-reliance by Indian PSU and government organization
Today is both Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan. Apart from that a very special day for celebrating, the self-reliance and technological voyage of India as ISRO completes its 50 years. As a remembrance "Mangalyaan" movie releases for celebrating Mars Orbit Mission (MOM) success story.
As an Engineer in a Navaratna PSU, I view this movie as a great initiative to acknowledge the unknown makers and shapers of our country. MOM is an inspirational case study for Project Management. It's a reflection of, how a team in any Government Organisation, involved in the technical sphere works beyond the stereotypical view in public forum like "not moving with time", "procrastinating" and "corrupt". Here I put forward the journey of a technocrat (Engineer/Scientist) in a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) or Research Organisations like DRDO, ISRO, BARC, etc.
- At first, it takes tremendous hard work and perseverance to be selected through all India entrance examinations as an Engineer/ Scientist in any Government PSUs or research organization. After being selected, a candidate goes through different phases of training and posted mostly in a very remote area that is away from the top tier cities and his/her home state. He/ She adjusts to the new culture, food, and language of that local area where she/he is posted. An experience of mini India is always felt in the closed campus of the township broadening an individual's outlook and accepting other cultures.
- Initial years of job experience is tough. Unlike in software industries where average team age is in the twenties or thirties, he/she works in a project where the average age is in the forties and fifties. Most of the time his/her subordinates’ age is double of his/her own age. So, conflict management and negotiation skills become primary assets.
- As he/she progresses in career, experiences adhering rules and regulations comes first compared to the success or timely completion of the project. Such as the tendering and procurement process, choosing a supplier or vendor through L1, the delegation of power, financial queries for audit point of view, etc. norms must be fulfilled which takes an ample amount of time.
- Resource crunch (Man, Material, Machine, and Budget) is found in most of the projects. Since, as per norms he/she can't hire talent on his/her wish, can't procure machine or material in less time span. There are at least 12-15 months of waiting time, though the project has the required budget. Many time, a project suffers due to external reasons like change of government and geopolitics. Vendor development and strive for better supply chain management is tough in the domestic country where less technological penetration is there.
- Salary hike, fast track career promotions, frequent onsite visits, etc are a mirage and nowhere comparable to his/her counterpart in a private MNCs.
Still, if any project succeeds in a given time frame, then all Engineers/Scientists working in the project be applauded, acknowledged and bench-marked. To come out from all odds, they might have become ardent, persevered and lead by putting their project at the topmost priority with envisaging future success. Not giving priority to the naysayer, listening to self-conscience for a better tomorrow, they build a better person inside them who propel not to leave till succeed. Though they are not covered by mainstream media and their tremendous effort is hidden by the mere political milestones, it's no doubt they are the real makers and shapers of India.
From laying train tracks to flying in Mars trajectory, from manufacturing own fighter Aircraft (Tejas by HAL) to built own Nuclear submarine (by BARC), from building dams to feeding whole India, from exploring Oil and gas (by ONGC) to strengthening country with Steel of frames (by SAIL), from building nuclear power plant to missile-like Shakti (ASAT by DRDO), from Delhi Metro to Bhupen Hazarika, Bogibeel bridge, from thermal power supply (by NTPC) to solar power dream, from own telecom industry to fibre optics connected country, from laying Pipelines (by GAIL) to making road tunnel of 10km length,etc are very few in list of technical achievements after independence.
If India ranks 3rd place in the world economy (PPP) and different elite clubs of World in nuclear energy, space & missiles technology, etc it’s because of the self-commitment made by those unnamed and unknown engineers/scientists who forgot all of their pain to realise self-reliance. So, Mangalyaan comes to be a tribute to all of them. Their own entrepreneurship spirit in project management and strive to achieve make them distinguished. Movies of a similar type may be made for other projects too. Watching this type of movies, youth get a chance to meet personas which shaped with technology. Viswesaray, Vikram Sarabhai, Homi Jahangir Bhaba, Abdul Kalam, E. Sridharan, Ratan Tata, etc are few in the ocean.
It's really challenging being part of the techno-scientific entity of government. Youth should experience it at least for a period of 2-5 years which may help to enhance their entrepreneur and industrial spirit to make something new with having or not having resources. PSUs are really torchbearer of the country. I feel proud and lucky enough being part and experiencing all the stuff required to become a project manager which makes me professionally and personally competent to become a good leader.