Right Technology & Bright Leaders: Reforming the Automobile Sector

Right Technology & Bright Leaders: Reforming the Automobile Sector

Vineet Sahni, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Fiem Industries Ltd, 0

Vineet is a veteran and an inspirational business leader in Automotive Industry with over 35 years of varied leadership experience, especially in 4-Wheel Automotive Lighting Industry. He holds a B.E. in Mechanical from Delhi College of Engineering and PG Diploma in Business Management from MSPI-Delhi.

The Indian economy is largely shaped by the automobile sector. It significantly contributes to the country's GDP and job creation, especially in automotive engineering and technological breakthroughs. Moreover, India is now home to one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing vehicle marketplaces due to its expanding population, rising disposable incomes, and growing urbanization. The credit also goes to the advancements of the automotive technology ecosystem, the automotive supply chain segment for finding sustainable transportation methods, and novel automotive marketing paradigms.

With a profound background in the automotive industry, Vineet Sahni, chief executive officer and director of Fiem Industries Ltd, sheds light on how technology combined with effective leadership is revolutionizing the sector. Having worn several hats over 37 years in the automotive sector, he spent 10 years as the Group CEO of Lumax Group, 14 years with Minda Group of Industries, and two years with Xerox. Below are his insights on the new era that technology has brought to the automotive industry.

What are the driving factors catalyzing the growth of the Indian motor automotive industry?
Following the disruption caused by COVID, the automotive industry experienced downturns in the years that followed 2018. Now, after six years, the industry is back to normal. We are poised for better growth in almost all segments, and this is mainly driven by our government's focus on the manufacturing sector. The majority of tier-one suppliers currently meet international quality standards, which is an encouraging sign when it comes to industry expansion. The introduction of chips into the automotive industry is also aiding the growth, not to mention how EVs are penetrating the market. With the road infrastructure getting better, the industry could maintain a steady pace for a decade going forward.

How can effective leadership navigate and drive success in the evolving automotive landscape?
Leadership, in my opinion, absorbs trends, predicts them, and equips organizations to handle them in the future. At the moment, leaders are concentrating on strengthening their respective organization's human capital, supporting customers through emerging technologies, developing customer centricity within the organization, and, in the process, leveraging their efforts to maintain appropriate cost structures. This will undoubtedly be their winning long-term strategy.

What kinds of innovations are embraced by leaders today?
Let's take the example of a car or bike, and we can notice a big difference in technologies used in the vehicle—even in the basic aspects like lighting. The electronics-powered lighting features are widely used in vehicles.
From telematics, cybersecurity to data analysis, cars are getting more computer-like features that look after drivers' safety while providing guidance in driving the car. Ultimately, it is becoming an interactive experience. These are the kinds of innovations embraced by organizations currently and, accordingly, nurturing talent to make those innovations into remarkable achievements.

What has changed in the Indian automotive market today compared to the global market, and how does it impact the overall industry?
Twenty years ago, importing the technology from the US and Europe to India was challenging. Today, the same technology can be brought from Europe, the US, and Japan all at the same time, thanks to the collective efforts of government initiatives and leaders’ knowledge of bringing those technologies to customers. Also, there has been a change in customers' behavior—they are willing to spend money on purchasing these technologies. Now, we can see the same cycle of change happening in the automotive industry.

Indian roads will see new styles of cars with new looks and a different feel in aesthetics, especially from the Indian OEMs, which are very innovative and are bringing new looks to the SUV segment.

Today, exports are growing quickly as the automotive industry has learned to overcome the challenge of supplying quality products to international markets. Although many companies still have quality concerns, aggressive measures are being taken to ensure that they can deliver global quality in the market.

What are the best practices for nurturing young talent and fostering commitment in the team?
Organizations must nurture the best talent. At the same time, these young talents must develop patience to implement what they have learned in their organization. Resources are abundant, but organizations must invest time and effort in cultivating these talents to stay stable in the growing market. As I mentioned before, young talents are hesitant to seek career opportunities in the manufacturing industry, which is considered to be a harder field than the software industry. I would say that only people who are actually interested can build a successful career in the manufacturing industry. People pursuing careers in the industry without sheer passion and inclination may lead to increasing attrition rates. As a result, the company's resources also get wasted. Hence, I suggest companies use psychometric tests or deeper analysis to filter the right talent and train them to better contribute to the organization.

What key trends do you foresee in the Indian automotive industry in the next three to five years?
EV penetration will continue, putting many manufacturers back into the drawing board. Indian roads will see new styles of cars with new looks and a different feel in aesthetics, especially from the Indian OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), which are very innovative and are bringing new looks to the SUV segment. Although the penetration of the SUV segment may remain a bit stagnant in rural areas, it will continue to grow in urban areas. Thanks to EV penetration, there will also be daily commuting and last-mile connectivity through the commercial vehicle segment. This could lead to a reduction in the logistics cost, as there are many new players, both big and small, coming into the industry.