Here is what auto industry can learn from Indian Space Research Organisation, says Dr. Pawan Goenka

ISRO recently achieved the distinction of landing the Chandrayaan-3 mission on the moon in addition to launching a mission to study the sun.

By Shahkar Abidi calendar 13 Sep 2023 Views icon5627 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Here is what auto industry can learn from Indian Space Research Organisation, says  Dr. Pawan Goenka

Here is what India's auto industry can learn from ISRO, according to Dr. Pawan Goenka, Chairman, SCALe, and Chairman, IN-SPACe, Department of Space, to push auto component exports to US$100 billion by 2030 from US$20 billion currently.

ISRO recently achieved the distinction of landing the Chandrayaan-3 mission on the moon in addition to launching a mission to study the sun. Goenka was speaking at the 63rd annual session organised by the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), a lobbying body of auto component suppliers.

The right culture and no blame game: The auto industry is known for collaborating across departments and companies. However, when anything goes wrong, more often than not, the blame game starts.

However, for ISRO, which has its centres in 20 places spread across India, with over 13,500 people working, that is not the case, Goenka points out. According to him, everyone takes equal responsibility for it.

Openness: There is a culture of openness. No one hides the bad news during review meetings or in the preparation of various reports. The problem is that hiding bad news comes back to haunt you later, added Goenka. The auto industry should emulate it. 

No mincing of words: In ISRO, no one is afraid to raise their hand and question even the Chairman of ISRO in their reviews. The Chairperson, on his or her part, humbly accepts if they were not entirely correct in their thought process. This culture, according to Goenka, has evolved over a long number of years and can not happen overnight. "Can the auto industry emulate that and take issues to the table so as to work around them to find a solution?" asks Goenka. 

Adherence to process: Very often, the quality problem in an auto company arises because someone down the supply chain may not have adhered to the due process. Goenka claims that he has never seen that happening in ISRO, as people are not even attempting to take shortcuts to the processes.

Technology: Goenka pointed out that India's development in space is one sector in which the country is counted among the leading nations. A lot of behind-the-scenes technological progress is happening at ISRO in the fields of advanced electronics, optics, radars, collision avoidance, heat pipes, thermal insulation, and thermal management. Many of these technological advances are also related to the auto industry. He believes that it is an excellent opportunity for the auto industry to take advantage of it. 

Creating a technical ladder: The auto industry often struggles with creating a ladder of technical experts in their organisation. Offering a perspective from his own experience at Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), Goenka explains that his earlier company struggled for many years to put up a technical ladder. In contrast, at ISRO, there are about 495 people who work at a level similar to that of a joint secretary, which is equal to the entire number of Joint Secretaries collectively posted in Delhi. "These are technical people who reach that level on merit and not on other managerial considerations."

Leveraging retired scientists: Even though the auto component companies have done well in this regard, they can further enhance their efforts by leveraging the immense wealth of retired scientists. In ISRO, the knowledge of such scientists is well leveraged.

Lower attrition: As per Goenka, since the past couple of years, there has been concern about an increasing attrition level. When asked, he was told that it had increased to 1%. He continued that it is much lower than the attrition level in the auto industry. Goenka added that the reason he found that people do not often leave ISRO despite modest government salaries, is the pride that gets inculcated in their work.  Goenka further adds that it is a challenge for the auto industry, to create a similar sense of pride in working, irrespective of company.

Diversity: Goenka pointed out that while many of the Indian auto companies are working to bring greater gender diversity to their workplace, the effort has not been an easy one. However, in the case of ISRO, the percentage of female employees stands at around 17%, with no visible sense of a glass ceiling, gender biases, etc. 


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