30 Aug 2016 19:44 IST

The dynamics and discipline of running a company

EPGP students at Pyeongtaek SsangYong Plant

A day-long exposure to Mahindra & Mahindra’s commitment to excellence

Day 5 began with a session by an outstanding speaker, Dilip Sundaram, President of Mahindra & Mahindra Korea and SsangYong Korea. He is also President of Indian Chamber of Commerce, Korea.

Sundaram focussed on the dynamics involved in the acquisition of SsangYong Motor Company by Mahindra & Mahindra in 2010 — a first where an auto giant from India took over a Korean auto firm. Rather than focus on the acquisition’s face value, the leader dealt with underlying management subtleties that were at play.

He said the takeover was in alignment with the auto giant’s strategy of becoming one of the top ten automobile companies of the word. The historic M&A (mergers and acquisitions) event served as a key learning point for the Indian business environment. But Sundaram’s session was not just one sided — it also had an innovative interactive session.

He divided the class into Board of Directors and Senior Management, while he acted as the CEO advocating the Ssangyong takeover. The class asked and answered questions and was enthusiastically involved in the role-play, learning all about M&As from a practical perspective.

The framework proposed by Sundaram included three broad aspects — strategic, organisational and functional — which aimed to explain the transformation that an organisation undergoes after an acquisition. He also spoke about the surprises that one might face during an acquisition.

Similar differences

Speaking about the similarities and differences between Korean and Indian work cultures, Sundaram highlighted the close relationship the countries share. Both are family oriented and have a zeal for education. The one area they do differ in is the sense of urgency Koreans have in their work — they are highly committed to achieving excellence in execution.

The corporate leader concluded the session by elaborating on the need to incorporate various facets of leadership such as values, vision, empowerment, execution and celebration, in one’s work to achieve sustainable success.

SsangYong production facility

 

After having a Korean sushi-like dish, Kimbap, for lunch, we took a two-hour bus ride to the SsangYong Motor Company’s manufacturing facility at Pyeongtaek. The utterly satisfying lunch combined with the bus ride through the beautiful suburban Seoul made the experience surreal.

The highly automated plant stands testimony to Mahindra & Mahindra’s commitment to excellence. The dedicated workers and their engineers who guided us through the plant proved yet again that discipline is a way of life in South Korea.

Spread out across 13,223 square metres and equipped with 150 robots, the body shop of the plant is equipped to produce Korando-C and Tivoli car bodies. The assembly shop, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, produces a car roughly every three minutes.

 

Witnessing the live manufacturing of cars was a great experience for many of us. Those of us who had previously served in automotive companies helped us understand the process better, thereby facilitating peer learning.

The visit was followed by a lecture by Sundarrajan Rangarajan, Assistant MD of Ssangyong Motor Company. He elaborated on Korea’s history, the concept of Chaebols or conglomerates — such as Hyundai and Samsung — that operate in the country. He also outlined the various challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for India-Korea partnerships in the auto-industry.

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