SOPHIE MOOCHHALA: REVOLUTIONIZING THE MANUFACTURING SPACE WITH EXEMPLARY EFFORTS
“Follow your passion — and if you don’t know what it is, realize that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it.”
As Oprah Winfrey states it, passion is one of the driving forces that showers light on the aspiration of an entrepreneur. But when it comes to women entrepreneurship, several other factors come into play. The life of a woman entrepreneur is faced with challenges and uncertainties – both in the corporate world and personal life as well. Women very often have to manage both a home and work environment, and support for women entrepreneurs should begin from family. With time, society has emerged from orthodox norms, and support for women empowerment has increased. Over the years, our country has seen a significant number of women leaders, whose efforts have been instrumental in inspiring women to join the business fraternity.
But there are challenges that aspiring minds still face. The current ‘subsidies’ that exist for businesses run, by women entrepreneurs are hard to access and don’t really achieve their purpose. Ms. Sophie Moochhala, a business leader in the engineering manufacturing space believes instead of broad schemes, access to funding and prioritization for licenses and approvals should be offered to women entrepreneurs as it would go a long way in encouraging women to set up businesses.
AN INDOMITABLE LEADER
Sophie Moochhala completed her schooling and college education in the USA and has an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Mumbai. She has over 25 years of rich experience in managing corporate and entrepreneurial businesses, including strategic planning, operational finance, new project management, team management and integrated marketing activities. Sophie started her career at McCann-Erickson in advertising and joined Coca-Cola India in 1995.
During her tenure at Coca-Cola India, she worked in Brand Management and then moved into operations, where she was the General Sales Manager for Gujarat. In 2001, she was appointed as General Manager for the Company bottling operations in Goa where she managed a profit centre operation and manufacturing plant. During her experience in Coca-Cola, she breached many barriers as she was the first woman field sales manager and the first woman General Manager in India. In these roles, Sophie managed large operations and sales teams, successfully driving revenue growth for the Company.
In 2003, Sophie joined Fluid Controls Private Limited, a small family business established by her father. During her tenure with Fluid Controls®, Sophie has built on the foundations established by her father and, today, Fluid Controls® is a leading provider of instrumentation solutions for oil/gas, power, nuclear and railways. Working in an industry where women leaders are few, her vision has built Fluid Controls® from a small, family-run SSE to a medium-scale Company with a clear focus on the “Make in India” theme, revenue growth, profitability, sector focus and research & development.
Under her leadership, Fluid Controls® has been certified as an “In-House R&D Centre” by Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India, has filed its first Global Patent and has received the CII Industrial Innovation Award for Medium Scale Manufacturing Organization and CII recognition as one of the Top 25 Innovative Companies of the Year at the Indian R&D Ecosystem Conclave 2019.
Fluid Controls® was founded by Dr. Y.E. Moochhala, in the economic capital of India, Mumbai. Dr. Moochhala was a strong believer in a self-reliant India. Leaving behind a career in the USA, he started Fluid Controls Private Limited in 1974 to develop high-performance, original design, “Make in India” products which would suit local climatic and performance expectations.
Since its inception, Fluid Controls® has focused on end-to-end solutions – from design & engineering services to supply of high-performance products and installation services, across industries. Dr. Moochhala’s legacy is carried forward today by his daughter Ms. Sophie Moochhala [Managing Director] and Dr. Tansen Chaudhari [Chief Operating Officer].
A PREMIER SUPPLIER OF ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS
Fluid Controls® offers clients a complete range of instrumentation products – connectors and adaptors for tubes and hose, valves, manifolds, DIN pipe clamps and SAE flanges. The company also offers close coupled /prefabricated instrument hook-ups, high pressure needle valves, gas valves for turbine applications, block and bleed valves and O2 clean fittings for pharma and bio-tech applications. Their products ensure precision connections that are designed based on specific application requirements and perform to international standards. Fluid Controls® has recently introduced a range of services – including design & engineering services, testing services, on-site installation services and pre-fabricated assemblies.
Fluid Controls® is a premier supplier to onshore and off-shore oil & gas installations, process and power plants, the defence industry, critical applications for nuclear plants, and brake piping applications for rail and metro. The company is approved by all major Indian OEM’s such as ONGC, IOCL, BPCL, HPCL, NTPC, BHEL, NPCIL and railway OEM’s and their international customers are located in North America, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia.
Fluid Controls® offers design services and conversion engineering, including 3D modelling, FEA and prototyping via ANSYS and Solid Works. Their engineers work closely with customers to understand their requirements and develop effective solutions for them.
The achievements of Fluid Controls® have enabled the company to build its core vision i.e. to be a global leader in the field of pneumatic and hydraulic fittings, valves and allied application solutions. With its mission to exceed customer expectations, the Company constantly works to bring innovation in its products and services. “The foundation for our Vision and Mission rests on our core values of Integrity, Reliability and Innovation” and these values are instilled in our people, and hence our products, adds Sophie.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT– THE CENTRE OF INNOVATION
Since inception, R&D has been at the heart of Fluid Controls® and the company has an ethos of developing products which are indigenous replacements of imported products. The Fluid Controls® state-of-the-art DSIR approved R&D Centre is well-equipped to conduct pressure, vibration and reliability tests as well as in-house Spectro, PMI and UT testing. Fluid Controls® offers design and engineering services to customers.
Based on their particular performance needs and the application area, our engineers work closely with customers to develop effective solutions for them. All customizations are design validated, prototype tested at their in-house laboratory and then field tested for performance and reliability. Since 2011, Fluid Controls® has developed more than 25 new products, which is very much in line with the Fluid Controls® vision statement.
Fluid Controls® products and services are equated with high performance and a very high standard of service. Fluid Controls® is also known for its transparency in all processes. Their core values are Integrity, Innovation and Reliability (I2R), Customers want demonstrated performance, which is the basis on which they start to trust a company. Because integrity is a key value for the company, customers do trust the company — but building trust is a process and Fluid Controls® works with customers to demonstrate capabilities. “I think that our transparency with employees and with customers has helped make Fluid Controls® a Brand trusted by all” says Sophie. She further adds, ‘‘With digitization, any customer can monitor and see in-situ conditions. Building a Brand is a two-way process – and Fluid Controls® has definitely walked-the-talk!”
Attention to constant developments and market research also helps Fluid Controls® to develop cutting-edge innovations and solutions. The company is system certified for ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 & ISO 45001:2018 and PED, all of which ensure best manufacturing practices. The Fluid Controls® state-of-the-art manufacturing facility ensures that material flow and manufacturing processes are lean and efficient.
And investment in ERP systems and a high-powered supply chain team to enable them to procure high quality input material at the best possible prices. The company also has an organizational policy of ensuring employees attend seminars and events so they can learn about new developments taking place and the opportunities available.“Customer delight is our lodestone – and we endeavour in every aspect to provide high-performance solutions at acceptable prices”, acknowledges Sophie.
RISING TO THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE
While many manufacturing units (especially SMEs & MSMEs) have ceased operations due to the pandemic, Fluid Controls® has taken on the challenge and forged ahead, with a commitment to “Staying Safe Everyday”. This approach not only ensured business continuity but also safeguarded their stakeholders (employees & their families, customers, and business partners). Since May’20, the Company resumed its operations, with a focus on operational safety.
Measures taken to assure safe and efficient operations:
- Detailed safety guidelines, for operations and training employees on the same. Their EPRP protocol “Fluid Controls® Focus Five” is created to ensure safety at home and work
- Wide dissemination of the COVID protocols amongst the team through multimedia presentations and a short film
- Re-structuring of all facilities and offices to ensure compliance with government guidelines. The facilities have thermal checks, oximeter checks, safe seating, area marking, foot-operated sanitizer dispensers and water dispensers, clear guidelines for behaviour and continuous disinfection and deep cleaning of all premises
- Re-structuring of manufacturing processes to ensure safe material processing and safe inward and outward material handling
- Individual PPE kits to every employee which are tailor made for their area of operation and each team member has been provided with adequate insurance cover
This dynamic thinking and the active measures ensured streamlined operations. The pandemic isn’t a permanent crisis – and with an eye to the future, the Company focused on sustaining their team with stability and security.
AN ENTRPRENEURIAL WORK CULTURE
To build a successful organization, a committed team is essential, as is a team who believes in the core values of Integrity, Reliability and Innovation. Fluid Controls® maintains a culture of entrepreneurship where each member of the team functions relatively independently within broad parameters of expectations. The leadership team clearly establishes expectations and deliverables from each member and reviews individual performance yearly. Delegation of responsibility and an innovative approach to problems and opportunities are encouraged.
Sophie’s leadership is focused on upholding the Fluid Controls® work culture. She believes in ‘Leading by example’ as it helps in battling challenges and builds confidence among everyone. She also believes that every business has cycles – and hard times are never forever! Instead of spontaneous reactions to unprecedented challenges, she strategically evaluates the needs required to address them. This approach has helped the company stand-up to uncertainties. During the pandemic, she and the leadership team took a decision to compensate the team as before, to equip them with proper infrastructure to work from home as required and to provide a safe environment to the team working in the manufacturing facility.
ENGAGEMENT WITH SOCIETY
As part of a wider societal community, Fluid Controls® extensively supports education initiatives. The company offers multi-year support to three NGOs – Snehwan, Universe Simplified and UGAM, all of which work towards child welfare and education. Adding to this, the Company extends its support to local educational institutes as well. During the pandemic, Fluid Controls® supported various NGOs like UnLtd India, OSCAR Foundation, Masoom and Goonj, who are affiliated with COVID relief activities.
HONOURED WITH ACCOLADES
With close to two decades of experience managing Fluid Controls®, Sophie is a well-established leader in the manufacturing space. Her efforts have been recognized and she has been awarded with the “Rail Business Leader of the Year [Female] Award” at Rail Infra & Mobility Business Digital Awards 2020, “Woman of the Year Award” at Rail Analysis Innovation and Excellence Summit 2020, “Woman Achiever Award 2020” by ISA Maharashtra Section, and the India SME Excellence Award for “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2020’’ in Manufacturing Sector”.
Under her leadership, Fluid Controls® has been awarded the “CII Industrial Innovation Award” for Medium Scale Manufacturing Organization and CII recognition as one of the “Top 25 Innovative Companies of the Year” at the Indian R&D Ecosystem Conclave 2019. In addition, Fluid Controls® has been recognised as “Top 10 Urban Infra Solution Provider of Year” by Urban Transport News and has also been awarded for “Excellence in Technical Innovation” by ISA Maharashtra Section at PPA Meet 2020.
“Success is a multi-faceted word! Professionally, for me, success is to build a brand which is trusted by customers and which delights customers”, says Sophie. Over time, Fluid Controls® has created niche expertise in the manufacturing industry by introducing appropriate cost-effective products and solutions and ensuring ”fit and forget” assemblies.
However, times are changing, and to stay ahead a Company needs to be ambitious. Fluid Controls® future plans rest on three pillars. First, they aim to continue to develop and introduce new products and services. Second, they plan to build on their strength in the rail and metro business and tap into the brake piping business for the emerging high-speed train operations and global supplies to Europe, North America and SE Asia. Third, they are aiming to grow global business, especially in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
A FEW WORDS FOR ASPIRERS
“Entrepreneurship is an exciting, challenging and fulfilling career choice. It gives you control of your destiny and to be able to see the fruits of your work is immeasurably satisfying”-Sophie Moochhala