ASHAY DHOOT, Head of Technology and Innovation, Videocon.
Exhibit: Considering how massive Videocon is, you definitely had big shoes to fill. Tell us about your experience so far. Does it get stressful for you?
AKSHAY: Being a part of the R&D and product development team of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate is definitely exciting and, without doubt, a big responsibility. With excitement and responsibility, stress is bound to come, but it is more than fun to work with an enthusiastic team and a company that promotes an inclusive working environment. I get plenty of support from my colleagues as well as seniors. Moreover, I always wanted to work in product development and R&D. Not many people are fortunate enough to say that they thoroughly enjoy their work. I think I am quite lucky. I welcome the challenges, and they are definitely building me up.
Exhibit: Time and again you have maintained that not only do you wish to Make in India, but also innovate here. Please share your thoughts on this.
AD: Videocon is more than 3 decades old now, and it is well established as a manufacturer in India. Many Indian consumer electronics & appliances companies existed in India before Videocon, and after, most of which shut down when the economy was opened up to international competition. But over so many years, it is Videocon’s manufacturing capabilities and consistent delivery of fantastic customer experience that has made it stand tall over the years. Now we have started innovating here. We launched the World’s first Satellite TV, World’s first Windows Powered TV, World’s first 4K Ultra HD STB, World’s first Satellite Air Conditioner, and other such innovative products, all of which were researched and developed in India. And this is just the beginning.
Exhibit: You have stressed on the importance of R&D and have pledged to dedicate more capital and efforts for the same. Tell us about your thought process behind it.
AD: Videocon endeavors to constantly innovate and this goes far beyond product development. Being in a consumer driven firm, the prime objective is to find immediate and relevant ways to interact with customers and offer them products that exude comfort. Therefore, it is important to bring cutting edge technology at the doorstep of the customers. To fulfill this vision, it is quite imperative to have functional and well-equipped R&D centers. We earmark our capital regularly to invest in this process further, and are proud of our engineers and managers!
Exhibit: Videocon has created a definite mark for itself in the Tech space; however, there is always going to be some competition from other brands. How do you try to tackle it and maintain your position in the market?
AD: At Videocon, we are constantly interacting with our existing and potential consumer base to understand how we can deliver the best experience. What is missing in today’s products? What is everyone expecting from consumer durable manufacturers? All these interactions with consumers keep us on our toes for working on various product designs and concepts.
Exhibit: You have experienced the working across a lot of sectors in your company. Which sector do you find the most appropriate for yourself keeping in mind your skill set and aptitude?
AD: I have been very fortunate to have been able to work in various verticals of the Videocon Group. And I am glad I was able to make the most of the opportunities that were available to me. Although I do enjoy working in R&D, I always make an effort to understand each and every department of the organization – be it marketing, finance, warehousing, logistics or customer care. I would love to join the CEO’s team to get a hang of managing overall operations, while maintaining my closeness to the R&D division.
Exhibit: How would you like to describe your relationship with Technology?
AD: I see technology as the science of developing useful things to solve problems of the consumer. Given the enterprising R&D team at Videocon, I thoroughly enjoy being in a constant relationship with technology. Whenever I see a product, I try to figure out- What problems is it solving? What development can make it more efficient in solving problems? What are the problems that consumers face? How can they be resolved? This way, I am always thinking about what can be done to resolve issues and make life more comfortable.
Exhibit: What are your thoughts on social media and how is it helping you on a professional and personal front?
AD: Social media is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of the common man. Often disgruntled consumers have made powerful creatives / poems against companies whose products or services have caused them agony. And this has led to heavy damage for those companies. It has encouraged others to take the medium and consumer needs more seriously.On a professional front, it is the best way to get insights into consumers’ minds. Just skimming through Facebook posts and tweets tells me what people are thinking, what they want, what problems they are facing, or what designs they like or dislike. This helps in understanding them and planning products accordingly.
Exhibit: Please share your thoughts on the Tech scene in India right now.
AD: The smartphones and the internet are both penetrating India at lightning fast speeds. This is educating consumers about the goods and services that are available in the market, and planting ideas in the minds of many about new products and services. It is also creating a huge market for consumption of services based on mobile applications. Penetration of more smartphones together with the internet is going to enable India to increase its pace of growth, and promote the development of new technologies.
Exhibit: If you ever had the choice to come up with your own gadget, what would it be like and what features would it have?
AD: Penetration of the Air Conditioner in India is only about 5%. The reason for this slow rise in penetration is high cost of electricity. I would love to have a solar powered air conditioner that I would sell at an 80% subsidized rate to the consumer, and earn by taking weekly installments from the consumers for using the product. Customers could choose the weeks on which then don’t want to pay the installment, and I would wirelessly disable their ACs on those weeks.
Exhibit: Describe a quintessential day in the life of Akshay Dhoot.
AD: My day starts with a cup of tea and the newspapers. For a 9am start at the office, I leave at 8am from my residence in New Delhi. The car journey would essentially comprise of checking & responding to emails. Rest of the day would go into reviewing progress on current projects, reviewing sales and marketing operations, planning new projects, and discussing possibilities with new and existing third-party vendors. I head home around 7pm, get home around 8, manage a quick 30 minute workout session, followed by dinner and time with my family. ~15 to 18 days a month are spent in travelling to factories and vendors, including 4 days a month for Executive MBA classes in IIT-Bombay.
Exhibit: Which are your most inspirational books?
AD: “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is not just a great read but also has gems of lessons hidden in its pages; the importance of analysis in various situations is the one that has stuck with me. “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank is my second pick for the way it highlights how most products fail primarily because of poor market research.
Exhibit: How would you like to trace the journey of Videocon for the next 5 years considering the rapid changes and improvements in Technology?
AD: Videocon understands that a consumer should be benefitted the most from any product offering. Keeping this in view, in future we aim to create more products that are practically relevant and technologically advanced. We also plan to add more premium products to Videocon product portfolio. Understanding the market scenario, which is fueled with the internet and smartphone penetration, we envisage capturing the connected consumer devices segment with the launch of smart home appliances.
- A tech gadget you can’t do without that’s not your phone or your laptop: Bluetooth Headphones
- Most unique tech gadget: Replaced my intercom system at home with multi-channel walkie talkies! Fast and convenient!!
- Best piece of advice given to you: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” (Quoted from Michael Jordan)
- Inspiration in life: Mr Rahul Bajaj
- Dream car: Bugatti Chiron
- Watch you’re wearing: Moto 360 2nd Gen
- Apps you rely on to keep you updated and tecked up: in-shorts, Yahoo finance