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‘Problem-solving approach is a prerequisite to excel in life’

Naveen Gupta, an alumnus of Apeejay Panchsheel Park and Director at KK Manhole & Gratings Co Pvt Ltd, says if you are stuck with a problem don’t seek immediate help, give yourself adequate time to work out a solution



After completing his education from Apeejay in 1991  Naveen did B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi before moving to the US to pursue MS in Chemical Engineering from University of Florida. He also completed his MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago – Booth School of Business. While in the US he worked for Trinity Consultants, an environmental consulting company that specialises in industrial air quality issues and Booz Allen Hamilton, an American management and information technology consulting firm. He flew back to India in 2008 to join the family business. His company, KK Manhole & Gratings Co Pvt Ltd, manufactures precast concrete. In an interview, he talks about his business, decodes the ‘80/20 rule’,  explains the importance of problem-solving skills, and much more.

Tell us more about precast concrete?

Precast concrete is simply concrete that is cast somewhere other than where it will be used. It’s produced by casting concrete in a reusable mould or ‘form’ which is then cured in a controlled environment, transported to the construction site and lifted into place. In contrast, site-cast concrete is poured into site-specific forms and cured on site. When compared to site-cast concrete, precast is cheaper, durable, requires less labour and is not prone to theft as its resale value is not attractive. It also eliminates the weather factor as you can cast in any weather and get the same results. That’s why, railways stations and public parks have installed precast concrete benches. Our company has around 200 people and we manufacture chair bench, jersey barrier for traffic segregation, manhole cover and frame, boundary wall, drain cover, tree guard and balusters for beautiful balconies among others.

What are the key skills you learned during your stay in the US?

I learned to be resourceful by utilising the available tools to create a more positive outcome, which works well to solve problems. Secondly, I learned the importance of research skills which helps you to identify problems that are hindering performance, come up with viable solutions to those problems, come up with new services or products and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Lastly, I found my inner grit and determination. I also learned more about the 80/20 rule also known as the Pareto Principle and how it can help your business. Simply put, the 80/20 principle puts forward the idea that 80 percent of results come from only 20 percent of the causes for a given event. In businesses, it’s used to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority. 

Is it critical for businesses to evolve?  

Yes, if they have to be relevant, innovative, and competitive. An entrepreneur must focus on staying ahead of the curve and fostering creativity and new ideas because what worked in the past probably won’t work in the future. The Covid-19 pandemic too has accelerated the adoption of disruptive technologies and necessitated a thorough overhaul of existing business strategies. In such a scenario, you must keep reinventing yourself, your business and your goals.

What are the key skills you learned in school that you use in real life?

I would like to emphasise that quality school education is the key to developing character, building social and life skills. It’s more important than higher education. Unfortunately, our education system lays greater stress on testing knowledge than knowledge development. Students are taught rote learning which presents no opportunity to think and reason. I am thankful to my school for inculcating analytical skills and ethics in me which helped in the real world. The school also taught me the importance of being humble. When you demonstrate humility, others feel valued and enjoy their time with you.

Your message to budding entrepreneurs.

Problem-solving approach is a prerequisite to excel in life.If you are stuck with a problem don’t seek immediate help. Give yourself an adequate amount of time to work out a solution. You can even put the problem on the back burner for a couple of days before reattempting it. This is really beneficial as after the break you can view the problem with a fresh perspective and be able to identify and apply different strategies to solve the problem. In the long-run this practice will also hone your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]