29 Aug 2016 19:26 IST

Tata Steel: Not reinventing the wheel, but making it work better

Only when you reach the top do you realise how beautiful the view is, says Gaurav

In Jamshedpur (popularly known as the Steel City of India), every landmark built by Jamsetji Tata still stands tall and has a story to tell.

The lush green township developed by Tata Steel for its employees has a stadium, a park, supermarkets and schools. This offers comfort, convenience and a splendid life out of the workplace in a city far away from the hustle-bustle of the metros. And the daily 15-minute walk from the Tata Steel gate to the XLRI hostel on wide pavements planted with rows of shady trees is as rejuvenating as a morning stroll in Jubilee Park.

Snapshot of the project

As part of my summer internship, I got a chance to work in the Strategic Procurement Division of Tata Steel. It comes under the Supply Chain Management vertical. My project was in a relatively newer department. And when compared to its counterparts, where almost all the processes were pre-defined, I got the freedom to build everything from scratch. This led to an enriching learning experience.

This organisation is over 100 years old and has absorbed the industry’s best practices. It has also put in place, and follows, certain core values, HR policies and quality standards that are treated as a benchmark in the industry by companies all over the world.

This — coming up with a new set of process maps — posed a serious challenge for me. The knowledge management vertical was efficient and it was my primary source to access the process literature of the company. My mentor was particular about the deliverables and meeting deadlines. I had to come up with a new system to manage day-to-day activities of the department, which involved managing vendor engagement plans, long-term heavy machinery procurements, negotiations, understanding and reducing life-cycle costs, benchmarking against international counterparts, improving the current Information Management System, identifying KPIs and evaluating them to measure the performance of the department.

I was given a blank slate to draw on and I was both excited and nervous at the task ahead! My guides made it clear that the task was to create process management tools while keeping in mind the existing system. I was asked not to reinvent the wheel but make it more efficient.

Family culture

Tata Steel has a work culture that I have not found anywhere else. Some employees have been associated with the company for so long that this culture of being a family is ingrained in them. And let me tell you, this family parties a lot! I barely remember a weekend without a birthday or festival celebration in the office. Even the annual review meetings at Beldih Club happened to be a luxurious get-together with sumptuous dinners after the methodical presentations were done.


The two months passed very quickly. What I learnt at the internship will always be engraved in my mind as this was the first time in my academic career I took something in operations and strategy. This is what the MBA teaches us — to push boundaries and do something you have never tried. It forces you to climb higher and face your fears because only after you reach the top does the view make you realise that all the slogging was worth it.