Seasoned transporters leave Mahindra Mentor Summit 2 at IIM-A on a positive note.
In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna asked Duryodhan and Arjun to choose between himself (Krishna) and his army for the war. Duryodhan chose Krishna’s army and Arjun was left with Krishna. Duryodhan lost the battle with 11 armies on his side while the Pandavas with seven armies and Krishna on their side, won the battle. Every business organisation at some point in time has to make a choice like this, and more often than not, focus on the army (representing conventional available resources) instead of Krishna (representing their son’s newly-acquired management ways). This is where the Mahindra Mentor Summit 2 stepped in to help experienced fleet owners distinguish between Krishna and his army.
Addressing the second batch of mentors, Nalin Mehta, MD and CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus Division, said, “We believe that overcoming the challenges the transport industry is facing, such as enhanced customer expectations, level of professionalism and imminent consolidation of transportation, will need fresh thinking, that of the younger generation, guided and motivated by the veterans.” The idea of creating such a platform, where veteran transporters visit IIM-Ahmedabad, came up after the highly successful Mahindra MPower Youth Transporter Programme. “Students from previous batches reported a discord in implementing the learnings from MPower in their organisations, as they were frequently challenged by their fathers,” averred Mehta. The two-and-a-half day programme for mentors thus sought to make the sector more organised by involving the industry veterans where they could guide their protégés to eventually take charge.
Debates and discussions
Conducted by the IIM-A faculty and moderated by the Mahindra Truck and Bus Division team, the two-and-a-half day programme led to an exchange of thoughts and notes on topics like challenges in the transport sector, understanding leadership styles, succession planning and delegation, attracting investments, brand management and analysing business data with the transport veterans. Experience sharing sessions conducted by Prof. G Raghuram and Prof. Debjit Roy turned into vehement discussions. An opinion seemed to emerge that over conventional micro-management, delegating responsibilities is the need of the hour. There were occasions when the classroom became a melting pot of expertise and maturity of transporters, and the refined techniques of the faculty. Speaking about the right and left brain, Dr. Mallika Sarabhai stressed upon the need to enhance the right brain functioning. She let transport and creativity amalgamate, allowing participants to leave behind their mundane routine and embrace creativity. The session sought to merge the experience of veterans with the energy of their protégés. A panel discussion accordingly brought fathers and their protégés on the same stage, where a healthy debate captured the imagination of both. The constant flow of ideas was channelled by experienced transporters and steered by moderators.
The fleet management session by Prof. Debjit Roy aimed at optimising one’s fleet in view of fluctuating demand patterns. The classroom of 20 was divided into four teams each representing a transport organisation given a hypothetical number of order for trucks (based on tonnage) for two different customers. When Prof. Roy projected (on screen) a demand from two customers in terms of the required tonnage, over the course of seven days (seven different demands), organisations had to calculate how they would meet the client’s demand for each day, on the basis of their existing fleet strength. For instance if the demand from customer one is 64 tonnes and from customer two is 96 tonnes, how would the organisation deploy their fleet which had five 16 tonne trucks and five 32 tonne trucks. The session tried to analyse the performance trade-off between renting and buying trucks during peak and lean period according to Prof. Roy. At the same time it also looked at the ability to forecast business, and buying or renting trends. During the course of the game, organisations (teams) could either buy or rent trucks and decide on their business strategy while calculating revenues, total holding cost, Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI) of buying a truck, rental fees and total operation cost per day per truck. Team members were having animated discussions even as Prof. Roy kept revising the screen with customer demands that would add to the transporter’s drudgery.
Prof. Sanjeev Tripathi emphasised upon linking mundane transport activity with an identity. “Consumers make purchase decisions based on the recall value of the service and that in-turn will become your identity. So it is important to create an identity which your business wants to communicate effectively,” he stated.
Commenting on the motivation to attend the course, and what they learnt, Sunil Jain of Jain Logistics, averred, “After the MPower Youth programme, my son Prateik revised the driver payment to per trip instead of a monthly salary. We now pay drivers per trip and this has lead to three to four trips per month over the two trips earlier.” “The new process has ensured that the driver reports faster turnaround times. He can earn more by making more trips,” he added. Naveen Gupta, Executive Director, Express Roadways Pvt. Ltd. mentioned that the programme made him realise the need to delegate tasks. “This skill is imperative to successfully increase operations across India and enter untapped markets,” he added. Allowing mentors to get in sync with their son’s or daughter’s way of conducting business, the ambience at IIM-A led to open discussions and debates. “The programme made me think about progress; I am now more receptive to new ideas, and would be able look at, and make sense of my son’s presentation,” quipped Gurpreet Singh Chadha, CEO, Narang Motor Transport Corporation. Expressing that she did not expect the programme to cover so many topics ranging from trucking, finance, technology and data insights, Ramola Sharma of Bulktainer Shipping Ltd., praised Vijay Batra’s guest lecture. “It helped me to understand that a leader should always be motivated,” she exclaimed. She said further that her son, Arjun Sharma, has gained confidence after attending the MPower youth programme.
Byram Dhalla, Director, BD Dhalla Transport Pvt. Ltd., found the sessions of Prof. G Raghuram and Prof. Sobhesh Agarwalla enriching. Prof. G Raghuram spoke of challenges in the sector, and Agarwalla provided an insight into how investment can be attracted by appreciating the net worth of the business. Commented Dhalla that apart from the opportunity to see how other transporters were conducting business he also gained a flash of brilliance from others. He aptly summarised perhaps on how the programme would help him to choose between Krishna and his army.