I seized opportunities as they presented themselves to me
Published on : Monday 01-03-2021
Sophie Moochhala, Managing Director, Fluid Controls Private Limited.
An interesting career path beginning with advertising followed by different roles in a global beverages company before joining the family enterprise. Design or destiny?
Definitely destiny! I did not chart out a career plan at an early age and work methodically towards achieving set goals. Instead, I seized opportunities as they presented themselves to me and, with each career move, I looked not at a ‘goal’ but at personal growth and satisfaction. As a result, my career path has definitely been unconventional.
How was the journey from working for a company to managing one of your own?
The transition was very challenging at first and the working environments of each are very different, as are the deliverables. In this transition I was helped by two things. Firstly, the training and grounding given to me during my work experience with a global company where I was exposed to world-class management principles. Secondly, the support and training imparted to me by my father, Dr Moochhala, in the early years of my transition. This enabled me to build a strong foundation for Fluid Controls and put in place systems, processes and strategies to transform Fluid Controls from a small family business to becoming a leading provider of instrumentation solutions for oil/gas, power, nuclear and railways.
Coming from a non-engineering background, how did you make the transition successfully steering a technology company?
‘Success’ is a multi-faceted word! Professionally, for me, success is to build a brand which is trusted by customers and which delights customers. At an organisational level, it is to build a team which is motivated, innovative and performs to high expectations. In this context, my having or not having an engineering background did not really matter as I was robustly supported by a team, which has stellar engineering credentials.
Do women as entrepreneurs have to face different or additional challenges?
Definitely. As a career professional and an entrepreneur, I have experienced some barriers faced by women. I think one of the biggest barriers women do face is that of ‘credibility’, especially if they are in roles that are perceptually seen as ‘non-traditional’. As a woman Sales Manager and General Manager and as a woman leading and an engineering technology company – all non-traditional roles – I had to work hard to establish my credentials.
A woman is also a homemaker. How do you maintain the balance between the two?
It’s a balancing act for sure! I have a family who is supportive of the time I need to devote to running Fluid Controls and that has enabled me to manage the workplace and the home space.
Are workplaces today more sensitive to gender issues than a generation earlier? What is your approach to gender issues in the company?
Yes, workplaces are generally more sensitive to gender issues today than a generation ago, driven in large part by more women beginning to work outside the home and achieving more financial independence. At Fluid Controls, we believe in equal opportunities. Our approach is performance-based, so attributes such as age, gender, background, etc., do not influence any of our employee-related decisions.
How did the Covid pandemic affect your working routine and what are the learnings?
The Covid pandemic had a huge impact on our working routine – as we moved to work from home. Realising that the pandemic may last for a long time, we took a decision to compensate our team as before and, over and above that, equip them to work from home. Once our plant became operational in May 2020, we provided them with a safe working environment. There are many key learnings from the pandemic, too many to enumerate here! One learning was that efficient remote working is very much possible as our team stepped up and delivered even in very challenging circumstances. The second learning was that the business model we follow is inherently flexible when it comes to customer interface. For example, our overseas business has thrived this year despite limited face-to-face contact with customers. Another learning is that investing in technology is essential. Because we have been investing in ERP, software and server technology over the years, the transition to remote working was smoothly accomplished.
What would be your message to those seeking career guidance?
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting, challenging, very fulfilling career choice. To have control of your own destiny and to be able to see the fruits of your labour is incredibly satisfying. Innovation, integrity and reliability are crucial to entrepreneurs starting out on new business ventures. Reliability – and I use the term in a broad sense – is the ability to work hard, stick it out in tough times, be strategic and have a long-term vision for success. Starting a business is not easy and perseverance is very important. Innovation ensures that the foundation of any enterprise is rock-solid and gives it the ability to continuously stay ahead and seek new opportunities and growth. Integrity – to the principles of the organisation, to customers and to the team – ensures that the culture of the organisation is enduring.
It is said if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family, generation (nation). Your views?
The literacy rate for women in India is significantly increasing. According to the 2011 Census of India, the literacy rate for women is 65.46%, which is a significant increase from 54.16% in 2001. Women today work in all fields and lead companies across industries. To answer your question, I believe that women's education is important since, within the context of a family, an educated woman is an empowered woman. And, as women tend to be primary caregivers, they do exert more influence during the formative years of the next generation.
Would you like to share information about your other achievements?
· Graduated Summa Cum Laude as an undergraduate
· First woman General Manager at Coca-Cola India
· Grew Fluid Controls revenue exponentially in the past five years whilst increasing profitability
· Built Fluid Controls as a recognised brand within and outside India through coordinated marketing, branding and customer outreach activities
· CII Industrial Innovation Award for Medium Scale Manufacturing Organisation
· CII recognition as one of the Top 25 Innovative Companies of the Year at the Indian R&D Ecosystem Conclave 2019
· Woman of the Year Award at Rail Analysis Innovation and Excellence Summit 2020
· Woman Achiever Award 2020 by ISA Maharashtra Section at PPA Meet 2020
· India SME Excellence Award for Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 in Manufacturing Sector
· Urban Infra Solutions for Top 10 Corporates of the Year
· Recognition in Excellence in Technical Innovation by ISA Maharashtra Section at PPA Meet 2020
· Rail Business Leader of the Year [Female] Award at Rail Infra & Mobility Business Digital Awards 2020
· Recognised as Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 by Business Connect.
What are the three words that best capture the essential you?
Indomitable. Focused. Result Oriented.