Swati D

Technical Sales Manager- Robotics

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Mechanical Engineering hasn’t been a preferred choice for many, and hardly so amongst girls. With the IT boom on full swing in 90s increasing the demand for software engineers in and from India, it would be hard for someone to not get lured. In this interview, we are profiling someone who pursued mechanical engineering for the love of it and very soon found her calling in Robotics. One of the very few women in this field, she’s taking us through her interesting and inspiring journey. Meet Swati D, Technical Sales/ Proposals manager- Auto tier 1-Robotics & Discrete Automation.

We are in a very interesting stage here, in India, for Robotics. While the adoption here isn’t as high as in Japan or USA, the awareness and demand is steadily increasing. Swati leads the techno commercial profile for robotics system business automotive tier 1, for Pan India - a role that demands understanding customer requirements in detail, partnering with the sales team for an impactful pitch and preparing techno commercials in accordance. This has been, a recent role elevation for her as she previously managed similar role for West India.

“Automotive has seen the highest adoption, other industries too are opening up to it gradually. It’s an interesting time for Robotics in India.” Swati remarks talking about the field industry she has been with right from her college training days.

“In the last couple of years, the awareness has grown multi-fold. So much so that we often end up getting unique demands from small scale businesses or general customers. While initially our conversations were usually about how robotics can help industries, now it has shifted to how can a Return on Investment (RoI) be ensured since customers are price- sensitive and would like to compare their erstwhile tools with the efficiency robots can bring.” She adds talking specifically about the Indian customers.

Swati has been pitching robots to the customers for the last five years that she has been with ABB. As a technical sales lead her role involves assessing application, customer requirements and deliver a techno commercial proposal. She meets plant heads and decision makers for varied accounts, which of course involves extensive travel and that too, to remote places.

“Travelling hasn’t been a challenge since I knew it is intrinsic to the path I am choosing. Initially my parents had concerns on my safety, security as some places I needed to travel to, had fewer travel options and the trains / flights would generally be scheduled for late night. What was more concerning for me was the lack of amenities for women at most of these plant locations. Some of the places for instance, did not even have a restroom for women. These were small scale businesses that did not have women staff. All this is gradually changing now with more women workforce seen everywhere."

Swati has had quite a few accolades professionally. During the Customer Connect Program in Pune in 2018, she won the contest for CCP Champion - the one who has generated maximum customer leads. The India West Team was awarded the Best Performing Zone for consistent growth and new customer acquisition in the same year. And, she secured an award for her individual contribution as an X-tra Miler for her customer support initiative.

Born in Pune, Swati had her first stint with robotics during her college training at Tata Motors. She was so curious to know about robots that the then manager saw a potential in her and recommended her for a job in a business that dealt with the field. Her parents who had always valued financial independence and individual decision making for their kids were more than happy with her decision to pursue what she was passionate about.

“When I chose mechanical engineering though, I did get a word of caution from people around me since it wasn’t considered suitable for women. In a class of 60 there were just 5 girls. But I was sure of what I wanted to do, and my parents were sure of me, so we all just went ahead.”

Swati pursued a Diploma from Govt. Polytechnic, Pune & sandwich mechanical engineering course from AISSMS, COE, Pune university.

“Most of the clients I have been meeting have been pleasantly surprised looking at a woman selling robots but have been extremely encouraging. Even within ABB, I’ve only been moving northwards with the confidence that my managers and colleagues have shown in me. After five years, I now have a team of people supporting me.”

For the curious ones, it is interesting to note how the team has been demonstrating solutions to the first time customers. A large scale beverage giant based in India wanted to deep dive into the ROI as the Capex of having a robotics solution is high. The team simulated a real solution to showcase how a solution can optimize efforts and increase productivity to bring about the same results in lesser time.

“First time customers usually have a little paranoia around the investment which is very normal considering the relatively lower cost a traditional system would ask for. We have to demonstrate the efficiency robots can bring and at times, pull out case studies to showcase how our robots have been helping customers across industries to deliver more.”

Swati has been an academically bright person, always fond of being in the spotlight. She has been actively involved in extra curricular activities and is a trained Kathak dancer. Interestingly, she found her life partner here in ABB, and says he has been a great support in helping her shape her life the way she’d like to. She wishes to keep growing both professionally and personally taking more in her stride.

We wish her all the success.

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