April 1, 2013

Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India

From Nov 2010 I started working at Mercedes-Benz G GmbH (MBG) in Graz as a contract employee. I was employed by RLE International in Germany and was deputed in MBG on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI). My assignment was making 3D models of the wiring harnesses used in the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The initial assignment was only for 6 months which got extended to 1 year and then kept continuing. It was getting very difficult for RLE International to obtain my work authorisation for my extended tenure in Austria but thanks to the human resources at RLE in Sindelfingen and head of RLE India Mr. Pawan Singh the necessary authorisations were obtained periodically. At work I was so fortunate to have colleagues and managers in Graz who were really special with their understanding and encouragement for me. I loved the work I did for the G-Class which is a very special vehicle.

In mid 2012 the head of department of Product Development-Mercedes Benz Cars (PD-MBC) at MBRDI Dr. Ulrich Walther and my reporting manager in MBRDI, Mr. Malathesha Kunchur visited MBG for discussions. During the visit they came to my workplace. Dr. Walther saw me working and asked me "Do you like your work?" to which which I answered in excitement "Yes sir very much". In Jan 2013 I received a call from Mr. Kunchur. He offered me the option of joining Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI) in Bangalore as a direct employee and continue working for the G-Class wiring harness from there. It was a perfect offer as I could continue the work I loved while being based in in my homeland. But I was reluctant to leave RLE whose head in India Mr. Pawan Singh helped me so much. Mr. Kunchur told me that he, Dr. Walther and Mr. Singh had already discussed this matter and agreed for my transfer. I joined MBRDI on 1st April 2013.

Working at MBRDI was really nice but I planned to leave in 2017 to start an astronomy club and design centre for children in Visakhapatnam which was my dream. My manager Mr. Malathesha Kunchur and our Head of the Department Dr. Ulrich Walther were very supportive of my plans. They also knew about my mental health condition of ADHD because of which I did not want to take any team leading roles. For them it was not an issue at all and they valued the work I did for the
G-Class. I asked them if I could operate an astronomy club for children within the residential colony where I was staying in Bangalore. They allowed me as long as I do not sleep in the office :) !!
I was very happy and was really fortunate to have superiors like them.

A few weeks after I joined, Mr. Harald Kroeger, head of Electric and Electronics at Mercedes-Benz in Germany visited MBRDI. Dr. Walther and Mr. Manu Saale, HOD of Electric and Electronics at that time (he later became the MD of MBRDI) wanted Mr. Kroeger to see the work which I had done for G-Class wiring harness 3D models while at Graz and also during my first few weeks in Bangalore. I was the only one doing such work at MBRDI so the stakes were high for me to make a good presentation as Mr. Kroeger, Dr. Walther and Mr. Saale were all listening intently and seeing what I showed them on the CAD monitor at my workplace. At the end of my presentation when Mr. Kroeger began to move to another location, Mr. Saale stayed back for a moment, patted me on my shoulder and said "Well done". It meant a lot to me.

In Jun 2013, Manoj Desai from RLE India joined at MBRDI and together we continued making 3D models of wiring harnesses for the 2014 and 2015 G-Class. It was really wonderful to work with him. Manoj was very meticulous and hard working. I had to travel to Graz once every 3 months and worked at Mercedes-Benz G GmbH for 3 weeks during each visit. In the meantime the wiring harness team in PD-MBC started growing as new colleagues joined for future projects from Mercedes-Benz cars. Mr. Yogesh Dharmadhikari joined as our team leader for the wiring harness team and he reported to Mr. Kunchur. In Aug 2014 the work of making the 3D models for the 2018 G-Class was added to our work scope which was an enormous amount of work. In Nov 2014, Senthikumar Sundararaju joined us and took up the challenge of handling the work of 2018 G-Class wiring harness 3D models using Siemens NX which replaced CATIA V5 as the CAD software to be used at Mercedes-Benz.

In April 2015, Mr. Prasanna Gonuguntla succeeded Dr. Walther as the HOD of Product Development department where I worked. Also Mr. Kunchur was replaced by Mr. Vijaykumar Daddi who reported to Mr. Gonuguntla. Mr. Daddi reported to Mr. Gonuguntla some years back as well, in the Daimler Trucks department at MBRDI. In June 2015 Mr. Gonuguntla visited all teams individually to know about their work. When he visited our wiring harness team, for some reason best known to him, he chose to call the work which I had done for the G-Class wiring harness from 2011 until 2013 while working in Graz as a "Minor work" and the work which I was doing in MBRDI as a "Waste of time". He said it in front of my manager and colleagues. His words were not only demoralising to me but also insulting to the work I did. In the following days I wrote a mail to Mr. Gonuguntla listing some of the comments he made and informing him that I will be taking actions based on them. In his reply he said I was misunderstanding his comments. He did not regret making those comments. Upon reading his mail I felt like quitting MBRDI immediately or to submit a grievance against Mr. Gonuguntla. My manager Mr. Dharmadhikari persuaded me to not to take any of those actions as there was still a lot of work to be done for the G-Class. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Dharmadhikari and followed his advise. In Sept 2016 during my mid year review, Mr. Dharmadhikari gave me the information that his superior Mr. Vijaykumar Daddi wanted me to consider leaving MBRDI in the mid of 2016. His reason was that as I am planning to leave in 2017, an earlier exit by me will enable him to replace me with someone who can take up team leading roles which I was not willing to take. On hearing that I decided to leave MBRDI as soon as possible. After some thought and planning I informed Mr. Dharmadhikari and Mr. Daddi that I will leave MBRDI exactly on 31st Mar 2016 which was 6 months away and was earlier than mid 2016, the time frame by which Mr. Daddi wanted me to leave. After informing them I posted this in my Facebook page -

Soon after making the decision to leave MBRDI, I purchased a permanent license of CATIA V5 from EDS Technologies for my plan to set up a design centre for children in my hometown Visakhapatnam.

In Oct 2015, I traveled to Graz from Bangalore for the 12th and final time and said goodbye to the wonderful colleagues in MBG who helped me so much during the 5 years that I worked with them. All of them gave me their best wishes for my future and are my well wishers for life. I also traveled to Sindelfingen in Germany and met Dr. Walther and Mr. Ralf Gisy who had both returned to Germany after their deputation in MBRDI and MBG respectively. Mr. Gisy was the team leader of the Electric and Electronics team in Mercedes-Benz G GmbH and my manager in Graz until I moved to MBRDI in 2013. I was so moved by them taking time for meeting me and motivated by their best wishes for me.

31st March 2016 was my last day in MBRDI. My colleagues gave me a such a wonderful send off with best wishes cards and so many meaningful gifts including a Fischer AG7 - Astronaut Space Pen with engraving commemorating Apollo 11 Moon landing.

This was our group photo after the send off -

At 4 PM I left the building of MBRDI with the decision to remain a freelancer for as long as I live and follow my dream of setting up Tranquility Base in Visakhapatnam.

No comments:

Post a Comment