The sparkles in the star: Women at Mercedes-Benz India are in rev mode

The women at Mercedes-Benz India say that the culture at the three-pointed star firm empowers them to thrive and grow. 

By Divya Subramaniam and Radhika Dave calendar 23 Mar 2024 Views icon8991 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The sparkles in the star: Women at Mercedes-Benz India are in rev mode

Mercedes-Benz India has been steadily increasing the number of women in its workforce. The company’s stated goal is to have 20 percent diversity in its workforce across all roles. To achieve this, it has been adopting several measures including setting the right policy, training and tweaking the infrastructure. The resulting increase in the number of women working and succeeding in their roles at the company has led to a boost of the correct work ethic within its offices and shop floors. Vyankatesh Kulkarni, Head of Operations, Mercedes-Benz India said, "In the last one year, we have already started seeing a significant shift in the work environment, and overall, there is an increase in professionalism, focus, eye to detail, and levels of quality." It seems to be a win-win situation.

We spoke to some women across the shopfloor and the offices who all said that the company had helped them overcome the unique challenges that they faced as women in the automobile industry, and supported them while they learnt and grew.

Name: Ashwini Jadhav
Role: Shopfloor team member

Ashwini Jadhav is proud of the quality product she makes.

“It has only been a few months since I have joined here. But already there is so much that I have learned. I feel immense pride in working for this brand — both because it is a luxury brand as well as because I feel satisfaction in the high-quality product that I make. Everyone here is encouraging and motivates me to learn more.”

Name: Shuchita Mahajan
Role: Manager, Supply Chain Management

Shuchita Mahajan feels valued at Mercedes-Benz India because of its open door policy. 

“I have been working at Mercedes-Benz since August 2023. I am really enjoying my work here. I am continuously learning new things. The one thing that I appreciate most about this company is that they have an open-door policy. Because the management is willing to entertain my ideas and listen to my concerns, I feel valued here. I have been here only for six months, but already I can see that the management is very concerned with people development and grooming its people. So I like the fact that the company wants to help us evolve and grow.

Name: Jayshri Ingole
Role: Shopfloor team member

Jayshri Ingole is thrilled to make cars that celebrities use.

“I have finished one year at this company. I love working here. I have worked in other companies, but I like this place because this company appreciates discipline and quality. I have wanted to join Mercedes-Benz for a long time. My husband, who works here, inspired me to join, because he would tell me that Mercedes-Benz makes the best quality vehicles. I also know that celebrities use these cars and felt that I would like to be part of creating them.

One of the things that I love about Mercedes-Benz is the discipline that comes with the work place. The team leaders here are so good that each one of them has helped and motivated me to learn. They reiterate that I must learn all different kinds of work so that I can be flexible.

According to me, the qualities that are needed to succeed here are confidence and discipline.”

Name: Ishika Sonkusare
Role: Shopfloor Team Member

Ishika Sonkusare says she has learnt many new kinds of work here.

“There are a lot of things that I like about this company. For instance, the support that I get from everyone. I get to learn a lot here. Many new kinds of work. I joined here a year ago. I heard about a vacancy here from some friends. And I was excited to work in a place like Mercedes Benz. To be successful here, first of all you need to have the necessary skills. Then you need to have the desire and excitement to work here. You need to be interested in learning new things. I hope that some years down the line, I am able to motivate others in the way that my seniors here have been able to motivate me.”

Name: Priyanka Sai Talla
Role: Manager, Process and Project Engineering

Priyanka Sai Talla and Shreya Desai both feel believing in yourself goes a long way in doing well in the automobile industry.

“I am currently the only woman in the entire assembly planning section. I have been handling nearly all the models on the line and I have never faced any resistance, just because I am a woman. My opinion matters and I am the decision maker. I have always been given many opportunities to grow. I also appreciate that I get to lead multiple technologies and therefore learn. So, on the whole, I would say that men and women are not treated differently here. Everyone is equal.

Based on my five years' experience, I would emphasise that self-confidence and believing in yourself goes a long way. Whenever someone starts out in a field there is always stereotyping. I think we must just not listen to all that. Just focus on developing skills — technical as well as soft skills. And then wait to be at the right place at the right time.”

Name: Shreya Desai
Role: Manager, Industrial Engineering and Mercedes-Benz production system

“As a fresher, I am blessed to be working in an environment like Mercedes-Benz. Despite being a fresher I can voice my opinions and I get to contribute to major decisions. And we get encouragement from our seniors and colleagues, so it is a really good learning experience.

I would urge young girls who wish to get into the automobile industry — don’t limit yourselves. Come out of your comfort zone. And most importantly, surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and support your decision.”

Name: Maithili Aadhye
Role: General Manager – Assembly SUV, Testing and Finishing, Mercedes-Benz Cars

Maithili Aadhye (middle) joined for two months and has stayed for 15 years.

“This will be my 15th year in this organisation. I joined way back in 2009 and one of my first tasks was to type in the part numbers, print out the labels, cut and paste them on the trollies on the line. So that’s where I started. It has been an incredible journey. When I started over here my objective was to work here for a couple of months and then go do my masters. I had given some entrance exams, etc. But then I saw that most of my peers were unhappy with their jobs and that wasn’t the case here. It is a very inclusive atmosphere. I decided to stay on. The company is extremely supportive. It is like a family. We run as one unit. And we really do walk the talk.

I am a mother to a one-year-old girl. One of my biggest worries was what I would do once I have a child. But about two years ago we started a creche facility here. I bring my daughter here and she is here 10 hours a day. And I don’t think that as a wife and mother I could ask for anything more. Because I see a lot of women struggle post their maternity break. And I haven’t. One primary reason is the kinds of facilities that the company offers us.

I joined as an intern, a project trainee for a period of two months and have stayed for 15 years and counting. I tell myself that I won’t come to work if I don’t feel like going to work on any given Monday. So far, I’ve always looked forward to working on a Monday. No Monday blues here.

I have moved several profiles over the years. Somewhere down the line I will do something different from what I am doing now. I look forward to just staying updated with what is happening and expanding my knowledge base.

My role model in the company would be Anita Khisti. She is the first female General Manager that we’ve had. She is our Revenue Controller. I admire the way she conducts herself and how she carries out her role.”

Name: Ashwini Sonkusare
Role: Manager, Process and Project Engineering, Strategy Topics

Ashwini Sonkusare says employees feel empowered here.

"My role model would be Maithili Aadhye. Because she has moved from an intern to my profile and now she has become a General Manager.

I would like to highlight our empowerment here as women at Mercedes-Benz. Our bosses have empowered us to make decisions on our own. So, we don’t have to ask our bosses each thing and get delayed. So, empowerment at the organisational level is also one of the things that the company practices.

The focus is on vertical as well as horizontal growth. The company also motivates us to explore new areas and take up new challenges in different departments."

Name: Gayatri Potnis
Role: Manager, Procurement co-ordination for CKD Network

"I have been working with the firm now for almost six years. I have never been treated differently here, just because I am a woman. I have worked in Germany for a few months and I find there is gender equality here as well as in Germany. We don’t feel that someone is doubting our ability. We help each other out.

The culture at Mercedes-Benz Germany as well as here is the same. It is inclusive and encouraging. I am very proud to be working here. According to me, sincerity and persistence is the key to succeeding in this company. No one finds it difficult to work here. There is mutual trust. Being agile, being proactive, and being disciplined are common qualities among most of the employees here. That is the Mercedes mindset."

Name: Divyakshi Jain
Role: Manager, Procurement and Global Sourcing

“I’ve been with Mercedes-Benz for the past eight years. I have enjoyed my two terms of pregnancies here. Mercedes-Benz has been a second home to me. Procurement is a new role for me and I have taken it up along with my role as a mother for the second time. I work with time zones that are 3.5 hours ahead of India as well as 12 hours behind. Yet, the company is so flexible that I have no issues. I have my personal space whenever I want and I am available for work, whenever needed. So it is a win-win for me and the company. The company gave me space whenever I needed it during my pregnancy. My colleagues pampered me and made me feel comfortable. It has really been a fruitful journey in the context of my growth and on a personal level as well.

This is not just my experience alone. The management is quite flexible towards us and similarly as employees, we know that this is our company, this is our place. We are the people behind its growth and this organisation is present to help us grow. So that is the kind of environment we get here and that is the kind of feeling all the employees have.

Each individual here is being analysed to see what they are good at and what could be good for them. Role change is part of our culture here. Every individual gets an opportunity to change their horizons. It is up to you to decide how you want to be. They take your wishes into consideration and then they groom you in that direction.”

Photos by Manobhava Baruah

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's March 15, 2024 issue.

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