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Chai time

A tea estate manager is a one-point contact for everyone involved with a tea garden. Staying in the tea garden, he has to look after each and everything taking place there.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2012 09:36 AM IST

The lowdown
A tea estate manager is a one-point contact for everyone involved with a tea garden. Staying in the tea garden, he has to look after each and everything taking place there. With the help of junior assistants and assistant managers, depending on the requirement of the garden, he has to supervise plantation work, from planting to plucking, processing to packing and transport of tea to auction houses. A tea garden manager is a person wholly and solely responsible for running a tea estate. His area of activity encompasses production management, tea husbandry involving plant physiology, entomology, industrial relations, labour management and liaison with various government departments. He even has to oversee purchase of materials, do financial management, cost management, collective bargaining with unions, factory management, etc.

6am: Wake up
9am: Reach office
10am: Check the day’s worklist. Take a round of the garden
11am: Sort out issues of the day
Noon: Meetings with vendors, staff, authorities follow
1.30pm: Lunch
2.30pm: Take a round of the garden, interact with labourers and staff there. Also solve issues related to labour
3pm: Check the processing unit for any flaws
4pm: Prepare next day’s to-do list
5:30pm: Leave for home

The payoff
* Assistant manager: Rs 3.5 lakh a year
* Senior assistant manager: Rs 7 lakh a year
* Deputy manager: R8 lakh to Rs 9 lakh a year
* Manager: Depending on many factors it can be Rs 12 lakh to Rs 15 lakh a year
* GM: Salary depends on skills and experience

* Knowledge of the tea market
* Knowledge of labour laws
* Ability to communicate with labourers and workers
* Have sound leadership qualities
* Presence of mind, quick thinking, courage to face and settle labour disputes
* Fair knowledge of the topography of tea estates

Getting there
One can get into a tea estate after graduation and pick up skills while working in a tea garden. However, these days, a degree in agricultural science or a BSc in botany, food sciences, horticulture or allied fields is preferred. Candidates who have specialised in business management or marketing are recruited for marketing jobs. Then there are many institutes that give training in tea management. There, one can learn about tea production, processing, finance, marketing and sales

Institutes and URLs
* Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat,
* Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bangalore,
* Dipras Institute of Professional Studies, Kolkata,
* Birla Institute of Management and Futuristic Studies, Kolkata,
* Assam Darjeeling Tea Research Centre, Kurseong, Darjeeling

Pros and cons
* A sense of pride when it comes to being associated with a good tea brand
* By the time you become a manager after 16-20 years of experience, you become so used to life in a tea estate that you cannot work in cities
* Looking after workers/labourers in a tea garden is a demanding task and risky at times

A would-be tea estate manager should have love for the outdoors, be comfortable working for long hours and in all kinds of situations Sayed Edward Kabir, assistant professor, department of tea science, University of North Bengal

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