Q: How did you end up in the printing industry?
Ramalakshmi Nizam (RN): To be honest, it was an accidental opportunity and temporary choice while I was waiting to secure an engineering seat. However, after attending the introduction class at IPT (June 1996), I decided to continue the course inspite of having secured admission in engineering.
Q: What is the one thing about print that attracted you – and still attracts you?
RN: For me it was the employment opportunity and the possibility of an entrepreneurial adventure.
Q: List your memories of education in Coimbatore. Did it enable you to examine the ideas that drive our industry? For example, deadlines. In that sense, which was the toughest deadline you had to execute?
RN: One unforgettable memory is our preparation for the campus interview. Everything – designing, printing, die-punching, and distribution – was handled by the students. It was an A4 greeting card style with die-punching on the inside. The first invitation was sent to Thomson Digital and we got an appointment letter on the same day. Promptly, we invited them to visit us for placement.
Q: How many consumers truly understand print? How can we change their attitude?
RN: Consumer’s awareness about print is surprising. Instead of trying to change their attitude, we could think of convincing them with our product and try out different concepts.
Q: Stringent turnaround times and fairly modest margins haven’t stopped printers in making a name for themselves. What is your company’s USP?
RN: To bring perfection and quality in the industry while meeting deadlines.
Q: Describe your role in the organisation. Also, how does an organisation such as yours operate differently in today’s market, than it did in the past?
RN: For me, the tables have turned. From being a supplier to FMCG clients, to being a FMCG client. It helps me communicate confidently for better outputs as I am aware of the process as well as the restrictions.
Q: Describe a typical day in your life.
RN: My day starts with a daily meeting with my boss for updates and targets for the day. A host of activities takes place through the day including calls and emails for coordination with various teams, meeting suppliers, following up on deadlines etc.
I wish that the industry has more professionals; and not just in term of qualification. It is all about the attitude because even a negligent dot can create massive waste. I strongly believe that zero wastage is possible with better control in pre-press and that is the main aim of Yesgo too.
Q: How do you share valuable know-how with your customers? Especially when one looks at the current state of technology and the capabil-ities which are required for publishers / brands / agencies to survive and thrive?
RN: We are automatically creating awareness by providing solutions that are cost effective and convenient to the end user.
Q: The industry is very creative, and this is an area that women tend to be strong at. One creative project you handled?
RN: Creativity, to me, is not necessarily a new thing. It could be a slight change, update, or adjustment, which makes processes more convenient and cost effective.
Q: Is print now a better industry for women to work in?
RN: I don’t think so. It has probably been the same since 1999, when I completed my diploma.
Q: Have you ever felt that your gender placed you at a disadvantage?
RN: Not at all. I have achieved what is considered a man’s job like plate mounting and makeready in targeted time (offset, flexo) on my own.
Q: While the pay in print is on the lower end compared to other median manufacturing industries, its average hourly pay gap between genders was found to be glaring, and there is a pay gap.
RN: Due to the tremendous growth of the manufacturing sector driven by rapid globalisation, urbanisation, rising middle class consumerism, and marketing, the printing and packaging industry is witnessing its best surge today. Job opportunities are increasing and it’s rapidly attracting youth to consider the industry as one of the best career options today. If we study recent campus placements in printing institutes, we can see that students are offered a handsome package by big players in the industry. Printing and packaging has undoubtedly become one of the most lucrative career options.
As far as gender-based pay gap is concerned, we cannot single out our industry alone. The problem is prevalent in almost all the sectors. It needs to be addressed strongly by women professionals and the employers need to bridge this gap.
Q: Our industry is modern and high-tech. Today advances in technology have eliminated some of the heavy lifting and you do see more women in production now. But how can we make print business an attractive proposition than it was in the 20th century?
RN: I definitely wish this could happen. Online /remote job with limited hours at office will ensure more women contribute to this industry or a fixed time at office – usually based on school time etc., can be considered to balance work and personal life.n