Global: Meet a Business Leader at TVS Motors in India
Interviewer: Shaurir Ramanujan; July 25, 2020
Interviewee's name has been removed for privacy.
TVS Motors experienced months of total lockdown before setting up their factories for preventative care (Ultimate Motorcycling).
Could you describe your company and your role within it?
I work for TVS motors, which is the third largest motorcycle manufacturing company India, and among the Top 8 in the world. We make about 4 million motorcycles in a year and sell them in India and in 60 countries across the world. I lead the Human Resources and Information Technology portfolios for the group, which is TVS motors as well as some of the companies that are affiliates. We have about 40,000 employees working with us.
How has COVID-19 impacted company processes, especially in areas of manufacturing?
We had a couple of months of total lockdown; during the month of April and most parts of May, we were not producing. We took this time to set the factories up for preventive care, to make sure the employees in our organization never get affected by COVID-19 when they receive work.
"We took this time to set the factories up for preventive care, to make sure the employees in our organization never get affected by COVID-19 when they receive work."
Alongside that, we did significant work for the community; we delivered close to 2 million food packages for the healthcare workers who are fighting COVID on the ground. We also produced about 1.5 million surgical masks and supplied them to the health workers. So, when the production was off, this is what we did for society. We also worked in about 4,000 villages and ensured that their [living conditions] were sanitized. Thankfully, these 4,170 villages that we worked in don’t have a single case so far. So, that is what we did during the preparatory time. We also set up a protocol for work resumption, we installed thermal cameras and AIML based social distancing software to ensure that there are no violations in terms of meeting the 6 feet (1.5m) distance. Everyone will be wearing masks, and we made sure to detect those who are not wearing masks. We also sanitized working conditions between shifts. We started production on the 14th of May, but we did not go full production because we had shutdowns across the country, so dealers were not open and people were not coming to showrooms to buy motorcycles. We had a good amount of international orders from Africa, Latin America, Bangladesh, Middle Eastern markets. In the month of June, when the lockdown started to ease out, most of the dealers started opening and people started buying motorcycles. So now, we are at about 70% of last year’s production at this time.
How has your role changed throughout this pandemic? What were challenges and are there potential opportunities that have arisen within the company?
We are a people’s first company, so one significant thing we made sure happened was that every employee of the company is safe during this pandemic. We also ensured that there was communication from the HR side to every employee during the lockdown period to make sure that they are safe. So, the communication was more than usual, and the care that went to employees in need, for medicine or to move around - we ensured proper help was rendered. So, I would say the “care” portion of our portfolio went up significantly. On the other side, in IT, we ensured every employee could work from home - so that’s how we went about this.
How have overseas processes and interactions with other countries changed in such a global market?
The world has come together from what it used to be. There is a lot of empathy. When we speak to other international partners and distributors, the first thing we start talking about is how they are, and what they need. Similarly, you get questions from them like how we are and what is going on in our country.
"When we speak to other international partners and distributors, the first thing we start talking about is how they are, and what they need."
It was a great amount of cooperation and collaboration. Likewise, a lot of the work we did in the Indian market we extended into other markets - we did a lot of supplying masks and Personal Protective Equipment in Africa. I would say the collaboration is much better than before due to this pandemic.
Socially, how has personal life in India changed in your city and local state?
We don’t move out often now. We are used to going around, and not spending too much of our time at home. These days, we are stuck at home. Thankfully, online services are there, so we get everything at your doorstep. Most of the people have become more online-savvy, and digital payments are becoming much better than before; i have not touched my wallet in the last 2 months. It’s all about working and being at home.
What lessons can people learn and take from such a world altering event?
First is patience and being grateful for what you have and who you are. I think this pandemic has forced everybody to accept change as it is and look for something positive out of the whole thing. This is a disease that doesn’t discriminate if you are rich or poor, or a factory or municipal worker. It affects anybody and everybody. So the pandemic has helped us explore more about ourselves that otherwise could not have been done in a normal, easy life.