Vishwadeep Khatri interviewed Shalini Agarwal recently to know about her career progress and her experience with Six Sigma.
BSS: Tell me briefly about your career Journey so far.
I had a strong inclination towards Indian Armed Forces right from my SSC. So after earning my Bachelors in Engg from Govt College of Engg, Aurangabad headed for my stint as a Short Service Commissioned Officer with Indian Navy for good 7 years. Though I had an option to continue for further 7 yrs only, I decided to opt out as Armed forces do not offer permanent commission to its Ladies officers. Post retirement from forces as Lieutenant Commander I got an opportunity to work with India's largest pvt sector bank - ICICI Bank Ltd. Here I joined Organisational Excellence Group which caters process improvement and business excellence. My seven yrs naval background proved to be a perfect transition possible to play a role of passionate and disciplined Change Agent. At ICICI, my learning wrt Quality world took a sharp hair pin positive turn. It's now been around four and half years with this elite group in the bank.
BSS: Has Six Sigma impacted your career? Have you reaped any benefits from it in your personal life?
Affirmative!! Whilst undergoing my Green Belt training, I got my first hand experience on Six Sigma. Subsequently learnt some higher end tools and later at Benchmark finally got certified as Black Belt. Specially the engagement with Benchmark triggered this fire further and enabled me continuously to seek more know-how of Six Sigma. As a SS professional, my tendency to kick start any given task has completely changed. The orientation to solve any problem by data gathering, analysing critical factors, solutioning, sustaining the gains has all changed now. In my personal life too for any critical decision making I prefer playing with data first rather than just gut feel evaluation (This may sound like a Tata tele sky shop advt) but its absolutely true aur sach ke siva kuch bhee nahee !
BSS: How precisely do you apply Six Sigma skills in your current job at ICICI Bank?
At ICICI, apart from creating Six Sigma Change agents in the Business Groups and following strictly DMAIC approach, I use SS tools wherever deemed fit not necessarily only when following DMAIC. For eg, tools like MSA, FMEA, Correlation and regression analysis, performing hypothesis tests and many more can be used in isolation of its DMAIC structure. Specially this becomes easier when there is no dearth of data (referring Call Centre / Business Intelligence Unit like set up). My Six Sigma skills also came handy when I needed to share the opportunities for improvement to the Business Head in a Business Group I got associated with.
BSS: Which Six Sigma methodologies do you use most often?
I personally emphasis on Define phase which sets the ball rolling throughout its SS journey. To my experience, the project charter developed becomes the bible especially when the project has multiple stakeholders and is cross functional in nature. I further recommend and endorse MSA before beginning analysis of a problem. To many project team members it comes as a pleasant surprise that either their problems get resolved at such an initial stage itself or terminates as completely different problem than what they initially thought was. FMEA then comes next in the order as my yet another favourite tool. This tool has its own power to drive home the point unanimously (splly in a larger group of people having multi-dimensional roles). And yes, at the end of arriving at the solutions, I look forward for Control phase as out here applying Pokayoke becomes not only creative but also a great fun. (I can read your mind now...are you thinking of me as Tata Tele Services agent again???)
Did you pursue your Six Sigma Certification from BSS? How conducive was the experience?
BSS: Yes, I did my SS Black Belt certification from Benchmark which immensely facilitated my professional mind set wrt process improvement. As far as my experience goes at benchmark class room session, it gave all the opportunities to cross pollinate and brainstorm with co-participants and conclusive responses provided by you (VK) at all appropriate stages. I admire your facilitation skills. I have attended other training programs in the past but never like this before!! The simplified explanation of concepts like α and β risk was amazing!...I would say that it was not only the 6 days class room session that I had but also subsequent engagement through your Fraternity is equally enriching and edifying. I would go on one step further in saying that this forum has not only provided a platform to debate and discuss concepts, share the work experience with co members but also given some wonderful friends for life. Whispering....Hey! are you guys there listening to this piece of admiration??? .
BSS: What sort of SS Projects have you working on in past? Kindly mention some.
A variety of projects I have done including metrices like enhancing customer satisfaction index, employee engagement, Cost reduction by bringing in process and operation efficiency and revenue enhancement by improving lead closures percentage. I also did a project not following DMAIC approach in toto but helped business to come out with its right dashboard to monitor.
BSS: Do you think anybody if willing, can learn Six Sigma? Or it is only meant for academically brilliant people?
OF COURSE! I hope ‘m loud and clear! Its a scientific approach towards a problem solving. Anyone under the sun who likes to do detailing, question the "AS IS" and loves to change for better can learn and should learn Six Sigma.
BSS: Would you like to give any suggestions to us for improving our program?
Further improvement? Well to respond to this, I need to do DMAIC!! Ha ha ha.....
On a serious note, I think, One whole day may be kept on project simulation covering at least 3-4 projects exercise specially with challenges of real world as this is when participants gather the most confidence in terms of applying the theory learned and get prepared for their launch in SS carrier.
BSS: Would you like to tell us about your future plans? How will your Six Sigma learning benefit you?
Having learnt Quality tools and worked with Defence and Banking industries, would like to definitely contribute more to streamline and improve their processes. Apart from this I would like to explore other industries where experimentation is a must like Food and Beverage. As such ‘m foodie...aam kea aam gudhliyo ke daam.Industry where forecasting is the business like metrological dept. Moreover this would satiate my hunger for doing some more DOE, some more playing around with Predicted R Sq etc concepts. But yes towards my greying age, would like to switch over to facilitating young minds and sensitizing them on Six Sigma's wonder world.
BSS: Would you like to give any message for readers.
If you have gone through this whole interview word by word, I don't have any doubts on your patience. So if you amalgamate this fine capability of yours along with your commitment to improve things, witnessing 3.4 defects per million opportunities yourself would not be a too tough. Have faith and confidence in your decisions made through tools and structured approach, gains are rest assured. Always remember - Direction is more important than distance. My best wishes to all of you.
FOLLOW UP INTERVIEW WITH SHALINI