Women in Print: Rani Chitale

Rani V Chitale, who heads the Pune-based V Joshi and Company, has been accorded with two honours; one from the Poona Press Owner's Association (PPOA) and one from the All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP)

25 Mar 2014 | By Anand Srinivasan

How did you enter the printing industry?
At the outset I would like to state that it was not a conscious decision taken on my part to join the printing industry. My father the late Vinayak Appaji Joshi alias “Kaka” had established V Joshi & Co. in the year 1960 with the help of very limited resources available at his disposal. Over a period of time V Joshi & Co. earned very high reputation while the main focus was on letterpress art printing and commercial block making bureau.

Fortunately, our printing press is located besides the residence, so I never felt like I am joining the printing industry as such. It was a routine thing for me since my childhood to go to the press for one reason or the other. Thus, my continuous association with our press has inculcated in me all the required knowledge and skills essential to run a printing press both from the technical and commercial point of view.

Did you have any mentors along the way?
My family supported me right from the beginning when I started working regularly in the press. It was from my father that I acquired the basic techniques required to work in the printing environment. Like me, my elder brother Suhas Joshi was also engaged in looking after V Joshi & Co., who always extended his whole hearted support as and when required.

Thus, I was fortunate enough to receive guidance from my family right from the very beginning. Moreover, my husband Ulhas Chitale was giving continuous support and encouragement, without which it was next to impossible to give justice to the daunting task. Initially, father acted as my mentor and afterwards my elder brother and my dear husband to then I certainly wish to offer my deep gratitude.

What’s your forte?
My forte is to persistently focus on enhancing internal/external customer’s satisfaction. Also, I consciously strive for continuous improvement in our procedures, processes and systems with an objective to improve our business processes and add value to the experience of our customers.

How do you begin your day? What is your daily routine?
In the first half, I generally take an overall view of the jobs after that I do check my mailbox for emails and then I start my routine work with the “to-do list” made in the previous day which I make sure finishes by the end of the first half.

In the second half, I have discussions with my brother regarding any client specific agenda or other job related issues. The second half also includes reviewing the status of the jobs which are in process, follow-ups for payments with customers, accounting issues, if any, checking all the invoices to be raised and general administrative work.

In the fag-end of the day, I prepare the “to-do list” for the next day and also plan for the jobs which are to be executed or are to be considered for the next day.

Do you interact with print  production supervisors? If yes, how frequently? What do you normally discuss?
I do have constant interaction not only with the production supervisors but directly with every machine and equipment operator and together we discuss the typical specifications varying from job to job. This helps in delivering highest possible quality and at the same time, it becomes easier for me to look into and resolve human as well machinery related issues, if any.

Do you have any sales strategy? Anything in particular to motivate your sales and marketing team?
The majority of our customers are repetitive; hence one of our main strategies is to keep customer and his needs in focus and make every possible attempt to add value in order to achieve the overall customer satisfaction. Further, taking in to account our existing infrastructure we are in process of building a robust sales/marketing team and accordingly designing a specialised training programme.

Corporate philosophy
Mission; demonstrate an edge to all our stakeholders in our offerings for converting/transmitting energy and strive to make our company an employer of choice.

Values; keep our commitment constant towards all our stakeholders.  

Customer focus; enhance internal/external customer's satisfaction.

Commitment; achieve our targets and be responsible for our commitments.

Continual improvement; consciously work to improve our procedures, processes and systems with an objective to improve our business processes.

Ethical business practices; being fair in our dealings with all our stakeholders. It will be based on integrity, honesty and transparency.

Do you feel women shy away from taking lead in this kind of industry? If yes, your views
Considering my own experience I am not of this opinion. There are various women in this field, who have taken a lead in this industry and have created their own identity such as Amitaji Singhvi, director of International Print O Pack (New Delhi).

I never found any difference while working with men or women. I was born and brought up working and interacting with them in our printing press including my father, brother or the other employees. Further, I would like to state that I never came across with any kind of discrimination between men or women. I never came across such an impediment but I have a firm belief that it can be tackled smartly.

What are the main challenges for a printer in India?
Surviving itself seems to be an issue for all kinds of printers in the changing environment. Moreover, with the technological developments and changes, it has rather become difficult for a printer to invest in a right technological equipment and machinery.

Capital – As any other capital intensive industry, printing machines are extremely costly hence, everyone cannot afford the heavy investment due to which many printers had to compromise and are forced to purchase used or second hand machinery. And many a times bankers do not prefer to finance the second hand machinery but on the other side the printers are not in a position to afford the brand new machinery or at times pay back the installments.

Labour – Hiring and retaining quality skilled workers is another issue, which has plagued the printing industry since it has evolved. Also, there are common labour problems like strikes, lockdowns and agitations etc. mainly for wage hikes from time to time.

Raw Material – In the printing industry, raw material is always priced on the higher side due to quality issues. If a printer wants high quality raw material then he has to pay substantially higher price for the raw material. Further, there is also an element of scarcity in the supply of requisite raw materials especially for block making.

Electricity – Thanks to the constant power outages, many of the printers have to install generators in order to keep their businesses running. Usage of generators on a constant basis leads to higher costs of production and more pollution, which finally results in higher price of the finished product lowering the margins for a printer.

Are you involved with a trade printing association? Or have you set up your own peer group to meet periodically to talk about resources, challenges, etc faced by our industry.
I am proud to mention that V Joshi and Co. is associated with the local Poona Press Owners Association (PPOA) almost since the inception of our organization. This association is deeply engaged in organizing various events, seminars and workshops for the larger benefit of the printing industry from the city of Pune.

The open platform created by the Association provides ample opportunities to discuss and deliberate the general, financial and technical issues concerning the printing and packaging industry many times arriving at an amicable solution most suited for the industry at large. It was indeed a pride moment when in the year 2009 the Poona Press Owners Association rewarded me with the Yashswini Award for my contribution of 25 years in the field of printing and graphic arts.

The membership with this association further provides me an opportunity to network with the printer community on the all India level due to the affiliation of the PPOA with the All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) and rest of the Associations from all over India. It was as well a proud moment while receiving the “Young Woman Entrepreneur Award” in the year 2013, given by the AIFMP in a glittering ceremony of Diamond Jubilee held in Chennai.  

What according to you is the future of the printing industry? And what are your aspirations for your press by 2020?
Going by the current scenario and the rate of technological growth and development, it is inevitable that the printing industry will substantially become knowledge and capital intensive by 2020. Also, there will be increasing demand for skilled labour to operate the high-tech machines. The process of forward and backward integration will reach its maturity and printers will have to offer majority of services under one roof. It would thus, integrate both the prepress and post-press processes under one roof.

I think that the printing industry will be more dependent on digital processes requiring selective investments in terms of technology, capital and manpower. In house training will also become utmost necessary, for which printing industry should be well equipped for delivering the quality jobs to the satisfaction of the end users. The study shows that there will be rise in demand for print products in India and due to globalisation of Indian printing industry, will find its pace to tap the business opportunities in the international market.

By 2020, India will be a major printing and packaging hub thus hopefully policy makers and governments would prefer to encourage the printing industry to set up clusters having all the potential facilities and infrastructure. Thus, my aspiration is to take our unit V Joshi & Co on the path of integration through digitalisation by establishing very efficient workflow in pre-press, press and post-press, under one roof.

What do you like about this industry and about your profession?
The printing industry is giving me all the more satisfaction not only in terms of achieving the business goals but in terms of creating something new and innovative every time. The industry has given me and our press many well-wishers and friends across the country. Although the size of the industry compared to other industries may be not so large but this industry itself is always bubbling, alive and striving hard to absorb newer technologies and ready to face challenges all the time.

This perhaps could be the motivating factor keeping me so active and alive in the print media industry in spite of all the adversaries and challenges from other competing media.     

Can you tell us some interesting memories with regard to some landmark projects you have handled in your career?
My most favourite job was a marriage invitation card designed and crafted entirely by us. The job was very different in a sense that it was designed very uniquely in the shape of a “kalash” and was crafted very precisely. The job demanded high level of creativity vis-à-vis designing it and executing it very precisely. One small mistake would have resulted in huge losses. But we had the confidence and resources of completing it successfully.

After successfully completing of the job as per the clients requirements and receiving due appreciation from the client gave me immense pleasure and deep satisfaction, which cannot be otherwise explained in words.