Dr. Pawan Agrawal graced the premises of AIM; students found him way too inspiring
Applauds from all corners of the auditorium and a standing honour for Dr. Pawan Agrawal (Mumbai Dabbawala fame) is how it all started. The Friday morning couldn’t get better for the audience who were eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of the juggernaut. What a terrific start! To add to the excitement, there were media houses constantly running up to capture the moments. Going into details, the eminent speaker Dr. Agrawal lighted the lamp and gave a nod to start the session. A foreword by Dr. S.P.Chauhan, Director, Asia Pacific Institute of Management, filled the room with curiosity followed by a floral welcome by Dr. Surabhi Goyal along with the Director, extending a warm welcome to Dr. Agrawal which successfully set the mood for the event.
Now it was time for Dr. Agrawal to address the management graduates and he started off perfectly with the words of wisdom on knowledge sharing with others. ‘Everybody has knowledge but listening and concentrating is a must along with knowledge’ were the first few words that the eminent speaker used to address the audience. Everybody does business but how they deliver is what makes all the difference, opines Dr. Agrawal. Sharing his thoughts and past real experiences from his journey, he made sure the audience gets stuck to their seats as what was about to come was really interesting. Dr. Agrawal, known for his humor added ‘ Jo Biwi se Karey Pyaar, Vo Dabbawala ko Kaise Karey Inkaar’. Needless to say, a big round of applause is what he indeed got for these lines. Talking about the essence of delivery and supply chain management, the speaker shared how 5000 Dabbawalas never fail to deliver the lunch boxes to their customers without any error. Focus is the key to achieve success in life and work. Dr. Agrawal addresses his team as the ‘Masters of Logistics and Supply Chain’. Adding more to that, he said, one should master the art of work that one takes upon himself.
History of Dabbawalas
Mumbai Dabbawala started their operations in 1890 with a small team. The company got registered in 1956. Today the employee strength of Mumbai Dabbawalas is 5000 delivering 2,00,000 tiffins every day. For the last 127 years, they have been delivering Dabbas with only 1 error so far. Dr. Agrawal is born to a farmer father and came to Mumbai in 1979. He completed his PhD. After long 9 years of studying the essence of Dabbawala. According to Forbes, as said by Dr. Agrawal, the error ratio is 1 out of 16 million so far. He further adds, ‘Mistakes are not be made in the process as customer retention and satisfaction is vital to his organization’. He then focused on the word ‘Punctuality’ and addresses the students giving examples of how punctuality is connected to customer satisfaction.
Main Principles on which Dabbawalas works
Mumbai Dabbawalas believe in main four principles i.e. ‘Work is Worship’, ‘Customer is God’, ‘No alternate to Hard Work’ and ‘Importance of Human Values’. He adds, there is no substitute for hard work and if you want to achieve success, it is the core key. He was time and again laying emphasis on how customer centric approach towards business can make it grow as the customer is the vital point to be cared for. Hardships and daily struggles may come but there has to be a system to tackle all of that, opines Dr. Agrawal. In their business hierarchy, there are Mukadams, group leaders, who are divided according to the area where the tiffins are to be delivered. Whenever there is a conflict among the Dabbawalas, it is the Mukadam who ensures the problem is solved and there is no effect on delivery cycle.
Dr. Agrawal laid emphasis on one major point i.e. the will power to do the work. He adds, ‘ Karna Hai to Karna Hai’. He recalled an event where Prince Charles was to meet the Dabbawalas. They gave a warm welcome to Prince Charles and later on got invited to his wedding to Queen Camillia Parker. Going on with the Indian tradition of sending a gift, Mumbai Dabbawalas gifted Puneri Petha, Saree, Kolhapuri Chappal in the wedding. Gladly, he recalled this event and told how customer centric approach and business relations are important. He then recalled another incident where he was glad to meet Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airlines. He adds, it is your work that can take you to places in life, so staying focus is important. He recalled another interesting incident where he came up with a tagline ‘Share My Food’. If any customer is unable to eat the food on any particular day, the Dabbawalas made sure the food goes right to the street children. Dr. Agrawal praised the institute for being consistent in delivering quality education to the management graduates and did not divert from its path by only offering post graduation program for the last 21 years.
The event was a sure shot success and came to an end only after the interesting QnA round where students asked some thoughtful questions to the speaker. Dr. Agrawal enthusiastically answered all the questions and thanked all the students and dignitaries for such a wonderful event. He distributed Dabbawala caps and miniature tiffins to the faculty and students and honoured the AIM’s photographer Preetam Sarkar with a book. With this, the event came to an end. The students at AIM were rejoiced by his gracious presence and also shared how these events help them understand the market scenario better. They also requested the team to organize such event more frequently so that they get the latest insights into business management from the future perspective.