How would you summarise your experience of the last 19 years with Sargam?
The journey at Sargam has been a roller-coaster ride for me. There are ups and downs, but the entire experience itself is very enjoyable. I come from a commerce background, but at Sargam, I got a chance to work in different areas ranging from accounts to production and quality control, and eventually become a part of the management team. This ride with Sargam gave me the experience and confidence to constantly push myself to take on new and more complex challenges.
In my entire career here, I have seen Sargam Industries grow from one plant to 4 plants at different locations around India and become a global supplier for electroplating.
Do you remember your first day at Sargam how was it? Back then did you think you’d spend 19 years?
I joined Sargam’s establishment in Nasik as a junior accounts officer on 27 January 2003. At that time, the Internet, as well as accounting softwares were pretty new, and most of the accounting was manual and involved working with large stacks of files. Being trained in the Tally accounting software, I executed its implementation at the company and we started maintaining the firm’s accounting data in the software with a proper inventory. VIsiting prestigious clients like ABB and observing their accounting and billing practices helped me improve our accounting as well.
The parts that we receive for electroplating are treated as the property of the customer. Sargam will plate and send the parts back to the client in batches as per their demand. For instance, if the customer has sent 100 parts for plating, they will ask for batches of 20 parts at certain intervals as per their need. At the end of the year, the client would ask us to recalculate their ledger and account for all the parts. We used to face certain challenges in this area we resolved by computerizing the maintenance of the inventory. As more and more data was generated, many key ratios and figures regarding raw material availability became easily available, and our speed was improved!
Coming to the second question, I never thought I would stay this long at Sargam. The manual accounting that we had, in the beginning, was quite demanding work, and I thought how would I survive it? But I took this as a challenge and started working to solve the problems. Additionally, I had very kind and supportive superiors.
What kept you going for the last 19 years?
Frankly speaking, it is the new opportunities and challenges that came along the way. While facing these challenges gained exposure to new areas; I rediscovered myself tapping abilities I did not know I possessed. In the early years, I was focused on accounting and billing. However, with the passage of time, I gained knowledge and training relating to other aspects of electroplating and the functioning of the plant.
What are some of the key achievements at Sargam that you are proud of?
I would have to say it was the setting up of the Sargam plant at Baroda. When the idea of setting up a new plant at Baroda (Gujarat) was proposed, I expressed interest in working on the same. Accordingly, I was charged with setting up the new plant. While offering the new opportunity, the Sargam group’s directors Lokesh and Devesh Shevde also made me aware of the challenges in the project and assured full support. I shifted to Gujarat and encountered many challenges including cultural shock and bureaucratic hurdles when working with government agencies.
Setting up the Baroda plant, and bringing a positive change in the firm’s accounting practices in my early years are my best memories at Sargam.
Tell us about some of the most challenging moments that you had at Sargam? How did you find a solution and navigate around it?
Staff shortage was one of our prime issues at the Baroda plant when it was just made operational. At one point, I had to monitor and help out with every process from unloading the trucks to electroplating parts, issuing quality control certificates, and finally even following up for payments. With time, all these issues were resolved. Now, I am one of the executive directors of the Baroda unit.
Secondly, I had never really experienced a customer audit before I shifted from Nasik to Baroda. At the Baroda plant, we received an export order from a reputed client in Switzerland for GCB parts. The approval process for this project was underway for 3-4 years. The client had very challenging requirements and fulfilling them was not easy. We had to significantly change our mindset and our infrastructure. Now, we are the only electroplating supplier and exporter to the client for certain key components and Sargam’s production and safety infrastructure is up-to-date and in line with global standards.
How do you look at all the changes and transformations at Sargam over the last 19 years?
In the last few years, Sargam has transformed from a domestic electroplating service provider to a global supplier of electroplated parts. In this transformation, our infrastructure has changed from a small conventional setup to a world-class PLC-based electroplating setup and testing equipment that meets global norms. From one unit in Nasik to 4 locations around India, Sargam has grown into a globally recognized electroplating service provider.
Tell us one of Sargam’s values that is closest to your heart and why?
Keep yourself upgrading. That’s what I think Sargam is all about. To give a simple example, earlier, we used to calculate the plating area of components by hand. Later, we outsourced it to a software service provider. However, owing to some issues in the outsourcing process, we later implemented the software-driven measurement at Sargam itself. While implementing this major upgradation, I also upgraded my own capabilities. Currently, we are in the process of finding and implementing software for the efficient tracking of electroplated components. To overcome this issue, I am learning programming languages such as Python myself.
Have how you changed over the past 19 years at Sargam?
When I joined Sargam, my knowledge was limited to finance. Over the years, I have gained exposure to other areas and learned how they are interconnected. I have evolved from an average accountant to a business leader. A key change that one must bring when the responsibilities and the exposure increase is that one should control one’s temper. Many colleagues at Sargam say that the greatest change within me is that I have learned to not lose my calm in critical situations.
What is your advice to young employees working at Sargam?
Many young people change jobs when faced with complex challenges. I would say problems and challenges exist everywhere. If you actively think about how to overcome these issues and act accordingly, you’ll love your work. We must always ask the question “Why is the situation the way it is? What can I do to improve it?
Additionally, one must always strive to gain exposure beyond one’s core job.
That is the way to go forward!