Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day 11: John Crane and Wipro Headquarters

Tuesday, January 9, 2007. 10:45 PM IST (Indian Standard Time).

John Crane Sealing Systems – This was our first and only visit to a manufacturing facility in India. Ashok was the director and general manager for India who took us on a tour and provided an overview on their firm.

It is interesting to hear about the growth in India and as another example of that, the John Crane Sealing Systems business here has gone from 3 to 200 in a brief time period. John Crane is part of the Smiths Group which has four lines of business, including: Aerospace, Medical, Detection, and Specialty Engineering. The John Crane business is part of the Specialty Engineering division and manufactures mechanical seals and related components. The business in India began as a manufacturing site in Chennai opened a second in Banaglore and later added drafting capabilities. With the drawing office, John Crane’s off-shore operations here truly became a knowledge office.

John Crane faces the same retention challenges that the other firms here face; it is interesting to see the unique retention efforts that firms are engineering to improve retention. John Crane focuses on encouraging every employee to offer suggestions for improvements. This is a great way to engage employees and allow them to directly improve operations at a larger scope than they may be accustomed.

Wipro Headquarters and Electronic City Campus Visit – At Wipro, we were able to meet with the Chief Strategy Officer to discuss the vision and strategies of the company. As one of the powerful forces in India, it was great to get insight into what makes a giant such as Wipro operate. After our visit with the executives at Wipro, we made our way to their Electronic City campus to see the strategies and learning in action.

Several parts of the presentation at Wipro were intriguing, especially the discussion on sustainable growth, the significant challenges they anticipate, and how they differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive environment. The growth at Wipro has been outstanding and primarily by finding new business with current clients. Their list of clients was quite impressive and lengthy. While growth numbers have been extremely high at Wipro, they remain aware that the current rates are not sustainable long term. For this reason, they are focusing on ways to find new markets. The challenges they anticipate being significant are: 1) continuing to find ways to innovate, 2) move more into the consulting space, and 3) develop capabilities in supply chain strategies. Becoming an innovative company when you are Wipro’s size is not easy, and as such they are very selective in their hiring process. They receive 120+ applications a day and have an application to offer ratio of less than 1% - selective! Wipro differentiates their work by going Deeper, Farther, Sharper, and Wider into the client’s business.

The discussion was enlightening and afterwards, we boarded the bus again for a tour of their Electronic City campus just south of Bangalore. The campus is absolutely beautiful and has everything employees need to be productive at work. Since employees will work 10-12 hours a day, it is important that they can easily build relationships with their co-workers and also accomplish things like going to the pharmacy, grocery store or working out (all of which are on the campus).

The other piece that is really interesting in the learning and education emphasis at all the companies we’ve visited. Wipro has a rich learning resource center which feels more like a college campus than a business. Not only do they have a strong educational program in house, they have also partnered with several institutions to offer employees access to graduate degrees (e.g., MBA).

Wow – as the days in India focus on company visits, I feel like the content posted here gets drier. We had great discussions at the companies and recapping them in a few paragraphs is getting difficult. I'll leave you with a photo of the traffic we sat in daily - this way you'll believe me when I say two company visits daily is a full day!