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Indian steel contractor Ashwani Gupta founder always wanted his children to him in his business. Today, MPIL Steel Structures limited is a steel-manufacturing house for heavy steel infrastructure, producing the large steel sections for airports, power plants, bridges, high ways, high-rise buildings, and industrial factories.
These and other questions Priyanka Gupta sat down with Tharawat magazine to answer. Priyanka Gupta is by all standards a very accomplished young woman. Holding an undergraduate degree international relations and gender studies as well as a Masters degree in international public finance, she found her way home to India from her studies in the United States in I wanted to create. There was no future in manufacturing in the US and it became clear that going back to India Woman bending steel sense. I realised soon enough that a small family business like mine is a great springboard for entrepreneurship.
I could have used the same exact setup to go into any kind of production or business. Instead of starting from scratch and spending five or six years building everything you already have these resources that you can count on. Many of them are intellectual and emotional.
But there is so much to learn from them. Through the Western lens it might look like chaos but you can learn a lot from all the grey areas and the intellectual capital. Priyanka did take advantage of the springboard and sprang higher than even she expected in spite of a rocky start. For the first two years it was an uphill struggle and not exactly fun. My father cut back on expenses but refused to fire anyone.
This attitude was shared by many family businesses in India throughout the crisis and it led to everyone starting to appreciate them more for being frugal and traditional because it paid off in the crisis. Her work centers around real life examples of small sized family businesses and the challenges they face.
The Guptas went from a one-man operation to employing several hundred employees in the span of only a few years. My brother is a human rights lawyer. All three of us have completely complementary skills. We are a great team. Today we have two factories active and one factory in the set up stage. We saw car manufacturing facilities, steel plants and rolling mills. My father has tremendous curiosity for all things new. We respected the way he ran it and built it against all odds. He is so brave to open up to us and let Woman bending steel have full access.
He is not a micro manager. Our relationship is unique. It is so easy to run with his passion. When ideas backfired he takes care of it or he tweaks it. I think a lot of the success of entering the family business depends on how crazy your parents can be! I became aware of every single operation in great detail. My grandfather who produced plastic caps used to say that if you know everything about the billing cycle you will know everything about the business.
The Guptas took small steps towards fulfilling all their goals. Now we have Woman bending steel women per department and it is working really well. It is easier to implement such things in the family business. We had a lot of discussions about how we recruit and retain people.
We did that because there were so many people who had worked with my father for decades and we wanted to make them comfortable and for them not to see my brother and me as a threat. The MPIL family is dependent on the family of the staff. You can do lots of small things that have a great impact immediately. I could chose between raising the funds to buy the software that I wanted or just de a solution myself.
I had to get my team together and I did that by doing everything manually first. Everything was stamped and labeled by hand and so we gradually found out where the information was missing and where the processes failed. We discussed what made sense what we wanted to spend it on. Woman bending steel now we are four people with four different backgrounds four different educations debating this in the family.
We really come up with a solution, which works best. We are used to our devices and computers and use them most days for several hours. However, many of the people working at our plants and our offices do not have this access to technology at home and their only point of reference is the office. So implementing changes in the way the business is operated has to be realistic with respect to the capacity of your people.
It is not good or bad it is just the Woman bending steel. He is a human rights lawyer and cares about different things. It really fit with his personality. Also it was great because he was able to build something of his own and did not have to exactly what I am doing so each one of us got to carve his own space. And so he started the MPIL solar division. A lot of things had to be formulated.
I chose the battles I could win. There is no excuse not to follow your passions. My family is greatly in favour of me pursuing other interests.
I feel as a leader you have an obligation to have a life outside the office. The frustration stems from knowing how fast things could go as opposed to how they are actually going. How can you tweak your vision based on the resources you have?
Are you the kind of person who can do that? It is all about realistically articulating what is the present and what is the vision for the future based on that present. Sometimes the next generation will take the brand into totally different directions. As a Woman bending steel owner you might get kids who want to keep it the way it is but even then they are going to change things. And that is really important. Have you asked them to help you trouble shoot? Tharawat Magazine, Issue 23, Original interview posted on Tharawat Magazine.
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