My entry to the auto industry was a mere coincidence — Pankaj Bohra

Pankaj Bohra is an ace automotive technical and service operations professional. Widely travelled and very knowledgeable in all things auto repairs and servicing, Pankaj is Head, Technical Operations at Cars45. Since joining Cars45, he has brought his imprimatur to the Cars45 well-famed inspection reports and provides leadership to our dynamic, talented inspection/auto servicing officers. Before Cars45, Pankaj was National Aftersales Manager and Service Manager for Nissan/Stallion Motors as well as Team Lead for Galaxy Toyota, New Delhi. Pankaj is a Nissan Certified Service Manager and has experience in CRM, workshop and service marketing, operations, and delivery.

What was your first job in automotive technical/service operations; and how did you get into this space?

I started my career with Bajaj Auto Limited, an Indian multinational two-wheeler and three-wheeler manufacturing company in 1995. Although Automobile Engineering was my passion during my engineering college days however entry to the auto industry was a mere coincidence.

What was the biggest challenge you faced starting out?

The biggest challenge for me at that time was that I was just 17-year-old boy and I had to manage mechanics and technicians who were almost double of my age. This was an introductory yet critical phase in my career journey but eventually I managed to earn their respect in a very short period of time.

What is a normal workday like for you in Cars45?

I start my day by reading all my emails and responding to them. Then I connect with my team members to review the progress on jobs assigned and review the issues or complaints received from the customers/franchises. I then attend scheduled meetings with colleagues, clients and partners. I close the day by going through emails and responding to them.

What are the qualities that automotive technical personnel should have?

Any automotive technician should strive for a mastery and thorough understanding of components and their functions in the machine. You need to develop your problem solving skills, pay attention to every detail and importantly, you need to be able to ask the right questions in order to identify the root cause of any complaint or issue.

On the managerial side, the person should be able to analyze processes and constantly modify them to optimize effectiveness; increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Inspections are a core part of what we do at Cars45. How have you improved this? And how has the market reacted to this service?

Interestingly the Cars45 team has been working very hard to make the inspection process more accurate and transparent for customers and stakeholders.

When I joined the organization, I reviewed the entire process with the team and gathered the information on the impediments to achieving the objectives of accurate, professional and easy to understand inspection report.

We modified the 192-points inspection process to a 220+ points by adding few more inspection check points to achieve desired results. Also, we have simplified the process in a way that even a non-technical person can also carry out an inspection with little training.

What tips do you have for car users that can ensure the life of their vehicles is better maximized?

The biggest problem I came across in my eight years in Nigeria is poor absorption of Preventive Maintenance culture which ultimately makes the vehicle to break down midway and you see a lot of congestion on the roads and as well as increased repair costs. I urge and recommend to all vehicle owners to develop habit of carrying out Preventive Maintenance at recommended intervals and these services can be availed at GoMechanic45 service network across multiple locations.

How do you manage the young people on your team?

The millennial generation are a great bunch, they are tech savvy and full of energy and innovation. I empower them by giving them tasks with liberty to take decisions on their own without the fear of failure. I support them at the back end to accomplish those tasks. They are involved in decision making and provide the enabling environment for a collaborative working experience. This ultimately helps in building a strong relationship among team members.

How can the automotive technical sector grow in Nigeria?

Nigeria’s automotive sector is growing rapidly. We have seen that automotive trade — sales and aftersales happens in unorganised business places. Interestingly, the Federal Government is trying to develop and regulate the sector by implementing the National Automotive Industry Development Plan through the National Automotive Design and Development Council. This move will ultimately help the industry to grow locally and save the country a lot of forex from importing cars and components.

Generally there isn’t much data available to analyze the product quality, issues and performances of Nigerian used cars However we have collected data via our inspection reports and we can add value to the government in helping them to determine legislative requirements and OEMs can too utilize the database for product improvement for the Nigerian market. I see the cost of car ownerships reducing once we grow capacity for the industry.

To grow the industry, there is need to develop technical skills and competencies among young people by introducing automotive courses and vocational training programs which addresses the dire needs of advancing skills needed to handle modern automobiles. This should be done on a macro level and I think a PPP model will help to scale this up. This also helps to develop great human resources for the automotive industry in a manner that produces qualified professionals for new plants and creates an organized repair industry.

What is your biggest learning so far in your various roles?

I might sound clichéd, but it rings true every time — “Customer is the king.” I had quickly learnt this in the early years of my professional life.

Do you have role models? Is there a leader that inspires you?

Honestly, I don’t have any role model. I always try to learn from different leaders.

Can you describe yourself?

This is the most difficult question. I’ll leave this to my friends and colleagues to answer.

Can you sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence?

Stay calm and focused, enjoy what you do, and results will follow.

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career that has aided you?

Never be afraid of change, it is the only constant in the universe.

When you are not under the hood, what do you love to do?

Reading articles about innovation, books, and connecting with family and friends.