Thursday, July 24, 2014

My work experience with Tata Zambia Limited (2010 - 2013)

Tata has existed in Zambia for over 50 years. Today, Tata is the market leader in Zambia in the medium commercial vehicles (MCV) segment, and its LPT 1518 model has had a significant presence in the Zambian market. Tata Zambia has contributed significantly to expanding the Tata group's business activities in other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana and South Africa. Zambia was the first country in Africa to start the Tata operations; it has vehicles ranging from small commercial vehicles (SCV) to heavy commercial vehicles (HCV).  
Tata Zambia Limited (2013)

 I was privileged to work for Tata Zambia Limited for 3 years from 7th January 2010 – 30 September 2013. Our then General Manager was Mr. Joseph H. Mutale and he was a good and reasonable man to work with, he oriented and introduced me to a lot of customers that Tata had done business with in the past and he did a one-on-one product training with me. I was the only one in the vehicle sales department and I had the responsibility of initiating sales up to the time of delivery. My three years at Tata was indeed a good experience in my personal life and it was good working with the Indians.

I was employed as a Vehicle Sales Executive and I worked with Patricia Zulu who was in charge of the registration process of the vehicles once they are sold up to the point of delivering them. She was assisted by Sungwe Siame who was in charge of the clearing of vehicles once they were about to expire from bond and also clearing vehicles once customers paid for the same. These two workmates were reporting to me and I was also reporting to them. Communication is a very important tool in any organization and so I had to communicate to them whenever I collected a pay cheque from a customer on a particular vehicle. Patricia had to allocate a vehicle from the bonded warehouse and Sungwe would proceed with the clearing of the vehicle. It would take us about 10 working days to finally have all documentations done and a white book ready before the customer could come and collect it. The sales team comprised of 4 people, Mr Joseph Mutale, myself, Patricia and Sungwe.

Vehicles displayed at the 2013 Agriculture & Commercial Show in Lusaka
The Executive Director Mr Sudhir Arora was a strict man and I really liked his way of doing business and sorting out issues. He interacted frequently with his fellow directors at his level intelligently and kept business booming in terms of motor vehicle sales, he was also the Director of TAJ Pamodzi Hotel which is one of the best Hotels in the capital city of Lusaka. His office was open to everyone that needed to air his/her view in line with work or other issues that were relating to personal and moral living… the ‘open door policy’ was practiced at Tata.

My probation period was for 3 months and by the grace of God I managed to sell 9 vehicles in my first month and 7 trucks in my second month when the Target was to sell at least 5 vehicles per month. I was reporting directly to the General Manager as we did not have a Sales manager at the time. I was later on confirmed after three months.

Patrick and Ivy my workmates
I learned so many things while working for Tata and time came when I was being stretched a lot and thus another Sales Executive was employed to help out… Tito Ngoma came at the right when I was trying to push in a leave form for my wedding on the Copperbelt. He had a background of Information Technology and very well acquainted at innovating and learning new things. I had the challenge of orienting him of which I think I did a good job. We worked together as very close pals for over a year until management saw his skills and decided to take him to another department Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

There I was again, back to square one and reporting to the General Manager again. After a few months Charles Katunga was employed as a sales Executive shortly after he finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the Copperbelt University. I oriented him and we were slowly getting along together. Our General Manager then made a few changes and divided us according to products. Charles was given the small commercial vehicles (SCV) and low commercial vehicles (LCV) and on the other hand I was given the medium commercial vehicles (MCV) and the heavy commercial vehicles (HCV).

Vehicle Display at Makeni Mall - me and Obino Salasini
Patricia got a better offer from another company and she pushed in a resignation letter. Management tried to plead with her not to go but she insisted on leaving. This came as a blow as her job was a bit tricky and needed someone who was sharp. Mr Arora our Executive Director also retired and for some reason I began to think that it was a down fall of Tata. Thank God that when people leave, God raises others to continue where things were left.

From left to right: Edward, Conrad & Chimuka
Another young lady by the name Thokozile Jere joined to fill up Patricia’s position, she once worked for Tata in Ndola but left because she got married to a man who was working Lusaka so she had to resign and relocate to Lusaka. She was doing the same things that Patricia was doing in Lusaka, so she quickly fit in Patricia’s shoes and work continued to move on. Mr. Pankaj Khana who was the General Manager in Ndola moved to Lusaka to be the country head of Tata Zambia. A big party was thrown for Mr Arora and a few speeches were said to wish him well. He also said a number of somethings and encouraged us to continue working hard. The coming of Mr Khana as the new Executive Director effected a lot of changes. He employed more sales guys in the vehicle sales department and increased the sales Target. Our sales team grew with Chimuka Chibawe and Edward Musukwa joining the team. After some time two more Sales Executives were employed; Conrad Kafwanka and Obino Salasini. We used to hold a lot of promotion activities namely; motor vehicle displays, road shows, Show exhibitions and many other activities. Mr. Khana also implemented the ‘Open door policy’ and we started having sales meetings with him every Thursday

At the Lusaka Agriculture & commercial show with my bosses (2013)
 in the evening to discuss sales and review our daily performance. Conrad resigned as he found a better job somewhere else and so did Obino.

Jaguar Land Rover PLC is a British premium automaker headquartered in Whitley, Coventry, United kingdom and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Motors since June 2008, when it was acquired from Fold Motor Company. Its principal activity is the development, manufacture and sales of Jaguar luxury and sports cars and Land Rover premium four wheel drive vehicles. It also owns the currently dormant Daimler, Lanchester and Rover Brands. 

Me with Ian at Yeti Motors launch of a latest model
Ian from Britain came as a consultant into Zambia and played a vital role in establishing the offices and improving the infrastructure in Lusaka.This  came with a new company under Tata Zambia called Alliance Motors and it deals in the Jaguar/ Land Rover and a number of people where employed in all departments from workshop, vehicle sales, cashier and General Manager. Alliance motors Limited is under the care of Tata Motors and their offices are now established in Lusaka.

Tata Show Room with the luxurious Jaguar & Land Rover
Chimuka and me in the Show Room in Lusaka
In my final year at Tata, I was sent to Jamshedpur India to visit an assembly plant as there was a new product to be launched in the Zambian market; Tata Prima Horses and Tippers. I was the only one selected from Zambia to go and visit the assembly plant in Jamshedpur and be trained on the Prima and how it is operated, it was yet to be launched in Zambia at the time.

Jamshedpur Assembly Plant in India (January 2013)
While in India, I met a lot of people from different parts of the world with different cultures. Some of which I used to just communicate by way of e-mail and so seeing them face-to-face was such a great privilege. I had a good time learning from others and it was a fruitful trip for me as I learnt a lot of new sales techniques and increased knowledge in the products and many other branches that Tata has. It was really a challenge to hear how our friends in Iraq were able to sale a lot of vehicles in one month despite the war that has been going on there. In Africa we had representatives from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria.

My visit to one of Indian Mines where the Tata Prima was working
When I came back from India, I began to market the heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) which includes the Prima and Novus; I hardly sold any of these models despite my vigorous customer visits and display promotions. My boss Mr Mutale kept encouraging me and said with time I will sell. Most customers were looking at the price and preferred going for used heavy duty vehicles on the Zambian market as they were far much cheaper than the brand new trucks 

Well, I think time for me to leave Tata drew near as I began to sense a call back to the company I worked for in Kitwe for Four (4) years. I was interviewed by my previous employer C&B Engineering limited and my last day at Tata Zambia was on 30th September 2013. I then started work at C&B Engineering on 7th October 2013 as a Product Manager.  

Receiving a participation certificate at the Lusaka Motor Show from Bobby Singh