Geetha Baskaran, Managing Director of Suba Plastics, on collaborative working with OEMs, exploring JVs in Europe in the next few months, how women contribute to a more successful and happy workplace, and some advice for budding entrepreneurs.
With more than 35 years of excellence in plastic injection moulding tech, Coimbatore-based Suba Plastics is a Tier 1 supplier for leading companies including TVS Motor Co, Bosch, Valeo, Gates and Pricol. The company is also looking at the possibility to expand into newer areas like aerospace and defence. Managing Director Geetha Baskaran, who spearheads the design and development of products at Suba Plastics, speaks to Sricharan R on collaborative working with OEMs, exploring JVs in Europe in the next few months, how women contribute to a more successful and happy workplace, and some advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Suba Plastics has been looking to enter the defence and aerospace sector. What's the latest on this?
There have been a lot of enquiries and discussions are going on. In a few months, we will be investing to develop products for the same. At present, we are working on some internal R&D projects.
How has the downturn in the auto industry impacted the company?
It has been to the extent of 30-40 percent. We expect the path of recovery to be from April 2020. But the company is ready to match the demand for new trends in the automotive market. Be it the EV space or the new emission norms, we are on track with industry needs.
We are working on many enquiries from our customers in the EV space. We have not finalised anything. Also, we are ready with parts that are required for BS VI. The parts for multiple OEMs are in various stages of market launch.
The global megatrend of lightweighting has seen a fair number of metal parts being replaced by high-performance plastics. Is there pressure from OEMs to develop new products?
This is mainly due to the fact that plastics are as strong as metal and have strength along with abrasion-resistance. We have converted over 10 such parts based on the customer requirements and are looking for more such opportunities. The company’s R&D facility works closely with OEMs in the developmental stage to match their requirements. Recently, we increased the number of people working in the R&D centre.
Have you entered any new export markets?
We are going to enter a few new European countries in the next few months. We are looking at the possibility of JVs in such markets to be on par with the quality demands. We are in discussion with a couple of organisations for it.
What has been your most challenging project so far in this role? What learnings would you like to pass on to your subordinates?
Designing and developing new parts for import substitution, and selection of raw material for metal replacement were the two challenging projects so far. To reach the No. 1 position, we need to be cost-competitive and be a global competitor. In many cases, China has already set a quality and cost target. We need to exceed these expectations to ensure that we get the order. We also need to ensure that all properties of the metal parts are addressed while ensuring the benefits of being plastic. Be it lightweighting or cost-effectiveness, we work on it. We work according to the mantra of, 'Nothing is impossible if we try sincerely'.
What are the qualities that women bring to the table which can contribute to a more successful and happy workplace?
Dedication, attitude, multi-tasking and good character are some of the key qualities they deliver. These qualities play a major role in delivering results.
What is your career ambition and how do you plan to reach your goals?
My ambition is to make youngsters get involved more with the work they do with complete dedication and build their knowledge. Hence, we take a number of initiatives in training project trainees, interns, apprentices at our organisation. A few people who were supported by us are now employed at better positions worldwide.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
It is all about practice and mindset. We as women are used to multi-tasking and this has become part of our everyday routine. Of course, family support is the key.
Vital life lessons that you would like to share with budding entrepreneurs or young professionals in this field?
Treat life and work separately. Problems in life or at work should be dealt with a positive approach. We should face challenges with a positive attitude and need to understand that without challenges we cannot grow. Hence, our approach should be to learn and grow.
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