Interview with Mr. Deepak Parab Managing Director Metrohm India Private Limited
- Post By : Kumar Jeetendra
- Source: Microbioz India
- Date: 11 Sep,2020
I have been involved in every stage of evolution of this organization. Today we have approximately 225 employees and we have been able to increase our sales substantially. In last ten years as CEO and MD, I have mainly focused on couple of thing’s, customer and profitability-Interview with Mr. Deepak Parab Managing Director Metrohm India Private Limited
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am graduate in Chemistry with Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Science. I started my career in 1984 at Department of Chemistry, IIT Bombay under Prof. Anil Lala, working with him on various projects. This is where I was introduced to various Analytical Instruments. Prof. Anil Lala has been my mentor and I owe all my success to him. In 1989, I switched over to Private Sector and have worked with various industries like Public Testing Laboratory, Pharmaceutical and Dyes & Intermediates Industries. My last job in the Laboratory was at Metrochem Industries Limited as R & D Manager. In 1995, I switched over to Sales and Marketing. I joined Metrohm India in 1999 as a Product Manager and have worked my way up. I have held several position at Metrohm India and eventually I was made CEO and Managing Director in Jan. 2010.
I am also a founder Director and member of the Board of Directors of another Metrohm AG subsidiary in India, Ohmic Research India Private Ltd., which is primarily engaged in Design and Development of new analytical instruments. Since 2010, I am also member of the Board of Directors of Metrohm Middle East which is based out of Sharjah, UAE. I was also member of the Board of Directors of Eppendorf India Private Limited from Jan. 2010 – Jan. 2014. I have been appointed as Vice President – Swiss India Chamber of Commerce since Jan. 2018. I have served as Secretary, India Analytical Instrument Association for the years 2015 – 2017.
On the family front my wife is homemaker (she left the pharma job to take care of family) and I have a daughter and son. Daughter is pursuing Chemistry and is in final year of B. Sc. and son is in XII standard. At this moment, we are based out of Chennai but basically I was born and bought up in Mumbai.
What do/did you like most and least about your present/most recent position?
The most striking thing at Metrohm India is, you are working with a team, which has been with you for past two decades. Metrohm India has a very stable team and this is one thing which I like most. I consider myself very lucky to lead this kind of team where we have better understanding about each other and we can discuss everything threadbare.
The present position requires lot of time to be spent in office and that cuts me off from interacting with customers and colleagues from other offices. I was a field person and I am missing interactions with our customers on regular basis.
What have been the main accomplishments of the Metrohm India during the last five years?
In last five years, Metrohm India had several accomplishments. To start with, we have bought all our own offices and have moved from rentals to owning our offices. We have invested substantially in infrastructure building and trainings (both Technical and Soft Skills) so that we can offer better support services to our customers as well as better working conditions to all at Metrohm India. We now also have online support center where we are able to take care of issues which can be handled remotely. We have also opened up several offices so that we are close to our customers. Our idea is, if we have 100 instruments in any city/area, we should have one service engineer in that city/area. This has helped us to serve our customers, build their confidence in after sales support and reduce our response time. Today, we have 12 offices and 14 home offices to cater to pan India requirements. We have been able to introduce new products, garner better market share and increase our business steadily. We take a pride in stating that once a Metrohm customer, always a Metrohm customer. Substantial portion of our business comes in the form of repeat orders or from same customers.
We have also provided our people for Metrohm Global Organisation like Global Support Engineer based at Metrohm Switzerland, Asia Pacific Product Manager for Spectroscopy, and Asia Pacific Product Manager for Electrochemistry. Quite a few of my colleagues are on the Global Teams on Product Development. We are also providing technical services to our parent organization since we have a very strong spectroscopy base. Our Application Chemists have been deputed to Asia Pacific region and to US for Training the local chemists and we will continue to do so in order to transfer our knowledge in the Asia Pacific region.
Metrohm India also started a development center for Metrohm AG in Pune and we have been successful in introducing three products already. These products are for global sales and response has been encouraging till date and we plan to expand our activities in this domain.
We are also collaborating with one of the Laboratories in Chennai for starting a course to impart training to young science graduates in Analytical Chemistry so that they can be absorbed by various industries.
Metrohm is owned by a foundation and part of our profits are used for the benefit of the larger society. Along with IIT Bombay, we have instituted IIT Bombay – Metrohm India YOUNG CHEMIST AWARD for the young scientist with prize money of Rs. 300,000; Rs. 200,000 and Rs. 100,000. In last five years, we have constructed approximately 10 kms of Road in villages, provided Sanitation facilities, constructed classrooms, laboratories, hostel and other infrastructure facilities to various schools. We also take care of 50 school and college students education out of which few of them are children of our soldiers who gave their life for our country.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving company goals?
The biggest challenge I feel today is productivity of people. As compared to any other countries, Indians have very low productivity. We have been trying to raise productivity of our team but it take lot of efforts and also we as a service provider are dependent on our customers support to raise our benchmark. Our productivity also hampers because of the various rules and regulations, many times which don’t warrant but need to follow them. Every customer has different expectations, be it installation of instrument or after sales support. For example worldwide all instrument manufacturers charge for installation, qualification of the instruments etc. In India all these activities are part of the purchase of the instrument and you are not supposed to charge extra. In Government Laboratories warranty means not only taking care of electronic and mechanical failures and free replacements but also free service. We have to do numerous follow-ups from Purchase Order to Payments. Somehow, we don’t value the other person’s time. Other challenges are our purchase systems which relies only on lowest prices, no modernization of analytical testing methods by regulatory agencies like BIS, Indian Pharmacopeia etc., negligible market in school/colleges/universities and lower sales of automation. The interest in Online Instruments is also very low even though this give very good benefits to the manufacturing organization.
How do you build rapport with the management team? What role do others play in actualizing your strategies?
From the beginning, we always had a core team which will discuss and debate on various issues faced by the organization (internal as well as external) and come with final conclusion. Every core member has right to question any decision or strategy. One thing, that has helped is since we have been together for past two decades, it becomes easy to communicate among ourselves and come out with a single viewpoint. Every strategy is discussed threadbare and every one provides their input and finally we cone to a conclusion. It has been very rare that I had to push through any strategy or governance issues using my power as leader of the team.
Sir, what do you consider the most important contribution of your professional experiences have made to Metrohm India? What was your role?
When I joined Metrohm India in Jan. 1999 this company was very small with approximately 40 employees. I was supposed to lead the team for establishing Metrohm Ion Chromatography in the Indian market. We did not had any installation that time and we were going to fight with a pioneer and market leader in this field. In four years’ time, we were able to sell 100 units and we are market leaders in India for more than a decade and a half now. This success rubbed on to the organisation and we started a structured approach for all the products. Today, we are market leaders in majority of the products which we distribute. I was a Metrohm customer when I was working in Laboratories and has first-hand knowledge about customer feelings. When I switched over to Sales and Marketing, the customer experience came handy in formulating the strategies to win over the customers.
From a small organization, where we did not had any systems to a medium scale organsaition with various systems like CRM, ERP, ISO, HRMS etc. I have been involved in every stage of evolution of this organization. Today we have approximately 225 employees and we have been able to increase our sales substantially. In last ten years as CEO and MD, I have mainly focused on couple of thing’s, customer and profitability. We ensured that customer gets quality after sales support including application support so that he is satisfied with our services. To increase the profitability, we decided to cut costs by buying our own offices and opening several home offices in various cities. We also initiated several other projects which will help us to keep our costs low.
Since I came from research background this also helped me in convincing our Swiss Headquarters to start a Development Center in India and also for various support services to Global and Asia Pacific.
Do you pick and choose, or do you take all the ideas and attempt to work with them?
I will accept all the ideas but initially will like to work on these and then pick and choose which will be relevant to us at that moment. We will then discuss on these ideas internally and come with final outcome. Sometimes some ideas are ahead of time and may not be relevant at that time but may be latter on they become relevant for us. For example we were one the few companies which implemented ISO – 9000 or CRM in India. This we did way back in 1999 – 2000. We realized doing customer satisfaction survey internally does not make sense and hired an external agency to perform the same every three years. From the survey results we used to pick up couple of points of improvement and work on the same. On the other hand implementation of HRMS for a small organization did not make sense twenty years back but today I feel it is relevant.
What are your opinion on COVID-19 situation on Laboratory and Analytical Equipment Industry? Does it give opportunity for Bio-Pharmaceutical industry to showcase its importance?
COVID-19 has hit hard every Industry / business and Laboratory and Analytical Equipment industry is not a different story. Between mid of March 2020 till mid of May 2020, we had a zero revenue since entire country was under lockdown. Business has started slowly from June 2020 and has been improving slowly and steadily. Private sector has started the manufacturing activities and also the procurement. Till date, Academic and Research Institutes, Universities, etc. are not yet functioning and procurement of all instruments is also negligible. Government has also recalled / cut / stop funding various research initiatives. The Government and Institute business is sizeable portion of turnover of our industry and we are missing this at this moment. I am sure none of us will be able to achieve our sales target in this year and I will be happy if we can achieve what business we did last year. Overall, at this moment, the picture is Analytical and Laboratory Equipment business will shrink by 10% approximately year on year. We have been lucky in terms of providing after sales support since we had offices at multiple locations. We were able to provide service immediately after lockdown was opened as we were allowed to travel locally. During the lockdown, we had our online support services available to our customers.
Indian Bio-Pharmaceutical and overall Pharmaceutical sector will have a very good opportunity to showcase its importance worldwide.
Already, India has been providing various medicines which were supposed to fight COVID-19 to several countries. Once we develop effective vaccines, India companies will be involved in manufacturing process since substantial manufacturing capacity resides in India and no other country has capacity to make the vaccines for the world. I am sure due to COVID-19 vaccine, India will get its due importance.
Due to COVID-19 the entire world has realized over dependence on China. Every company / country will now look for China plus one strategy. India with good manufacturing base, trained manpower and technology in hand has one more chance to grab the manufacturing activities coming out of China or someone looking for supply chain apart from China.
What are the key objectives that you would like to achieve in the upcoming three years?
In next three years our plan is focus on productivity of our people and increase the same substantially. We will like to grow our online business segment and spectroscopy business. We will also like to further establish our Electrochemistry offerings. We would like to enhance our Training offerings and will like to opens few more offices so that we cater to all our customers locally and not from a centralized offices.