INTERVIEW : Milind Padole, CEO and MD of Affordable Robotic &Automation Ltd. (ARAPL), a 100 crore BSE listed company (small exchange)
Tell us something about ARAPL?
We started ARAPL in 2005 as a proprietary concern then formally converted it into Pvt Ltd in 2010. Affordable Robotic & Automation Ltd. ARAPL is leading the automation world for more than a decade serving in Automotive, Non-automotive, General Industries, and also in Government sectors. Our revenues are close to 15 Mn USD. ARAPL has 250+ employees and the average age of employees in our company is 26 years. We are located in PAN India with a manufacturing base at Pune. We also have our channel partner’s offices in Brazil & Shanghai.
Compared to large organizations, SME’s still need to streamline their HR function. So, being an SME, what role does HR play in your organization?
HR plays a key role in developing, reinforcing and changing the culture of an organization. Pay, performance management, training & development, recruitment & onboarding and reinforcing the values of businesses are all essential elements of business culture covered by HR.
As an SME we are still not able to fully focus on this field in our company. Though we have a full-fledged HR department but there are a lot of gaps. In coming years, we are planning to recruit some good passionate & professional people in this department.
The dynamics of HR have changed considerably during the pandemic. This has opened a Pandora of new possibilities and structural reformation in HR is the need of an hour.
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Share few HR strategies you have adopted in your organization?
Innovative HR Practices drive the relationship between strategic flexibility and firm performance.
a) We have started multiple engagement programs which involve the social impact of our employees.
b) Apart from that we are planning to engage with top universities for tie-ups for higher education programmers for our employees
c) The female leadership benefits an organization in implementing strategic flexibility. The demographic of any company controls the future and current overall developmental progress.
What’s your biggest challenge in SME’s when it comes to people management? How do you counter it?
The biggest challenge in SMEs is to attract good talent and retain them. We also face the same problems. To retain our top management, we have recently declared ESOP programmed for the top 10% of employees. This will give our top management a handsome pay package every year which will be equivalent to their salaries if they perform as per their KRAs.
How do you prefer to communicate with your team to assign responsibilities to them?
We have fixed KRA’s for all levels. Their performance is monitored on these KRA’s. I review the progress with all Directors once a week.
What kind of leadership do you follow? What are some of the ways in which you manage your team?
As a team leader, I like to engage with my team and talk about the work we are doing and we have done, and how we can improve ARAPL. I do have created ARAPL but without the team, ARAPL would have not reached here, where it is today. I like to spend my time strategizing future growth and new product designing. As a listed company I like my team to work independently without much of my influence in daily working so that the whole process is transparent and managed by professionals.
Any suggestions for people venturing entrepreneurship?
People should work in similar industry domain before they want to start a venture. There will be a lot of change in the whole ecosystem in the coming decade; one should start venture into these new ecosystem technologies.
ARAPL is the first and only robotic company to be listed in BSE SME. It is a Turnkey Automation Solution provider for automotive industries and parking automation in the realty sector. They serve customers like Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, Magna Auto, and Parinee Group, Acme Group, Lodha Group, and some smart city corporations, etc. It is a Pune-based company established in 2005. ARAPL has been working quietly for the past three years in the vision and conversation of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space.