Tag Archives: automobile industry

Awards And Recognition

Recognition is a wily, tricky little thing.

Some people get it so easily that it goes to their heads. They make mistakes and their short-lived euphoria soon gives way to crippling frustration.

And some people achieve recognition the harder way; after a lot of struggle, pain, and misery. By then they become so inured and so deeply humbled that recognition loses its sheen. They remain grounded and keep adding new milestones through sheer will-power and self-motivation. I consider myself lucky to belong to this second category.

On 21st September 2018, I participated in Volkswagen’s Sarvottam Skill Championship for dealerships in their Gurgaon Training Center as a Lead CR, Sales. It was as per prior nomination by my dealership.

Although my colleagues said that I was a strong contender because of my long experience, I personally had no expectations whatsoever as my association with Volkswagen so far had been for only last 6 months. I was there only to enjoy the learning experience.

A customer care manager’s job in a car dealership is, in fact, one of the most thankless ones in this world. You hardly ever get any appreciation for all those little things you do quietly behind the scenes that enable the other departments in achieving their targets and walking away with all the awards and applause. When you slave like that for almost 2 decades in a highly male-dominated environment, you kind of lose all interest in awards and you just learn to take life as it comes.

It was with this nonchallant state of mind that I took part in all the different rounds of the CR Sales Skill contest.

The gold winner’s name for Sales CR profile was announced towards the end. I was completely taken aback when that name turned out to be mine. For the first time in my life, I was a gold medallist!

Here are the pics.

On my way home, even the evening sky carried a huge rainbow; specially for me, it seemed.

But, of course, no celebration is complete till you share it with your family and all those friends who stood with you through the tough days…..

I have now qualified for the National Round due in December 2018 in Pune and I hope my calmness of mind lasts through this event as well.

Do wish me good luck, dear readers. I need all the good wishes I can gather.

Women In Automotive Industry

After achieving an M.Sc. in Mathematics i
n 1989 from Delhi University with a first class followed by 10 years’ work experience of marketing and training, I finally stumbled into an automobile dealership in Delhi in 2004. Since then, I have been slogging and now I am a Customer Relations Manager in a car workshop. This is generally the highest position a woman manages to reach in an automobile dealership.

My knowledge of Pure Maths is now completely erased from my mind and those 5 years of college that I single-mindedly devoted to studies, often sacrificing a lot of fun I could have had otherwise, have all gone waste. But I refuse to let myself have any regrets and I prefer to pat myself on the back for being what I am now; independent, financially and otherwise, bold, and confident. This was, after all, my aim of studying hard.

Today, as I look back, I feel extremely grateful to the automobile industry for providing me the kind of growth and job stability that I didn’t find elsewhere in other industries. It helped me in keeping my kitchen fire burning, financing my daughter’s education, and paying our bills while my husband followed his passion and tried to gain a foothold in theater as an actor. The most important thing is that it has helped me evolve as a human being too.

Indian automobile industry is, fortunately, still growing at a steady pace and the dealerships too continue to upgrade themselves as per the improving living standards and changing expectations of their customers. 

The dealers, however,  still have a long way to go in ensuring a safe and healthy environment for each one of us including women. Based on my last 13 years’ experience in various auto dealerships, here is an account of what I observed and continue to face as an employee.

Automobile dealerships are powered by the sweat and blood of its hard-working employees. In most auto dealerships, you will find people being compelled to work beyond normal working hours, which are already extended to 9-12 hours’shifts. They have a 6-day week and sometimes, the weekly offs are cancelled too. Holidays such as those of Christmas, Good Friday, Id, etc, which are taken for granted in PSUs, are never given. In the name of multi-tasking, one person sometimes does work of 2 or 3 people. Often, PF/ESI deductions are done without getting these funds accounted for. The employees don’t get the benefits of these deductions and the money is simply siphoned off to a hidden account. 

The dealer principals, on the other hand, invest their wealth in real estate and other money-spinning ventures. Their children generally study abroad. So next time when you find a teenager arrogantly scoffing at what you just said in a foreign accent in a board meeting, don’t be shocked! Just keep smiling, as you would at a toddler with cerelac slathered all over itself till you move on to another dealer or till the toddler and its parent both grow up.

Dealer principals keep preaching about focusing on customer satisfaction, but most of them don’t realize that sad eyes silently reveal to customers what artificial smiles on brightly painted lips try to conceal.

Most dealerships in Delhi NCR are in fact extremely profit-oriented and don’t shy away from sounding like bloodthirsty capitalists, as far as employee welfare is concerned. They look at employees as costs, rather than assets. That’s why I would never, ever advise my daughter to consider a career in an automobile dealership, unless, of course, the government steps in and takes strict action against unscrupulous labour practices followed by erring dealerships. The government must also establish some awards for dealerships with high levels of employee satisfaction. Greedy as they always are, for the sake of earning these awards at least, the dealerships might try to make things better for their employees.

From a dealer’s point of view, I agree that surviving in a country like India with rampant corruption and an uncooperative, slow-moving bureaucracy is very difficult. You need to put in huge investment to put up a dealership in the first place and to maintain it, you must achieve a certain amount of profitability. But there has to be a limit somewhere. As fellow human beings, you’ve got to be just and take only what you deserve.

Perhaps you would ask if things are so bad, why isn’t anyone complaining and trying to do something about it? Well, lots of people have rebelled in the past and still do that, but the automotive organisations are rich, powerful, and influential and the labour courts and the judiciary are weak and toothless. They fail woefully in providing a solution to the ordinary, disgruntled, economically impoverished employee whose only priority in life is to be able to live with dignity without having to beg. So it’s more practical to just move on and find another job. This is the theme of my short story ‘A Tale of The Underdog’ that I wrote recently.

Now, let me come to the happy part. God has His own cute ways of dropping happy surprises in your lap, like this video by BookServicing Car Repairs on 8 Mar.17, International Women’s Day. They had me as one of their 2 speakers right at the beginning.

To be chosen among so many out there feels just too great! I still haven’t come out of the happy bubble this has put me in…Thanks once again, Bookservicing!

Here is the link to the video…


My Humble Beginning…In Harpreet Ford…

A few days ago, while cleaning out my almirah, I came across this old pic. It’s about 15 years old, I think, clicked around the beginning of the 21st century. It made me feel very nostalgic.


If you look closely, you will find me right in the center, just next to Mr. Soundar Rajan (Service Manager), the only one wearing a tie. Almost the entire team of Harpreet Ford, Vasant Kunj branch, is here. This includes Customer Relations (Asha Shrivastav, Shobha Pathak, Sumit Kapoor, me as Manager – Customer Relations), Parts Department (Mr. Dubey & Subhash), Front Office Manager (Mr. Ashok Verma), Accounts (Mehtab and Sati Mam), IT (Manoj), Floor In-charge (Akhtar), Bodyshop Advisor, Service Advisors (Arvind, Sadiq), Pantry Person (Santosh), EDP Assistant (Pradeep), and Technicians.

It was through Harpreet Ford that I  got the chance to join the fast growing Automobile Industry. I attribute  whatever I am today to this organization.

My special thanks go to Rajan Sir (Mr. Soundar Rajan). I think the whole team will always remain indebted to him for all the knowledge and inspiration he gave us even after we had all moved on. He strongly believed that the best way to lead is through personal example. That’s why we all remember him for what he always stood up for, honesty, perseverance, hard work, courtesy, and most important, proper grooming because customer interaction is all about making the best first impressions.

I still recall some of his favorite lines that he often repeated during meetings.

  1. “Be punctual. Come on time, work hard as per processes and systems, and go on time.” Being a family man himself, he disliked making people work beyond normal working hours. This was what made him so popular.
  2. “A dealership can succeed only if its 3 ps are proper: people, process, and place (infrastructure). No dealer is perfect in reality and some of these Ps are always deficient. That is what our struggle is all about.”
  3. “An organization will be successful only if right people are placed at right places at the right time.”

In around 2008, this workshop caught massive fire. Thank God, no one was hurt. It was subsequently shifted to Okhla, where it stands now.

It was through Rajan Sir’s recommendation that I got a second chance to work in his team. This time, it was with the BMW cars Dealer Bird Automotive in Gurgaon; he was General Manager – After Sales and I was Senior Manager – Customer Relations. My stint in Bird turned out to be a great learning experience and it also helped me get a strong foothold in the Premium Segment of the Automobile Industry.

Although we work in different organizations at present, I still think of Rajan Sir when I face tough challenges at work related to team management and achievement of organizational goals and objectives. I ask myself how he would have handled them if he had to face them. I still  recall how he used to get the whole team together for frequent meetings and motivate us to achieve great results. We were always a winning team. His overall bearing always exuded a tremendous amount of self-confidence and he always spoke with a strong conviction in his beliefs. These are the qualities that I tried to imbibe during my interaction with him and I attribute my achievements till date to this.

A close family member once told me that a good manager can’t always be a good human being. But from whatever I know of his personal life as a family man, Rajan Sir is, I think, an exception to this rule. Not only is he an excellent manager, he is also a great human being. In retrospect, I feel now that being a good human being is the most important thing because everything else, success, joy, fame, money, follows from this premise.

Wherever you all are, dear Friends and ex-colleagues, Sumit, Asha, Shobha, and Rajan Sir, I wish you all the very best in life!