“All about leadership and management!”

The Plant Head's job is possibly one of the most challenging jobs in the manufacturing sector. It is where the board room meets the shopfloor! And when the market is going through a tough time, the job becomes tougher. It's true that the automotive industry has started to come back on track with the last two quarters clocking good numbers.

But let us not forget that the time prior to that (many, many months, in fact) was really a tough one. And Rajesh Khosla, the Location Head & Plant Manager with Continental Automotive India's Manesar plant, surely knows how to deal with challenges. With the volatility in the Indian automotive market, his key challenge has been to keep costs optimal despite fluctuating sales.

"We have witnessed a surge in demand for some platforms which demanded that we boost our capacities in a very short time. We have cost management programs to dive deep into projects for areas of opportunity for cost avoidance and reduction," he shares.

Another big challenge in the last year has been the drive to implement standards and to live by them. "It has been a very eventful and satisfying journey so far in terms of the evolution of 5S in the plant. We introduced a drive for 5S in all areas of the plant. A strong focus on quality and the goal to achieve top market position are also strategic areas which can be achieved by initiatives like 5S, Read Across and Technical Cleanliness," Khosla adds.

Qualities for success

And what qualities must Plant Manager possess to be successful in today's world? "The most important quality or capability in my opinion is leadership and management," says Khosla. He believes that a plant manager must be a good communicator.

He / she, as the local representative, should be able to effectively transfer the parent organisation's policies/ strategies/messages to the people and augment the image and influence of the parent company. He / she must also be a strategist, always focusing on future strategy in terms of Cost, Quality, People Culture.

"The most important stakeholders for a plant manager are the employees. The Plant Manager must work on the People Culture by focusing on competence management in all areas of work and also on diversity," Khosla adds.

For the complete story, please see the September 2016 issue: