Saumil Thanawala

Brand Building and Product Development at Wheybetterfoods Pvt. Ltd.

Q. For our readers, can you tell us about your job profile and elaborate on the industry you are currently working in?

Hello, my job profile is Brand Building and Product Development at Wheybetterfood Pvt. Ltd. in the area of fortified and nutritional foods and beverages. Here, we work with various ingredients to fortify consumable foods specifically ingredients such as probiotics, proteins, vitamins and fibres.

Q. What are the upcoming domains, technologies and skill sets in the industry that are high in demand right now and expect an even further surge in the coming years?

The immediate domains that I have seen coming up in recent years and have future potential are food science and food technology which include processes that can extract healthy ingredients from natural sources to further enrich foods and beverages.

Q. How big is the gap between the average quality of engineers in our country and the required level in the industry? What steps can the government and colleges take to reduce this gap?

When we work with young engineers, we feel that there is a certain lack of industrial experience and practical knowledge even though they are adept at theory. I feel more importance should be given to developing a certain skillset to make them more industry ready.
If feasible, an international professor should be brought in for a period to give them a worldwide perspective. Also, opportunities should be given to students to work for a month or two in another country to gain experience and hence make them ready for what the future holds.

Q. How important are soft skills to become successful in any industry? How do you think colleges can prepare students better and improve this aspect (soft skills)?

Soft skills, typically defined as communication, creativity, coaching and mentoring, personality development, motivation, negotiation and time management plays a huge part in becoming an industry executive and is important for anyone starting out as an employee. It can be promoted in colleges via simulations, case studies and multiple debates. Calling industry experts to interact with students helps developing these soft skills and teaches them interpersonal skills, how to manage the HR objectives of a company, understanding the ethos of a company, how to conduct and carry oneself in a company etc which is very important to fit in into the industry and do well in one’s job.

Q. With the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ programmes launched by the government in 2014 and 2015 respectively, what are the noticeable impacts of these programmes in the industry?

Make In India- India, being an agrarian country has always had raw materials but lacked the technology to work with it. But now with this campaign, the food industry is boosted due to the availability of improved technologies and processes leading to increased production and self-reliance. This has led to companies saving costs and making their products more cost-effective for the consumers in our country.
Digital India- India is slowly moving towards a cashless and paperless economy where everything is done digitally. Your taxes, GST payments, transfer of funds, receiving receivables from consumers can all be done at the click of a button. Manpower requirement and time-wastage has been reduced within our industry.

Q. What advice would you like to give to an engineer who is in the first or second year of his/her course?

The advice I would give is that besides studies, students should spend a lot of time on extra curriculars, reading, taking part in industrial activities, doing internships, visiting trade shows, talking to a lot of people in the industries, networking and studying business courses. This would help a student have a diverse skillset and a well-rounded personality rather than a student who is just focussed on the academic course. Conclusively, it is very important for a student to spend as much time outside college as he does inside classrooms while sitting for lectures.

Q. What are the different ways you think you can collaborate with our department and help our students?

It’s great to give back so we can provide them perspectives on the various aspects of a business, what all is required to run a startup or business, how mistakes have been made, how one can correct course etc. We can provide them a vision or a story they can relate to and tell them how life is actually going to be like once they step out of university.