Requiem for a year gone by


Isn’t it amazing – another new year is upon us? Calendar years have always fascinated me because of how they allow us to punctuate life with our experiences. “1999 was the year I started Fabtech.” “My little girl was born in 2001.”

I love the new year – every single one and with equal enthusiasm. I love the idea of goal setting in the early days of the new year and then working through the rest of the year to achieve them. The last two days of every year though are my ‘cleanse’. When I give myself space and freedom to reflect, clean out the cobwebs and remember the bends in the road behind me. As random as every year is, there is so much to look back on, and I thought this would be a meaningful opportunity to share my reflections with all of you.

2018 is the year I turned 50. I’m older, wiser and decidedly better looking than I was last year. At least that’s what I tell myself. 😉

2018 is the year I started blogging actively. I also took an overnight train ride for the second time in almost 25 years.

2018 is the year I drank endless cups of chai and made more time for my bachpan ke dost at the Karama parking lot in Dubai. I have always considered myself lucky in my friendships and these guys prove me right every day.

For Fabtech, 2018 was a year of wins, big and small. We lost some too. Such is life. To me, the most significant win was the articulation of our Life Engineering philosophy. Every Life Engineer at Fabtech lives out this philosophy through thought and action. We shared our philosophy with the world through our new website, our communication and through our participation in 21 industry events all over the world. We raised the bar on how we as an engineering company choose to identify our place in the life sciences ecosystem. And in doing so, we have inspired many others to articulate their own story.

Fabtech will be 20 years old in 2019. We’re transitioning into adulthood. We’re becoming more independent as an organisation and as a team. Nowhere does this come through more vividly than with our key people taking ownership of their domains within the organisation. We commissioned E&Y to conduct internal audit forensics. As an organisation, we’ve put several systems in place for Fabtech 2.0 – innovation and rapid enhancements will be key drivers as we prepare for the next decade. Our themes are empowerment and big learning with process driving the charge.

We successfully completed and commissioned the prestigious Mechnikov, Nicaragua project that had been languishing through mismanagement by another contractor. We won some major projects with ICMR and DRDO.

Fabtech and Parle coming together under the Pacifab label to manufacture and sell Capsule Fillers has been another win. Kudos to Mahendra Mehta, Ramanathan, Sunil, Mario and Balaji for all their energy along this journey. Hats off to the Vinod and Pradeep Sawant for their passion in developing extraordinary “toys” day after day. We successfully developed a capsule filler to fill pellets and soft gel in hard gel capsules for none other than Dr Reddy’s (via their contract manufacturer, Softsule)

TSA, another Fabtech investee company has also been racing forward towards the INR 500 MN mark with Apurva and Rajiv giving their all to making TSA the definitive name in water systems around the world. They are an awesome duo to work with. We introduced process vessels which met with instant success and an order bank of INR 120 MN, including our own Egyvet Avian Flu vaccine bioreactors.

We also set up the Fablife Trial Centre where our customers can develop, test or even trial their existing and new products with Fabtech’s closed loop granulation line and pre-granulation equipment; and tablet compression unit courtesy, Parle Elizabeth.

We launched the Injectable range of equipment under our Fabfill label. We introduced third-generation cleanroom equipment to the industry including mist showers and Vapour Hydrogen Peroxide pass-through chambers. Biocon and Felix Pharma were added to our reference list for our suite of granulation solutions.

2018 was also the year for much hilarity and amusement caused by fake news. Commissioning a cleanroom for a nuclear medicine project for the Indian government somehow made it seem to some people that we were getting into nuclear arms. Having armed security in war-torn Iraq and politically tumultuous Nigeria somehow translated into ‘Fabtech folk walk around with guns’. We took over the Ranbaxy and Fidson projects midway from a competitor and agreed to honour commitments made to Chinese contractors supplying panels, which became ‘Fabtech imports cheap Chinese panels and passes them off as their own’. The funniest of them all, ‘Fabtech does not have their own manufacturing facility’. We have five at last count, cumulatively over 30,000 sqm in area. Didn’t I say it’s been a wholly entertaining year?

2018 was also a year of much-needed manthan at Fabtech. We encouraged some of our best people to spread their wings and fly off to even better opportunities than we could offer.

2018 was also a year I said goodbye to Iqbal, Miss Marie and Kamal. Iqbal, the colleague with the omnipresent, good-natured smile. Miss Marie, the teacher who shaped my value system. Kamal, a dear, dear friend I lost to cancer, made me even more determined to do all I can to help fight this deadly disease.

2018 gave me more time with my family, with my loved ones, my friends. 2018 taught me the art of stillness. Of living in the moment. Of cherishing every second.

Tomorrow is the first page of a brand new, 365-page book. I plan to write a fabulous one.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse