Sameer Gandhi brings with him an experience of over 27 years spanning across multiple disciplines and industries in the manufacturing and automation realms. For a first in IPF – in a semi-formal conversation, the Managing Director of Omron Industrial Automation India, shares his professionally personal experiences with Shashank Chaurey.
What is your perception of taking up challenges?
I love challenges. And look forward to seeking them whether it’s professional or a pursuit to challenge my physical abilities. Recollecting the initial years of my professional journey, very early into handling the sales of a region, I was given the opportunity of taking care of a complete business unit which was facing lot of issues and needed a revival strategy within a major financial constraint and required me to relocate. This elevated mandate was extremely challenging however I decided to take the plunge and took it up. And now when I look back, I feel that was an inflection point in my career and played a major role in shaping my way ahead.
Later also as I moved forward, I never said no to any of the challenges that came my way. There were instances where I had to change my domains in an extremely short span however I did not hesitate or refuse the change. All these challenges have contributed a lot in widening my exposure, my horizons, my viewpoints and my whole persona both as a professional and as an individual.
Could you please elaborate on how and what led you to work in the engineering domain?
My curiosity to fiddle with the things - assemble and disassemble equipment to explore what constituted their cores!
As a child, I was so fascinated with engineering games involving interlocking of metals and plastic building blocks resulting into various models. Besides this, at home, I loved to observe my father who was very proficient in repairing things, himself, including all electrical goods and gadgets. This was the sphere of his penchant that I vividly remember him getting a major overhaul of our Fiat car’s engine at home! That was the first time I saw a car engine inside out and was so intrigued with the whole assembly. By the time I was required to make a career decision, I was pretty sure that I wanted to be an engineer.
With your vast experience spanning over 27 years, could you please explain in brief your work profile?
Heading the organisation in India, I am responsible for expanding its footprints by steering the conceptualisation and execution of all key strategies related to sales and business development across manufacturing sectors such as Automotive, Food n Beverage, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG, Packaging to name just a few. This goes in sync with the vision of establishing Omron as a comprehensive automation partner providing end-to-end solutions for the discrete manufacturing industry.
Which were the toughest profiles you worked on? What were the challenges, and how did you overcome them?
I consider myself lucky to have received enormous exposure to varied fields so far. However, it’s difficult for me to pick one profile. All of them had their own set of challenges. Actually, if you look closely, it’s an individual’s attitude that decides the intensity and variety of challenges in a certain profile. It’s all about how much one wants to make things better, what does one aim for and to what extent one is willing to go to materialise it. If one does not wish to sway the status quo then, obviously, the profile becomes undemanding and boring to a great extent.
What are your tips to have a balanced work and family life?
Every professional or individual having a ‘busy’ life finds his own way of balancing these two important aspects over a period of time. In my case, I try my best to follow the simple mantra of not taking up work when I am with my family and vice versa, though with this ever-dynamic and hyper-connected technology enabled world it is very difficult to create silos. Hence, I try to minimise the intrusion by taking offs and spending quality time with my loved ones as much as feasible.
Whom do you look up to as a role model?
It’s my father. His teachings have helped a lot in shaping the guiding principles of my career. He always used to say that one should never let go of curiosity and one should never hurt anyone; striving to do the right thing without getting consumed by the fear of consequences is the right way. Things will get settled at their places on their own.
One of the major concerns nowadays in a professional working environment is the stress that comes with the profile. Your take on that?
Stress is inevitable. A little amount of positive stress is must as it enthuses the individual to keep going and do better. However to fret over the things one cannot control is completely unproductive and so must be avoided.
I really like this quote of American theologist Reinhold Neibuhr which fits in beautifully here: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
At the end of the day, we all are minute entities doing our bit in the scheme of this enormous universe. And there are things which are beyond our control. Once we get a hang of this thought, we can easily maneuver our ways by doing our best for and leaving the rest to the universe.
It is said that today more than 'hard work' it is 'smart work' that matters. Your take?
I can’t agree more! Smart work is like working with a ‘direction’ with agility, creativity and lots of time and life management skills. Hard work does play a role in setting the stage right however it’s the smart work that adds the value and proves useful in the long run.
What advice would you give to the youth of India - especially the young brigade working in engineering domain?
Never say ‘no’ to challenges! Spending years in a domain does not add to your experience. Attain valuable experience by learning and doing many things. Keep yourself abreast of the latest happenings of your industry. As engineers our responsibility extends beyond just doing what our job entails. It must encompass the benefits and add value to create a better society.