Entrepreneurship or employment: how does a B.E. printing choose?

The printing engineering colleges in our country have been churning out students for close to three decades. It is interesting to find out what those graduates in print engineering contribute/tribute to the growth of a company/establishment specifically; and relatively to the printing industry. We have been carrying a series on this. Recently, D Ramalingam from P&P interacted with few of them and found something interesting on ‘what are the reasons for their choice’ for which one remains a long standing employee in an establishment and another turned to entrepreneurship. Excerpts.

KBS Shanmuga SundaramKBS Shanmuga Sundaram, senior associate director at SPS (Scientific Publishing Services Ltd), Chennai was quite positive about his choice to be in service. After obtaining B.E. Printing from Pune, he was with Tata Press for about 18 months cutting his teeth in typesetting and prepress, he moved to Chennai to work with Macmillan Publishing Services. He was quite taken in by the ideas of Sharad Wasani, erstwhile vice chairman and managing director of the company. Sharad founded the Scientific Publishing Services as a joint venture company in 1995 between him and Science + Business Media (an arm of Springer Verlag GmbH, Germany).

Joining SPS in 1999, KBS had the opportunity to contribute to the growth of the company and grow himself. “SPS started with one office and 54 employees in 1995, grew to three locations with 1,250 employees in 2006 producing 1.2 million pages in a month, making a turnover of Rs 90 crore. “In 2012 we had 3,100 employees operating from six locations (all in Chennai) produced 2.2 million pages in a month, making it a Rs 150 crore company. Out of the six locations, four are technical units,” revealed KBS.

SPS is run by a board of directors consisting of Sharad Wasani as managing director and founder, holding 10 percent shares operating from Bangalore; R Balasubramanian, full time director (technical), an engineering graduate & MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad; and Biren Wasani, full time director (commercial), chartered accountant from UK. Leadership team consists of S Dayalu, finance director, Springer India entities, CEO, company secretary; Dominic Prakash, CTO, electronics engineering graduate; KBS Shanmuga Sundaram, senior associate director, B.E. Printing; M Venkatesan, associate director, B.E. Printing; V Vivek, senior general manager (operation), B.E. Printing; P Venkateswara Rao, senior general manager (operation), B.E. Printing and N Gokula Prasad, DG.

KBS continues, “As you can see four of them are B.E. Printing, and each of them holds distinct responsibilities. Vivek takes care of entire customer operations for a customer account, Rao takes care of entire journals and project management, Venkatesan takes care of developing new customers and taking care of them. Our major customers are Springer Science + Business Media, Elsevier Health Sciences, Wiley India Pvt Ltd, Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt Ltd and IMF. Each technical head is completely responsible for the customer being catered by him for the quality, performance, customer satisfaction and profitability.”

KBS takes direct control of two of the major accounts Taylor & Francis Books and Reed Elsevier India. In his unit, a group of over 990 employees are working in three-shifts. Asked about recruitment and retaining of employees, he replied, “We take diploma holders, printing engineering graduates, diploma holders in graphic designing and train them. I am responsible for administration, training and designing of jobs. As for retaining them, the operators can become team leaders for 20-30 team members in two/three years of time. We give various incentives including loyalty incentive. We are a growth oriented company and our founder is a visionary.” Sharad Wasani was conferred with a lifetime achievement award by the International Association of STM Publishing recently. CAPEXIL’s Export Promotion Product Specific EOU Award for 2009-10 also conferred to SPS. They also got an award for most consistent service provider.

While V Vaidyalingam, B.E. Printing, Anna University gave an insight into his entrepreneurship. After his graduation, he worked with Proteck Circuits & Systems Pvt Ltd, Chennai as a marketing manager. Gaining popularity, the urge in him to be an entrepreneur made him to start Suba Solutions in 2003 along with his another colleague G Balaji who takes care of technical matters in Suba. Vaithi takes care of marketing. Started with dealing in Chinese printing products, they slowly expanded their dealership for Shanghai Eternal Machinery, Champion Machinery Co, Shanghai People Magna, Shanghai Shen Wei Da, Leung Chong Kee, Wenzhow Shengrun Machinery Co, JMD Machinery Co, Fohart EU s.p.o, etc. Settling down in Vandalur, Chennai suburb, with their office and showroom, they now have a concept of a ‘training centre’ for their users. For sustainability, they undertake jobs for die cutting and finishing like lamination.

What ultimately stands up is innovation combined with customer satisfaction. What good a service provider you can be depends on your performance and growth orientation as these printing engineering graduates have shown.

Group Publications