Humans are Task Oriented; Customer Interactions Ignite Product Innovations

Padmini Navalgund Bosch 1
Padmini Navalgund Bosch 1

A Gold medalist from KLE Technological University, Padmini Navalgund was introduced to the world of developing software engineering by German multinational Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions. Although her educational degree was in instrumentation technology, her will to learn, dedication and zeal made her a successful software engineer, automating the global automotive industry for more than 21 years now.

The Asia Berlin Summit 2021 is scheduled from 4-10 October. Entrepreneurs and the investor communities from Asia and Berlin will come together to talk about the globalization of startups. Representing India and Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited, Padmini Navalgund will be speaking at the summit. A passionate contributor to the women network at Bosch India, Padmini is vocal about the encouragement she received from the company, colleagues, customers and associates during her inspiring two decades of the career journey.

Talking about the role and challenges of Women in Indian manufacturing, Padmini said that comparing to Digital Transformation for Technology, Cultural Transformation may take time, but she is inspired by the way the industry is progressing towards gender inclusiveness. Padmini proudly shares her incredible journey with Machine Maker.

The right start

Young Padmini

Belonging to the industrial hub, Hubli in Karnataka, Padmini was determined to pursue a career in engineering. She graduated from BVBCET College of Engineering, now KLE Technological University, Hubli, in the year 1999, with a gold medal. She felt fortunate to have known about the opportunity Bosch was offering for fresh engineers.

“What one looks at Bosch is the attitude towards learning, what we believe is skills can always be taught, provided the individual is willing to learn, and I guess I was able to make a difference in my interview while talking about the project that I had implemented and being transparent in what I was looking forward in my career,” reminiscences Padmini proudly.
It is often said that the Will is the only Way! After securing a gold medal in her engineering degree, Padmini joined Bosch in 2000.

Padmini started her career by building software for the Electric Control Units (ECUs) for vehicles for European customers. To her credit, she led project teams in Bosch catering to European customers. 

“I was given the opportunity to lead the project team as its leader, wherein a team size of five onwards is when I started experiencing my managerial skills and from then my journey, apart from the last three years, has been in people management. So, people engagement is my core strength,” she says.
Bosch is a worldwide renowned company catering to developing, designing and executing IoT ecosystem, enabling enterprises to move from traditional to digital in their products and processes.

Product Innovation starts with Customer Feedback

Padmini’s success story probably stems from her ability to find out for herself what the ground situation was. She explains that innovation starts only when a customer starts sharing their feedback about the product developed. “Humans are task-oriented, focus is to finish work as per inputs received on time”, said Padmini. In her initial career, Padmini used to work for European automotive manufacturers. More than a decade later, when she got the opportunity to work with Indian automotive OEMs, she realized how the customers were using the product, which was not thought of by her and the team while developing it. That close interaction with the customer, helped her to innovate and develop great solutions for the industry.

“Through visits to certain OEMs in India, I came to know how they are using our products, but in a very different perspective. Understanding their way of working, feedback furthers helped us in innovating.”  Where the Indian market is concerned, she said, “Catering to the Indian market is something very special because the scenarios are equally demanding, equally innovative and cost-effective solutions have to be given.”

Understanding the shift in the Automotive sector

Over a period of two decades, Padmini has not only catered to both the European and the Indian markets but has also experienced a drastic shift in the automotive sector paving the way to accept new technologies, leaving behind the mechanical ones.

“When I moved to projects taking care of the Indian industry, initially they were using the mechanical systems,” she adds. For more than two decades of her journey with ample experiences that involved steady shifts and drastic changes, she shares her understanding of the Indian market and how it is different from the global or European market.
She says, “Considering the infrastructure of the Indian market, also the cost-effectiveness that has to be executed being a market which is cost-sensitive, we had to innovate in order to ensure that the market needs are met.”

On Women in Manufacturing

Working with a leading global manufacturer, Padmini never felt any kind of gender discrimination in her 21 years at Bosch. “As a software engineer, I never used to work on the shop floor, and the scenario may be completely different to compare. For me, the work environment was never differentiated. It was only based on the perfect performance, be it a male or a female if you are able to perform as per the expectations,” says Padmini.

Padmini recollected that a Bosch plant in Chennai comprised mostly women, “Ninety per cent of the capacity is handled by women in manufacturing, be it shop floor or HR, indicating a paradigm shift towards women handling.” Things were not always so conducive for women. She shares an inexplicable challenge when she was a new mother in 2002. That was a time when work from home was not an option and she had to attend regular office. “It was a challenge to take care of my daughter because I had to be at the office. While there was an open forum where we could discuss this and say that we needed help, the facility within the premises was definitely not available. But there was an option for me to look for any daycare nearby.”

Padmini reflects a progressive mind when she says, “I, as a mother, shoulder this responsibility that I equally balance the opportunity for both my son and my daughter. If my daughter is helping me in the kitchen, so will my son in washing the utensils.”

A campus ambassador with KLE Technology University, Padmini Navalgund concludes on an encouraging note for youngsters coming up in the industry, “Look for your passion. Let the passion drive you. There are avenues to learn, so be open for learning!”


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