KTH Royal Institute of Technology: Student’s training brings sustainability to family business

Senthil Kumar came to Sweden in 2018 with her husband who got a job at Scania. With her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, she had worked for a number of years in her father’s company in Chennai, which manufactures automobile electrical systems.

She came to Sweden to look into expanding the family business. First she investigated the conditions for the company in Sweden, and then she applied for the master’s programme at KTH.

“I needed to build up my knowledge in sustainable production development,” Senthil Kumar says.

Smaller companies in India are investing in sustainability
In India, there is not much focus on sustainability in larger production companies, she says. But, customers and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding greater transparency when it comes to the environment and social issues.

Sustainable Production Development MSc
The master’s programme in Sustainable Production Development focuses on the sustainable design and development of production systems.

MSc Sustainable Production Development
“Smaller companies are investing in developing in this area. So I thought that the knowledge I get through studying here might help our business.”

The last course before the summer master’s programme, Sustainable Production Development, was about sustainable development in new industrial companies—how sustainability and standardization can be implemented in small and medium-sized companies right from the start. That—and how digitalisation can be used to support sustainable development—is something Senthil Kumar has taken with her as she advises her father.

“I tell him how he can implement this knowledge in the business.”

KTH Södertälje’s strong industrial connection is a plus
She says that the fact that the education at KTH in Södertälje has such a strong connection between academia and industry is positive. Students in the programme have had the opportunity to meet with several companies—not only giants such as Scania and Astra Zeneca, but also smaller enterprises.

“It is particularly interesting to hear how they use lean production to support sustainable development in production. In India, the focus is on the lean system as such,” she says.

Senthil Kumar says she sees a big difference in studying in Sweden compared to India.

“In India, there is a great distance between students and teachers. That is not the case here. You can talk openly with teachers about what you need and then they focus on it. It facilitates learning.”

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