MAN People: Atul Kulkarni, do all Strategic Business Units have
the same approach in Engineering?
Atul Kulkarni: MAN Energy Solutions has a very diverse portfolio, so the approach in
Engineering inevitably varies. We see the license model in the two-stroke
business and in-house production for our four-stroke engines in SBU-E, for
example. In SBUs Power and Turbomachinery, the emphasis
is on engineering for
How do you and your team respond?
We believe in successful relationships, communication
and transparent processes, so it is important for us to have robust contacts at
several levels. For that reason, we have modeled the Engineering organization
in India on what is found in Europe. Working methods, processes, tools, etc.,
have been harmonized too. That enables us to deploy employees from different
teams on projects, depending on priorities. In general, we prefer to work in
mixed teams with an extended range of tasks that includes documentation on the
part of EGS as much as engines and turbomachinery.
In what way does your team benefit from working on
this wide range of different tasks?
Our team has forged excellent relationships with
colleagues in Europe. Our competencies are many and varied, and we have a very
good internal network. I’d like to give you some examples. We have been able to
use the skills acquired through collaboration with SBU Power to develop the
business in small-bore engines from India. Our local sales teams now offer
engines from our in-house production in Aurangabad for global consumption. This
has opened up a new business opportunity for us. The same applies to the
technology transfer of MARC turbines for local and global markets, as a result
of which our sales team now has an expanded portfolio.
Where do you see cultural barriers?
That’s a very interesting point. There are cultural
differences between Europe and India, of course. Europeans are often very
direct, whereas Indians are more reserved in their communications. Familial and
social bonds are extremely important for Indians and it is simply normal to
talk about these topics. If, on the other hand, an Indian asks a European
colleague about their marital status, their parents or other family matters, it
is often seen as prying. It is important to be aware of the cultural
differences, respect them and be careful to avoid misunderstandings.
How do you gear up for the
We send our engineers to Europe on special courses.
Before traveling abroad, they receive input on cultural matters from
experienced colleagues. We also organize our own systematic courses with
professional trainers and organizers like the Goethe-Institut India. But I’d
say the most important thing is the support and understanding of our colleagues
you had to deal with a silo mentality too?
Yes, absolutely. I reckon people think in silos when
they fear for their own interests or fancy they have to protect their work from
unwarranted interference. To counteract this, we all have to see the bigger
picture, communicate openly, and understand other people’s views and the
benefits for the company as a whole.
How are you dealing with this?
We quite deliberately cross departmental boundaries in
our team. Two colleagues from our four-stroke team, for example, helped set up
an engineering team for PrimeServ Diesel and so were instrumental in landing
one of the biggest orders from customer NCL. This example shows that we
generate real benefits by jettisoning a silo mentality. The Engineering UNITED
initiative has set us on a very good course in this respect. I’d like to thank
all colleagues and employees for their contribution.
Why does it make sense
to overcome silo thinking, both for the individual employee and for the company
as a whole?
We can open up new perspectives and activate
unexploited potential. Learning from each other also means evolving personally,
of course. The company will benefit from greater solidarity, enabling it to
successfully take on the competition in these difficult times and approach our
customers as a team. It is about a collective effort and shared pride. We need
this mindset and have to leave prejudices behind in order to achieve it.
2007 to 2008
Master’s program at
University of Applied Sciences Emden, Germany, and thesis at MAN ES
2008 to 2011
Project engineer at
MAN ES, Augsburg
2011 to 2016
Head of Power Plant
Engineering in India
2016 to 2019
Head of 4-Stroke
Engineering & Small-Bore
Power Plants, India
Since April 2019
Head of Engineering
To counteract silo thinking, we all have to see the bigger picture,
communicate openly, and understand other
people’s views and the benefits for the company as a whole.
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