Mr. M.K. Tara the person who travelled on different roads has changed every stone into a milestone with his every step. The man with the habit to stand against all the odds and comes out winning. He works with the team, in the team and for the team. He doesn’t want to become popular but only wants to deliver because “PAPER IS HIS RELIGION”.
He has earned his chops as a turnaround and commissioning expert. In his 4 decades of service to Paper Industry, he has developed the knack of successfully commissioning & turning around many companies with his eye for detail and focusing on finding the cause of problems rather than treating and minimizing the effects.
Mr. Tara told us about his success & satisfying journey from a trainee toMDand briefed us about some of his turnarounds and his mantras.
• To be successful, you should enjoy your job.
• Set targets and aim higher (his definition of target is what you initially think; you cannot achieve & then find ways to achieve it.)
• You should deliver continuously and then you can survive at any place.
• Motivate & empower the people to take independent decisions. Wherever required, guide them to get best results.
• Freedom for R&Dand experimentation.
He has inculcated the culture of empowering people at all the levels in order to provide them the freedom of action along with learning’s. His priority towards environment and safety is first on his list. He pointed out that his professional life has been like a nomad’s life as he doesn’t stay for more than 4-5 years in the same company as the job gets monotonous. He is in continuous search of challenges and adventures in the job to get satisfaction and happiness. He counts everyday of his life and makes it worth. Language, religion or place is not a challenge for him. He worked at 9 different places where the language was a hindrance but he has been successfully able to communicate with his strategies and actions.
His Major Turnarounds
His major turnaround started from his first job. He understood that to earn respect and control, one should know the job, try and understand the problem of colleagues and help them to solve the same. Working as a team member, the results achieved were great and beyond the expectation of the management.
His innovative ideas were ably awarded by HPC. He was the first recipient of an award for trouble shooting, streamlining functions, reducing breakdowns, during commissioning of Pulp Mill.
He was involved with the commissioning of Sabah Forest Industries (Malaysia) and Phoenix Pulp & Paper Mill (Thailand). The mills were quickly stabilized and achieved record production in a short time.
He joined Punjapol Pulp & Paper Mills, when the mill was lying shut due to environmental and other teething problems. The evaporator tubes were regularly failing during that time. The Paper Machine was running slow due to use of superheated steam.
He took over as General Manager and before restarting the Pulp Mill, he thought the problems out. To look back, it looks so simple, but the mill suffered for three years. The problem traced was the use of high temperature and superheated steam in the Paper Machine and failure to check the desuperheater capacity in the pulp & recovery sections. The steam temperature was brought down to near saturated temperature. In four years after revival, not a single tube failed in the pulp or recovery sections. The paper machine could be speeded up to the rated capacity and still there was good margin left for steam consumption while at one time, the management was going to lay an additional steam line to cater the demand. Black liquor spillage was eliminated and recovery efficiency was improved. Earlier visitors, who used to know the company as full of black liquor in the drains or on floors, were pleasantly surprised to see final lagoon full of fish and recovery ESP running normal without belting smoke and with no black liquor spillage.
Mr. Tara is a thinking and action man. He says that sometimes we miss out simple points, when we do not review the Projects properly. When he joined one mill the expansion programme was already initiated to increase the production and speed of machines. But the consultants and mill people missed out that, there is puddle size press. Even if the machine speed had been increased, the net production of sized paper would have remained the same. Mill would not have been able to achieve the desired Surface Sized Paper production. After this was pointed out by him, the mill management was quick to react and ordered a new size press and the new film press became a part of the project. The mill could finally achieve rated expanded capacity.
At Abhishek Industries, he enjoyed his job without interference from top management. There were various challenges and other things to improve. The mill was known for making paper with ash content of 35-40%. Recovery Boiler was running only for 10 days with black liquor. To streamline the mill’s operations, pulp capacity was increased with same equipments & manpower. With the Recovery Boiler running at the rated capacity, the furnace oil usage was drastically reduced and the recovery efficiency jumped to +96%. The paper quality and contribution increased substantially after that. The mill started showing profits which gave confidence to the management to start a new project.
The new project included the world’s biggest wheat straw line with ECF bleaching and a fully imported paper machine. (He laughingly said that even the staircases were imported). Later, his health started deteriorating for which he took a break to improve his health, rejuvenate and fulfill his long ambition of visiting Kailash Mansarovar.
Two years back, when he joined APPM, the average age was 57 years in the mill and many retired people were continuing. He set about changing all that. So, B.Sc. graduates were recruited. The Business Review Meetings which were held in Hyderabad were shifted to the Rajahmundry. The presentations style was changed. From each department instead of department head, the shift in-charges were encouraged to give presentations so as to boost their confidence. Besides the regular budget, target budgets were also initiated which were higher than budget figures. To achieve the targets, Small Group Activities (SGA) were undertaken. He is very happy with the turnaround and the results speak for it. This was clearly visible from his expressions during the interview as the financial results of APPM were declared one night before the interview and APPM has achieved the highest PBT, PAT & EBIDTA. The profits were 3 times more than the previous year.
Commenting about empowering people he said: “My job is to motivate people. I get more satisfaction in trouble shooting & improving the mills by doing something new and different. I tell my team to experiment, if they have something in their minds, taking safety and environmental factors into consideration. If it succeeds you get the credit, if it fails you can put on me.”
In a light mood he also told us that when he was working in Bengal Paper Mill, whenever unions were on strike, they used to shout “DHUAN & CHAKKA BANDH” i.e. No Smoke & Stop Machinery. He made this as his own slogan and implemented it for better environment– “No black liquor should go to the effluent and no smoke from chimneys”.Hewants the mill to be operated in such a manner that, from a distance the heart should give a skip by looking at Chimneys whether the mill is running or shut.
Irrespective of the position he was holding he have been tested all the time, to which he smiled and said: “It happens to everyone, when you join a new organization. I have delivered wherever I worked. Learning and imparting skills & knowledge is a continuous process and I amlucky that god has been kind to me in all my endeavors”. “Experience is nothing but the mistakes that you do in course of your life. But learn from mistakes of yours & others and do not repeat the same”, he concluded.