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Mr. Tarun Jha, one of the leading Business Leader and Head Marketing of Škoda Auto India in a candid discussion with our editorial team.
Q1. Tarun thank you for your time, our viewers would like to know, how has your journey been working with one of the top auto brand globally?
A1. ŠKODA AUTO is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world. It was established in 1895 in a town called Mladá Boleslav in the Czech lands. From being a humble bicycle manufacturing company to a global automotive brand, with a presence in more than 100 countries, is a fabulous journey for any brand. This makes us a very proud brand and makes me a very proud Skodian.
I’m about to complete 12 years with ŠKODA AUTO and it has been a wonderful journey of learning, doing, inventing and reinventing. I started out looking after Marketing Communications for the Indian market and then went on to serve the brand at the headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic. I was part of a new International Marketing team and spent a few lovely years working with markets across geographies. It was a great period of learning. This stint proved very useful when I came back to India in 2015 to head the Marketing and Product function for ŠKODA AUTO India.
The last few years have been very transformative for the auto industry as it is moving very quickly from a traditional product business to being a new-age service business. Since I am part of this massive transformation, it gives me immense satisfaction of being in a very agile and smart company.
Q2. What would be some of the key challenges for auto industry in post Covid era? How do you think consumer behavior will change in times to come?
A2. Despite the very low penetration of automobiles in India, it is still not an easy or affordable purchase for most. Buying a car is possibly the second most expensive purchase after a house for most Indians. With the Covid-19 crisis and its economic fallout, buying a car will be a bigger challenge for a lot of people. This drop in demand will be a major challenge in the days to come.
Customers will conserve their resources, corporates will struggle to manage their cash-flows and this will lead to either a postponement, or worse, cancellation of the decision of buying an automobile for some.
In terms of a change in customer behaviour, we can anticipate some preference for a personal mode of transport over public transport, keeping hygiene and safety in mind. There may be some customers who would prefer a completely contactless mode of car purchase, to avoid visiting points of sale. Customers will also look for financial products that cater to their immediate issues of liquidity. The retail environment of showrooms and workshops will also be evaluated on parameters of safety and hygiene.
Q3. Exciting times for marketing & business leaders with the way digital platforms and high tech marketing solutions have emerged?
A3. Yes, the current situation has accelerated the digital journey most brands had already embarked upon. We have always been a very experimental company, when it comes to adopting new technologies. We had piloted online booking of cars a decade ago, when it was not even well understood. As of today all our cars can be booked online and customers can make a payment online too. We have had an ownership app for our customers for years. This gives them control and also takes the brand closer to them.
We should not forget that technology is the means and not the end to achieve customer satisfaction and delight. Automobiles, for all the hi-tech they carry, are still a very emotional product for most people. We have to be careful not to lose this human touch in our business.
Q4. What are your key focus areas for 2020-21?
A4. Our focus areas are launching of all the products that are planned for the year; preparing a solid ground for future product launches in terms of getting our network, people and technology ready; and continuously keep working on keeping our customers delighted and happy with our products and services.
Q5. Our viewers would like to know that as a successful Business Leader what is your mantra for Success?
A5. Success is very subjective. I have no idea what is the measure of success as it changes from person to person and organisation to organisation. Clichéd as it may sound, I see it as a binary. The ability to achieve the organisation’s goals and the degree of happiness it brings to you and your immediate environment. If these are the measures, then my mantras for success are simple. (a) Hard work, which has no substitute; (b) Perseverance and determination; and (c) Being a good human being.
Q6. While you yourself are role model for many however who are your role models or leaders who have inspired you over the period of time?
A6. I have far too many inspirations in life to list them down. There are family members and teachers, bosses and juniors, artists and public figures. I look for traits in people that I find impressive and try to learn and apply them to myself. It does not always work, but at least I acknowledge them and try. Role models are not for the purpose of hero-worship. They are indicators of what works and what doesn’t.
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