Contributing Writer – Shtakshi Gupta

Name – Shankar Panwar

Profession – Manager, Project and Plant Engineer at Zim Laboratories

Age – 42

Gender – Male

City – Nagpur

Industry – Manufacturing

Insights

  • For engineering education, government colleges will always take precedence over private ones owing to the quality of education, intellectually- charged atmosphere and the grooming they provide.
  • As a mechanical engineer you have the freedom to work in both core and non-core fields as the skill set one possess can be applied to a wide variety of interdisciplinary industries.
  • Having good communication and social skills is a vital part of the job because a lot of the times the job entails working on large projects with a big team.
  • The nature and duration of the training period seen in this field is more extensive and longer than what is seen in other professions.
  • Although there are a lot of hurdles involved in the short-run, this field does have a lot of scope for lucrative financial and professional growth in the long-run.

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in my native town of Akola, Maharashtra.

What is your family background?

My father used to work for BSNL, he is retired now. My mother is a housewife. I have 2 siblings, a brother and sister both of whom are doctors, one has a private practice and the other one is a medical officer in Akola itself.

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

My friends played a huge role. My family was very keen on me becoming a doctor or a paramedic but my friends advised me that I did not have the requisite personality or inclination to be one and that I would be better off as an engineer, I agreed with them, changed my stream from science to maths in high school and the rest as they say is history.

Please give us a summary of your career, chronologically, including organisation names and your role/designation.

After completing my diploma and degree in Mechanical Engineering from Babasaheb Naik College of Engineering, I started off my career in Nashik, Maharashtra as a machine manufacturer for Adam Fabriwerk Pvt. Ltd; this was a company that dealt with manufacturing pharmaceutical equipments. After leaving this company I moved to Mumbai where I struggled a lot in terms of job search and even my family did not provide me any financial support because they believed I should have been a doctor so that was a challenging time in my life.

Eventually I joined Ajanta Pharma in Mumbai where I handled two major executive projects. After that I joined Shreya Life Sciences in Bangalore, Karnataka, this was also a pharmaceutical company where I handled the service sector for the entire plant as the manager but there were some commercial issues so I left the company and moved to Ahmadabad but I did not stay there long as I didn’t quite take to the culture and instead decided to be closer to my native place which is how I came to work for Zim in Nagpur where I head the maintenance team and oversee the production side of the company.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of this profession?

The very best ones would be the governmental institutes like IIT, Kanpur or other well-known government colleges because if you’re able to crack the JEE examinations and get into these top tier colleges where the culture is very good, they groom you in way that sets you up for success.

The alternative would be private colleges, but they are very few that will provide you the right kind of training and education. The main point of difference between the two is environment and culture, because people who get into the top government colleges get there by working very hard, which means their aim is strong, they have clarity of mind, they’re sure and serious about what they want to do, this is something which is lacking in most private colleges.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?

The cost of education in government colleges will be significantly less than that of private ones. With regards to cost there is a recurring pattern I have come to notice which is, that if the parents are literate and well educated they are aware that government colleges are better both in terms of fee structure and quality of education, but if the parents are not well-educated they often send their kids to private colleges with expensive fees without realizing that the kind of training their kid is receiving might not be commensurate with the amount of money they are willing to pay.

What are the typical entry level jobs in this profession?

After completing your education as fresher’s, you start out as trainees for a period of 1-2 years depending on your level of qualification for example for those with B.E., the training lasts for one year and for Diploma it is two years.

During this period, you do get a stipend and after the training period is complete, you get a job with a proper designation accompanied by a substantial increase in remuneration. In our company there are certain induction processes for beginners, there’s a checklist and they have to visit all departments in order to get to know the key functions and people involved in each one.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

Years of Experience Remuneration (Monthly)
5 45,000-50,000
10 80,000-1,00,000
15 1,50,000-1,80,000
20+ 2,00,000-2,50,000

 

  • A lot of it depends on your specialty, like first preference is given to the design section because these people work with both hardware and software, next comes production and even that has a lot of sub-branches within it.
  • For someone with 20+ years of experience they usually start their own business like opening a consultancy firm.

Describe your work? What do you typically do on a normal work day?

Since it’s a pharmaceutical company, I mainly facilitate the production aspect of the company, I make sure all the equipment like industrial boilers and steam/pressure cookers are in perfect working condition by managing their heat levels, making sure they don’t overload since so many reactions go on inside of them.

I also head the maintenance team which takes care of the utilities the company and plant uses on a day-to day basis ranging from the locomotive organs, lifts, the 450 air-conditioners, which are installed in the building etc. Taking care of all these things constitutes my normal working day.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

The biggest positive of being a mechanical engineer is the versatility that comes with it; you are qualified to work in a plethora of fields such as automobile, pharmaceuticals, construction, IT, petroleum, consulting etc.

Not only that, you can even work in non-core fields such as management, finance or teaching. So, it almost acts like gateway into other varied fields if you let it, and if you do your research and know all your options, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Another one would be that unless you specifically opt for a field job there isn’t a lot of travelling involved, you have a fixed number of hours and an overall stable job.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

For the profession as whole, the biggest one is having effective communication skills, a lot of the candidates that I interview give perfect answers to the technical questions asked in the interview but when asked to interact or sell themselves, they fall short.

As a mechanical engineer you’re not always going to work alone, there a lot of time times when you’re going to be working on a major project with a team, or you must deal with the sales people, it is in these scenarios where having the right kind of social and communication skills can directly affect the quality of your work.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding premium in your job profile?

These days since IT is in high demand a lot of mechanical engineers divert to that sector. After getting their diploma or degree in mechanical engineering they do courses in Python, Java, C++ etc., they struggle for a few more years to get into the IT industry and the fact is for most people this route does pan out.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

In this field you require a lot of patience, especially as a fresh graduate because most companies prefer to hire someone with a little work experience and when you do get hired as trainee there aren’t any guarantees they’ll give you a job, you might have to look elsewhere. Establishing yourself and finding your footing is a process. So, for someone who has a passion for mechanics, loves building innovative products, can be persistent and patient they can be sure that given due time success and happiness will surely come their way.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

Yes, I think I’d like to be a lecturer, teach engineering. Maybe after retirement I can do that, since I’m not a person who likes to be idle and I’ll be able to help guide others through my experience.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

I’d tell them to be mindful of the fact that this field has a lot of struggles involved in the short-term but can be extremely satisfactory in the long-term, so don’t get frustrated in the initial stages, stay true to yourself both professionally and personally and there’s no reason you won’t thrive.