Unparalleled work satisfaction keeps us going even during the pandemic!

Mr Abhijit Patil, the head of the operations department at Saral Designs, shares his experience of working on the mask making machine and the challenges posed due to the lockdown. “It was the honest efforts and dedication of each one in the team that lead to the success of this project,” he says proudly, as we discuss the process and his contribution to this project.

What is your role in the organization?

I am heading the operations department, in which we look after the distribution and after-sales service. Timely delivery of the machine to the client, manufacturing quality supervision, installation of the machine at client place, the supply of raw material to the client and the after-sales service and maintenance are some of the tasks I am responsible for along with my team.

What was your reaction to the first lockdown, and did you think it will affect your job?

I did not expect the magnitude of the pandemic and resulting lockdown to be this huge. Honestly, I thought it would be a matter of a couple of months. But the thought of losing my job did not touch my mind because we had a few projects in the pipeline and manufacturing of sanitary pads (which was the primary focus) comes under essential services. So, no matter what happens, the production and sales cannot stop. We heaved a sigh of relief at our luck! As for the lockdown, our company had switched to work from home before the official lockdown was declared. Hence, we were prepared for the coming restrictions and changes in the method of working,

How was the decision of developing a mask-making machine taken?

The impulse to move beyond the sanitary pads making machine had touched us for a long time. I coordinate with the existing clientele, and they all were suggesting we make some modifications and upgrade our machines. But it was only during the lockdown that the project of making a mask-making machine began. Due to the pandemic, the enquiries for a mask-making machine had started to flood in from our existing as well as new clients, in addition to the sanitary pads making machine. The decision did not come as a surprise, but the execution was challenging for all the departments.

Since the nature of your work is outdoor, what difficulties did you face due to the restrictions on mobility?

During the lockdown, I managed most of the work from home with the strong support of my team. At that time, the operations team had ten people working in it. We have expanded the team now. But during this project, everyone coordinated really well, and only about 10% of the work had to be done on-site or in the office.

How was your experience of working from home?

At that time, we did not have an option but to continue working from home. So whether or not we prefer it was out of the question. What I found difficult was the switch between work and personal life while being at home all the time. Usually, when I leave the office, I try not to take work home so that the balance can be maintained. But when you are at home all day, it is tough to adhere to that axiom.

What kept you motivated to work during the pandemic?

The fact that we still had work while a lot of people lost their jobs made me feel very fortunate. To add to it, the project we had was beneficial for the society, which provided a sense of satisfaction that while people are just sitting idle at home, we are actually doing something meaningful. That kept me going.

Do you have any experience to share when a colleague had to go out of their way to keep the work going?

I remember, on the very first day of working at Mahindra, we were all in full coverage PPE suits. It was the birthday of one of our teammates. Now considering how birthdays are celebrated these days and how excited everyone is on their birthdays, the conditions there were really not favourable. But he seemed to have forgotten all about his birthday and still worked with the rest of us. All of us had to make some compromises to adjust to the prevalent circumstances but it was the dedication of each team member that made this project a huge success!

Would like to share similar experiences when you went out of the way to support a colleague?

The mask making machine was an entirely new experience for all of us. It posed before us questions like where to procure the raw material from since the factories were closed and the regular vendors could not provide us with the material. It was quite stressful, and a lot of calls were made, but still, we did not manage to get the raw material. One day I just told Kartik that I would get the raw material in the next five days. I did not know how I was going to do that, but I used all my sources and firmly believed that I could do it. Much to my and everyone’s surprise, I managed to get the raw material within those five days.

Describe your experience of working with Saral Designs in one sentence.

A career with a cause.

Author: Suhani MohanCEO, Saral Designs
Suhani is an Acumen India Fellow, recognized as 2018’s top 25 trailblazing Indian women by Forbes, recipient of India Africa Young Visionary award from Ministry of External Affairs, India, recipient of ‘Top woman entrepreneur’ at Empower, by Department of Science and Technology & Zone Start-ups, and winner of the National Entrepreneurship Award 2016 by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
With 3 years of investment banking experience at Deutsche Bank, Suhani holds a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science with a minor in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay and is a CFA (Level I).
Suhani teaches finance at Startup School of KJ Somaiya and has been a guest lecturer at Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Management Studies And Research. She has also been a speaker at forum’s like UBS Philanthropy Forum at Switzerland, Acumen Plus at San Francisco, Start-up Saturday Mumbai, Jagriti Yatra, Abhyuday IIT Bombay on topics of social entrepreneurship, women in entrepreneurship and social impact.