Financial Independence is Critical for Women to take up Leadership Roles: Megha Koduskar

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womanufacturing
Megha Rajesh Koduskar is the Parnter of Sunny Engineering Works

Megha Rajesh Koduskar’s journey from a young student fascinated by electronics to becoming a partner at Sunny Engineering Works reflects her determination, passion for engineering, and the support of her family. From her early days in school, where she chose to delve into the world of electronics, to her decision to pursue a diploma in Industrial Electronics, Megha’s path was driven by an intrinsic interest in how things work. Despite the societal norm of marrying early, her journey didn’t halt; it took a new direction with encouragement from her husband, Rajesh Koduskar, who supported her ambition to further her education in engineering.

Megha Rajesh Koduskar is the partner of Sunny Engineering Works based at MIDC Chinchwad, Pune, and a Pimpri Chinchwad Small Industries Association member. They are into manufacturing industrial jigs, drill jigs, industrial fixtures, industrial bushes, tooling machines and machine devices. Megha’s narrative illustrates a fascinating crossover from electronics to mechanical engineering, with a culture of learning through doing. Originating from a background rich in educational professions, with family members being teachers and her roots in electronics, Megha’s venture into the mechanical aspect of engineering alongside her husband, Rajesh Koduskar, showcases the adaptability and continuous learning ethos that drives their business success.

After completing her diploma, Megha Koduskar gained valuable experience working as a trainee engineer with notable companies like Kinetic, NCIT, and Forbes Marshall. This phase of her career was crucial, laying a solid foundation and giving her a real-world understanding of engineering applications and the manufacturing process. With three years of service, she was ready to embark on a new challenge. As Megha reminisces, “In 8th grade, I discovered my passion for Electronics. My well-educated family supported my ambitions wholeheartedly, encouraging me to explore and learn. My husband was instrumental in guiding me towards pursuing a diploma in Industrial Electronics, subsequently leading me into the corporate world,” Megha shares, reflecting on the role her husband played in her educational and professional development.

Make-in-India

In a family where teaching was the profession of choice, Megha Koduskar’s journey took a distinctive turn towards mechanical engineering alongside her husband in their enterprise, Sunny Engineering Works. “It’s quite a shift, you see. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are teachers, but here we are, dabbling in Mechanicals,” Megha remarks. Sunny Engineering Works, a vision brought to life by Megha and her husband Rajesh Koduskar in 1997, initially thrived on minimal resources. “In the beginning, it was just us and a handful of machines – one milling, one lathe, and one drilling machine. The milling and turning machines became my domain of expertise. It was daunting at first, but I never feared to work on the machines, and my confidence grew by time,” Megha recalls.

Transitioning from an electronics background to mastering mechanical machinery took a lot of work. “Coming from electronics, machines were new to me. But something was thrilling about learning to operate them,” she shares, emphasising her hands-on approach to overcoming initial apprehensions. “We cater to OEMs, making parts for larger machines. Each order is a challenge, requiring precision and a deep understanding of our client’s needs,” she explains. “My husband was my teacher in more ways than one. Not only did he introduce me to the field, but he also stood by me as I navigated my way through the nuances of mechanical engineering,” Megha states, expressing gratitude for the supportive environment that allowed her to explore and excel.

Fearless & Learning from Mistakes

Megha’s journey is punctuated by challenges, risks, and a series of learning experiences derived from making mistakes. “It’s been a journey of reading, learning, losing, and working tirelessly,” Megha shares candidly. The path to establishing a robust production line was fraught with trials, including dealing with material rejections and absorbing losses. “Each mistake, each rejection meant a financial loss for us. But it’s through these losses that I’ve learned the most,” she reflects. The transition from tooling to production introduced a fresh set of challenges, particularly because of the absence of repeat jobs. “Every task was a new adventure, requiring new drawings, new plans. It meant there was a higher chance of mistakes,” says Megha. This constant novelty, while daunting, also paved the way for innovation and growth.

Sunny-Engineering-Works
Megha Rajesh Koduskar is the Parnter of Sunny Engineering Works

Megha’s philosophy is simple yet profound: “If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn.” Her belief in the value of risk-taking as a vehicle for growth has been a driving force in her professional life. “Taking risks is essential for growth. Yes, you might stumble, but it’s all about how you learn from those stumbles and move forward,” she states. Megha’s narrative takes a turn as she recounts the pivotal moments of challenge and change within her manufacturing journey, starting from the year 2001. “The initial years were particularly tough,” Megha recalls, detailing the uphill battles Sunny Engineering Works faced as a small-scale operator. “We were essentially a vendor to the vendors of big companies, often working without timely compensation.” This phase was marked by struggles that tested their resilience and determination.

“In small-scale operations, time is a luxury we often don’t have,” she explains, shedding light on the reliance on external services for processes like hardening, grinding, and blackening. “Not everything is in-house, and depending on others can be risky. They promise delivery in two days but prioritise their direct customers, putting us in a difficult position.” This dependency not only hampers their ability to meet client demands promptly but also places them at a disadvantage with larger corporations that operate with a vendor code, setting strict terms and conditions. “What do small companies like us do?” Megha ponders, highlighting the dilemma of operating as a second or third party and the heightened risk of failure that comes with it. “We invest our time and work hard, but without timely payment, the balance is upset, and we’re left in a financial lurch.”

The story, however, takes a hopeful turn with a partnership venture she and her husband had leading to significant growth and expansion. “We saw our company grow; it was a time of considerable achievements and milestones,” Megha says with a hint of pride in her voice. Unfortunately, this period of prosperity was not without its challenges. Personal differences led to the dissolution of partnerships in the new venture, causing the company to falter and necessitate a restart from scratch. Megha describes this phase as a “big incident,” a time when their perseverance was put to the test. “In the aftermath, there were many who took advantage of our situation, while others chose to stay silent and keep struggling,” she shares. Despite the setbacks and the people who doubted them, Megha and her team found strength in adversity. “By the grace of God, we managed to rise again. Our readiness to get back up, time and again, became our greatest strength.”

Men Support Women in Manufacturing: Megha Koduskar

There’s a notable disparity in gender participation in manufacturing, particularly in mechanical roles. Megha observes, “Women often shy away from manufacturing due to the physical nature of the job. The notion that their hands might turn black, or the environment isn’t as ‘clean’ as IT sectors deters them.” This mindset shows a broader societal expectation of women’s work being neat and not labor-intensive, limiting their involvement in manufacturing fields.

Despite these challenges, Megha’s personal experience tells a story of resilience and mutual support. “In instances where women do step into manufacturing, they are supported by their male counterparts. It’s about teamwork at the end of the day,” she reflects, sharing instances from her visits to various shops where urgent requests are met with cooperation, irrespective of gender. Megha firmly believes in women’s capability to excel in manufacturing, drawing parallels with their roles at home. “If a woman can manage a household, juggling multiple responsibilities, why can’t she handle a shop floor?” she posits, challenging the stereotype that manufacturing is beyond women’s skill set. According to Megha, the crux of the matter is familiarity and adaptation to the manufacturing environment, which, once overcome, opens up a myriad of possibilities.

Financial independence is critical in enabling women to take up manufacturing roles. “With financial stability, women can hire help, making it feasible to balance work on the shop floor with other responsibilities,” she suggests, pointing out that economic empowerment is key to breaking gender norms in the industry. Megha emphasizes the critical role of financial support and comprehensive knowledge for women in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. She highlights the government’s efforts to support women entrepreneurs through tax concessions and loan facilities, stressing the importance of experience and expertise in one’s field. “The government offers a lot of support for women, including tax concessions and different loan facilities in the bank,” Megha notes, encouraging women to leverage these resources to build their businesses.

Pimpri Chinchwad Small Industries Association Enables Community Building & Networking

Reflecting on her own journey, Megha believes owning a business offers more growth potential than traditional employment, albeit with its own set of challenges. “You can’t grow as much in a company as you can in your own business, but you must have thorough knowledge of your business to succeed,” she asserts. She credits her success not to seeking work but to the quality of work they deliver, “We never had to ask for work; people come looking for us because we prioritize quality over quantity.” Megha shares insights from the lockdown, revealing that her workshop remained operational for all but 21 days despite the challenges. This period taught her the importance of adaptability and quality in their work. “Our work during the lockdown was about quality, not quantity. It taught us what kind of work we should do,” she explains.

Megha discusses Sunny Engineering Works’ relationship with the Pimpri Chinchwad Small Industries Association. “We are registered with them and actively participate in their events,” she shares the importance of community and networking for small businesses. However, she notes a challenge: “We don’t receive loans from the Small Industries Association due to our age criteria; you need to be under 45.” This limitation means they’ve had to become more selective in their business dealings. “People have started recognising us; they come to meet us. But we have become a bit picky in our partnerships,” Megha explains, indicating a shift towards more discerning business strategies. Payment terms with larger corporations have improved, benefiting their operations. “Earlier, there was a waiting period of 90-60 days for payments, but now, many companies settle invoices within 30-45 days thanks to everything being online,” she adds, highlighting how digital advancements have positively impacted their cash flow and operational efficiency.

New Generations is Insta!

Reflecting on the generational shift, she observes that today’s youth, including her son who recently completed his engineering, are quick decision-makers and financially better positioned to take risks and grow businesses rapidly. “Now, our children have a setup ready, so they are ready to fly quickly,” Megha notes, acknowledging the advantages the new generation has over the past where growth was a slower process due to financial constraints. Megha’s vision for her company is one of expansion and quality. Despite the ambition to grow big, she insists on maintaining the quality that has defined their work from the beginning. “We want to make it big, but quality is more important than quantity,” she asserts, highlighting that the pursuit of growth will not compromise the standards they’ve set for their products and services.

Furthermore, Megha emphasises the importance of knowledge in business growth, arguing that one cannot rely solely on others to build a successful business. “You should know the A to Z of the product you are doing business with. Only then can you hire people and delegate work,” she advises, stressing the necessity of being intimately familiar with every aspect of one’s business to ensure its success and sustainability. Megha Koduskar’s narrative is a blend of ambition, pragmatism, and wisdom, reflecting a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in running a manufacturing business. Her emphasis on quality, knowledge, and the blend of new generational energy with experienced guidance paints a hopeful picture for the future of Sunny Engineering Works.

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