The Year That Was 2021

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Industry Leaders

The Year That Was 2021

As we step into another year, that we hope will come with incredible opportunities, let’s pause for a moment and dive into the year 2021. Last year proved to be a stepping stone for supply chain fraternity across the country where many innovative start-ups took the onus upon themselves to chart the future of supply chain, and the established ones brought in their technological prowess to enhance supply chain visibility & transparency. During the last year, team Celerity also got heavyweights to participate in some pathbreaking webinars sharing intriguing insights on the future of supply chain. Our 2021 issues were laced with treasure trove of insights for the industry. Here’s recapturing some of them for our readers…

Sachin Gupta, Country Planning Manager, Shell

Supply chain is nothing but applying Common Sense to improve efficiency. While sales and marketing functions of organization drive top line, supply chain and operations drive bottom line of the balance sheet. More and more companies are realizing the importance of having an efficient and agile supply chain to increase profitability. Beyond this, having a reliable supply chain is becoming a key competitive advantage to increase market share. Customers and consumers are expecting faster and convenient ways of getting the products. Supply chain professionals must focus on developing new age skills. Concepts like AI, ML, IOT and Big Data are becoming foundational to grow in a modern age supply chain. Other than this, SCM professionals must acquire Project management, Financial Management and Accounting knowledge skillsets. Supply chain professionals need to understand modern ways of forecasting and planning. Data analytics is going to play a major role there. Concept of descriptive analytics is now moving towards prescriptive analytics. If these are merged with supply chain fundamentals, it can be a super-combo to have.

Mr. Shailesh Haribhakti, Board Chairman, Board Director, Chartered and Cost Accountant, an Internal Auditor, and a Certified Financial Planner & Fraud Examiner

I think we need to get to the start-ups who can suddenly become unicorns. We have already seen a few decacorns who are emerging out of India, ex. Paytm, Zomato or Swiggy. We are seeing multibillion dollar enterprises emerging and the idea that good governance can risk-manage the flight path is becoming very much embedded in the mind frames of these start-ups and the people who have this driving exponential mindset taking the moonshots which they believe in, having this massively transformative purpose, looking at technology as an enabler, they are the ones who are truly making artificial intelligence their partners. They are talking and thinking about it as augmented intelligence and are not fearing it. They are embracing the change. That is what is leading to this exponential change in India. The number of digital transactions we are doing, the extent to which we are now able to deal with things at a molecular and cellular level, is astonishing.

Dr. P. Siva Kumar (SK), Medical Technology Advisor, ESI MedTek Solutions

70% of the population live in rural areas while 70% of the healthcare infrastructure is in the urban area. This statement is a testimony to the clear divide that persists and at the same time presents a unique opportunity for the government to expand medical facilities in the rural regions. India produces 30,000 to 40,000 doctors every year. Most of them desire to be in the urban areas for obvious reasons. Ayushman Bharat is one of the most promising schemes of the government to make healthcare facilities accessible for all. To make the Ayushman Bharat successful necessary infrastructure should be established in rural areas. Digital technologies should be employed to ensure that healthcare is accessible to a large section of the people. With the country now widely covered with mobile network, accessibility could be easily addressed using appropriate solutions. AI enabled solutions will play a major role in making this initiative a success. As an example, diagnostic solutions are undergoing revolutionary changes that would enable healthcare providers to provide solutions without the patient having to visit the clinic or healthcare center. Similarly, significant amount of integration is happening between various sectors of healthcare to ensure that healthcare is accessible to larger percentage of people living in remote areas. Covid-19 pandemic has already accelerated remote care where in medical professionals and the patients have utilized teleconsultation to their advantage.

Bipin Odhekar, Head – Sustainability & Operations Excellence, Marico Ltd.

India Inc. has a promising future when it comes to striking an optimal balance between industrialization and protection of natural, ecological, and social assets. All stakeholders including governments, businesses, investors, social enterprises, academia, and consumers have critical and complementary roles to shape a greener, safer, and more sustainable India in the times to come. Given the population rise and other global megatrends impacting India, there is a distinct opportunity for us to epitomize sustainable development on a global canvas. Education, tech-enabled disruptions, impact leadership from corporates and favourable policy mechanisms can fulfil our vision of replenishing natural resources and restoring ecological sanity.

Nikunj Desai, Head Global Supply Chain, ACG Group

The way India is developing as a manufacturing Hub and being looked at as an alternate destination to our large neighbour, supply chain function has and will have to play a paramount role to make this happen. Importance of having a resilient and reliable supply chain function has been realized across the industries and governments across the globe. Thanks to PLI schemes being launched by the government and realization of the geographical de-risking aspects by all global players, as India leverages this scenario to leap ahead into playing a larger role and becoming a global manufacturing hub, then definitely that dream will be built only with the supply chain function doing the heavy lifting. I always tell our team that SCM is like what an Army is to its nation. Some day you fight in desert, some days on land and some days in snow. We must be always on our toes like an Army is always ready to protect our nation’s turf and fight the new battles/challenges which we encounter. In general, I have a belief that if my team is successful, then I will be successful. My job is to make my people successful and create environment where they can thrive. In following this belief, I am sure they too feel motivated enough when they see this happen.

Aparna Sharma, Sr. HR Professional - HR Advisor, Board Member, Coach, Counsellor, Trainer, Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker

Stereotyping is a real phenomenon not only at workplaces but at our homes too. Women’s share in the engineering space has gone up to around 40% at the educational level. This suggests that more and more women are getting into engineering which otherwise was always seen as male territory. However, this does not reflect in the actual employment numbers in terms of how many women are employed in organizations. In fact, women in the technical field especially conventional engineering are still in abysmal numbers. If we look at the field of technology, the percentage of female employees in Software Testing is higher than in Core Programming as if relegating female employees to “less critical, lower complexity” jobs. 

There are certain qualities which can be attributed to male gender and certain characteristics to female gender. However if you look at a corporate leader of any organization, any leader must focus on things which are gender agnostic. They must be more empathetic at certain times, very assertive and aggressive at other times. To succeed, women try to ape men, but the beauty lies in collaborating and co-existing in the ecosystem by complementing each other and not giving into stereotypes that the society has put in. I do not think females need to become alpha males or vice versa. Each gender has their own strengths and that is what everyone needs to bring to the organization. In short, stereotyping exists because of societal conditioning.

Shital Kakkar Mehra, Executive Presence, CEO Coach, Board Advisor, Social Entrepreneur

If you hire 50% women at the entry level and only 11% at the leadership level, that means there is a leakage in the pipeline. Now the leakage clearly is for every organization to address and examine What, When and Where it happened. Mostly it happens at the mid-level. Research has shown that if you can support women at mid-level, then you can have adequate women representatives in the leadership position. Of course, having better policies, maternity leave, paid & unpaid leaves, paternity leave, are always a great addon. I believe senior leadership should lead by example and harp on the importance between work-life balance. If that happens, women also feel secured and are convinced that it is right to take the time out. Otherwise, many women feel that it can impact their career development or their future in the organization. When I coach women at any level, I always tell them that you are the CEO of your own personal brand.

Companies spend billions of dollars every year in promoting their brand, so nothing should stop women from promoting their achievements and their credentials. Firstly, brands need investments, so please invest in yourself and do it guilt-free. Secondly, brands need promotion, so do not be guilty promoting yourself. It is important to create a strong internal and external network because brands need visibility. Become the CEO of your own brand and take it UP!

Sandeep Raut, Digital Transformation, Analytics Big Data, Mobility & IoT Evangelist

It is easy to get wrapped by technology but without considering human element the transformation process will fail. CEOs are taking a digital-first approach to change the business. Digital transformation cannot thrive unless your organization has a culture that is willing and able to embrace it. Organization wide adoption requires teams to change their attitude, automate the processes, shift their thinking, and reject the status quo. People are engaged by people. Productive and satisfied employees who like their work, go out of the way to satisfy customers. Digitization is by no means de-humanization. It is 20% technology but 80% human touch. Without a strong involvement and without taking the human element into account on all levels, digital projects are going to fail. The best results will occur when technology and humans collaborate to create an entire ecosystem, which technology alone cannot achieve.

Nikhil Puri, Global SCM Head – Communication Cabling Solution, Sterlite Technologies Ltd. (STL)

Today’s globalized supply chain network has been optimized to identify minimum lead times at the lowest possible price. We want electronics ‘Made in China’, so we can buy them cheap. However, rapid political developments, a shift towards consumers buying niche products and now, this pandemic has revealed the weakness that lies at the heart of this model of manufacturing. The hidden costs of single-source dependencies and poor flexibility in adapting to real-time shocks have been laid bare. Today, we will tolerate higher prices for certain goods, if it means we get them faster and more in line with our aspirations. As a result, the change that had already begun, towards more flexibility and multi-level sourcing, will accelerate tremendously. Over the next years, we can expect to see a broad overhaul of our supply chain infrastructure.

Logistics hubs will re-emerge at the regional level. To eliminate single-source dependencies, and to establish a flexible and adaptable supply chain, sub-system suppliers and component suppliers will source, assemble, and deliver from their own backyards. The supply chain has become a main protagonist everywhere, it has moved from playing a “behind the scenes” organizational role to being a prime driver of the company business. As volumes become more variable, supply chains must become more adaptive, especially if, as forecasts suggest, large suppliers and logistics operators in the supply chain industry must prepare for major catastrophic events such as weather events (fires, flood, tsunami), lethal pandemic outbreaks, strikes, social unrest and associated disruptions.

Aniruddha Banerjee, Sr. Vice President – Supply Chain, Spencer’s Retail Ltd. & Nature’s Basket Ltd.

The unorganized retail sector in India has a huge untapped potential for adopting digital mode of payments as 63% of the retailers are interested in using digital payments like mobile and card payments. Companies should delve into ways to interact and deliver directly to consumers. We need to focus on Omnichannel and flexible online delivery models. Also, the focus should be on investing more towards infrastructure development for strong last mile delivery setup and on personalization of shipments.

FMCG Players need to build infrastructure that allows customization of orders within the supply chain, without adding any cost. Smart supply chain control tower is the need of hour, which can anticipate potential problems in an automated and optimized fashion at a regional and global level. More and more companies are trying to transform their traditional supply chain models to digital supply networks (DSN). It is seen as a long-term solution to build a more resilient supply chain that can withstand disruptions like COVID-19.

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