Rahul Mitra: A Roadmap to Switching Careers

When we go to the depths of a hill, what we find is that the heights are not achievable. Do you agree to this? Well, I don’t. This is just the beginning where we drive and thrive our senses until we jump and fly. My idea to experience the heights would be to immerse yourself in the depths of the hill until you reach a point where you cannot dig or climb.

Exploring the endless sand dunes in Dubai

Ever since I was a kid, I remember tinkering with Lego blocks and Mechanics – we didn’t have Bob the Builder in India! That, combined with my penchant for Science and Mathematics, made for a great combination – I was usually among the crème de la crème in academics, but wasn’t the nerdy one. As I graduated from secondary school, while most of my peers were in a dilemma about their career options, I had my goals defined and so my choice was always clear. I loved Mechanical engineering, and ended up joining a specialized Bachelors of Technology program in Automotive Design Engineering.

This turned out to be an adventure park for me. I could drive cars, quench my thirst for all the curiosities I ever had and build them from scratch. I never realized studying could be so fun when you could literally convert your notes into an actual vehicle.

An all-terrain buggy we developed as a team for the National Baja-2012. I'm the driver.

An electric pedicab that won a National Innovation Award in Efficycle-2013

The persistent hard work, my constant fiddling with machines, and the exceptional internship experience at Maruti Suzuki, landed me with one of the most sought after jobs in 2015 with Honda Cars– a global automotive leader.

In this role as a Production line leader, I was required to supervise a team of 120 line associates, who come from diverse backgrounds, and work as semi-skilled laborers at the plant. This has been an amazing experience, allowing me to grow as a leader and as a human being. While there are several technical challenges to overcome, the harder ones are those involving people - resolving conflicts, motivating the team, weeding out low performers, and recognizing and rewarding the top talent. As a manager, I’m focused on constantly developing my team and getting them better skilled, while I do the same to earn their respect as a hands-on leader. I also focus on growing new leaders – delegating and empowering my team to attain maximum availability, performance and quality.

The future of automotive industry is expected to move from automated to autonomous. In a world where machines are able to communicate with each other and learn, the production techniques and methods are also evolving to keep up. The most fundamental challenge is the volume of data at our disposal, making decision making extremely complex. As I see it, there is an increasing need for Production engineers and supervisors like my humble self to get familiarized with these skills in order to create more impact.

At this point, I feel ready to embark upon this challenging, exciting and beautiful journey in the form of a roller coaster ahead of me. I am proud to be a part of the TLP (Technology Leadership Program) at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona. This is a dual degree course consisting of both the MBA and MIS cohorts that would allow me to invest in my own professional development. I was the fortunate one to receive a 100% scholarship for the same. And here I am all set to dive into the pool of opportunities and develop a sense of curiosity every day.

The serene campus of University of Arizona surrounded by the ornate hills

While continuing this roadmap, I would now like to shift gears and accelerate on an adventurous race track where nobody wins but everybody learns. The experiences I had in my life both personally and professionally have had a great impact in teaching me the behavioral aspects of people and how to be empathetic towards them. In the past role, I was being challenged everyday with huge sets of raw data that did not make much sense. This inclined me to learn data analytics tools that proved to be influential, making my job easier and igniting a spark to think about the next step. My main focus during an internship next year would be to get acquainted with the methodology and a well-planned framework that companies use to develop their businesses and gain future insights from a humongous amount of data. A well structured internship program that gives me hands on experience on gaining such skills would be a win-win situation. I will be seeking for Data Analyst, Business Analyst and project management roles in the automotive industry that would provide a booster to my marathon and equip me with the appropriate weapons to attack an upcoming anomaly in my journey.

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