Up, Close and Personal with the Top Supply Chain Leaders 2024

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Industry Leaders

Up, Close and Personal with the Top Supply Chain Leaders 2024

Their journey began in the humble confines of backroom logistics, and over the past three decades, they have not only witnessed but also shaped the evolution of the supply chain landscape in India, elevating it to the boardroom level. From ERP-based technology to seamless digitalization, from traditional godowns to advanced Distribution and Fulfilment Centres, from limited information access to real-time supply chain visibility, and from an operations-focused function to a customer-centric approach, these leaders have positioned India as a formidable player in the global market.

At Celerity Supply Chain Tribe, it was our honour and priviledge to felicitate these exceptional individuals for their unparalleled contributions in making supply chains a seamless and efficient business endeavor.

Here, we present their lighter side, offering our readers insights not only into their business acumen but also into how they balance their personal and professional lives with grace.

What has been your passion project till date? 

Arush Kishore

Arush Kishore, Vice President – Petchem Supply Chain Management group of Reliance Industries Ltd.: By a wide margin, it would be supplying oxygen to the country, aegis Reliance Foundation, we reached from zero to 11% of country's supply in 5 days flat. All teams worked as one 24X7 to achieve this. The best practices/policies devised in procurement, planning, transportation (rail, air, road) and unloading were then rolled out across the country by other contributors.

Dharmesh Srivastava, Vice President – Supply Chain, Agro Tech Foods Ltd.: Creating a superfast supply chain of our ready-to-eat popcorn, ensuring crunchiness and freshness of our world fame Act-II Popcorn to reach consumers within few days of manufacturing.

Sarala Menon

Sarala Menon, Former Executive Vice President – End-to-End Supply Chain, Colgate-Palmolive: The seamless end-to-end supply chain integration for Colgate India and S Asia, the frugal innovations and automations which are being used as a benchmark in the Colgate world , and the stint in Colgate Central Europe West where I was brought in to address significant challenges and we turned it around to become a benchmark in service and costs in Europe.

Udayraj Prabhu, Ex SVP & GM India, Terviva: Building the supply chain of Pongamia for Terviva.

How do you unwind yourself after a tough day @ work? 

Arush Kishore: I am a voracious reader. I read one book a week, 30 pages a day.

Dharmesh Srivastava: I love watching travel related programs, either on YouTube or Discovery Plus Channel.

Sarala Menon: Family, daughters, pet, some TV but minimal

Udayraj Prabhu: Reading – I have a library of about 300+ books, free subscriptions of Big Four Consulting Firms & B-Schools like Kellogs, Harvard & read a lot on LinkedIn too. But my best me-time is mornings – When I go for runs, I don't carry my mobile phone. It is great time for reflection & rejuvenation.

How do you manage the pressures and the challenges that come with the job?

Arush Kishore: I keep my focus on the People, Platform and Process (PPP) equilibrium all the time. Both the external and internal environment demands agility. One of the things that lends to agility is PPP. And each company has to find its own PPP equilibrium.

Dharmesh Srivastava: I practice Meditation and Pranayam that helps in seeing the situation in perspective, without being unnecessarily getting agitated.

Sarala Menon: I thrive on challenges, and I try not to get overwhelmed but introspect first so that I understand what's needed – big picture / what's required to be done, then break it into pieces, prioritize and address. I work very closely with my team so that they are informed and empowered. We discuss and debate to come to the best solutions and work together to get it executed.

Udayraj Prabhu: I like what PayTM founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, once said in an interview – Job will always be difficult, so try to create history. With acceptance comes the willingness to anticipate, manage & enjoy difficulties. Find your purpose. Understand what the greater perspective is - When the ‘Why’ of all impacted stakeholders is understood, it is easier to do the right thing. Don't try to change everything that needs to be changed. Do just one change at a time. Put in your best effort & have the humility that many things will not succeed.

What’s your Success Mantra?

Arush Kishore: Developing people has held the company in good stead. Me and my team’s success has been underpinned by right people. Luck, choice, training and learning teams have helped in papering over dissonance and deliver seamless service.

Dharmesh Srivastava: I try to focus on my circle of influence, rather than on circle of concerns.

Sarala Menon: Tenacity and Energy

Udayraj Prabhu: Put 110% effort in the few things that you want desperately including relationships & don't worry about whether you will be successful.

What’s your Leadership Style?

Arush Kishore: The following words come to mind: Mentoring, Training, Coaching, Democratic, Quick Decision Making.

Dharmesh Srivastava: I try to practice Situational Leadership. As per the Situational Leadership (Hersey-Blanchard) model, you change your style as per the situation.

Sarala Menon: Empowering the team, Collaborative, Clarity on Vision / Mission / Reimagining the Future and Executional Excellence

Udayraj Prabhu: Begin with the end in Mind. Have a vision, redefine it & relentlessly communicate it & show it to everyone as the reason to take actions. Hire the best talent, equip them, let them be heard, trust them & grow them. Be that friend who they can come to without the fear of being judged & shamed.

One tip to Survive & Sustain in the unforeseen situations / your advice to Next Gen Supply Chain professionals…

Arush Kishore: It has to be Continuous Learning as company-career-long termism continuum is under stress.

Dharmesh Srivastava: Supply Chain Managers must train themselves to face every moment the unexpected situations as we are dealing with many uncertainties. Only a peaceful mind can look for a solution. Every problem has an opportunity for improvement. It is very easy to get sucked into Blame Game. Instead of blaming any person for a problem, first diagnose the root cause and create a robust process, infrastructure, trained resources to handle situations for future.

Sarala Menon: We are great at handling ambiguity, so leverage it.

Udayraj Prabhu: I would say – Survive, Sustain & Flourish. Things will fail, so build early warning systems & continuity plans; build for agility so that you can recover fast and do rigorous Root Cause Analysis & Preventive Action Planning. Build a reputation of truth teller even in worst times so that people don't doubt you or second guess you. Build multiple sources of knowing the truth. Things which look random in short-term have amazingly stable long-term trends (Read Sapiens, Homo Duos by Yuval Noah Harari.

A book that has helped you at work.

Arush Kishore: Nudge by R Thaler and C Sunstein, a master class in how to polarize behavior of a large body of people with minimum intervention.

Dharmesh Srivastava: 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen Covey, THE GOAL by Eliyahu Goldratt

Sarala Menon: I read the Economist and I find that very useful. Why Smart Executives Fail.

Udayraj Prabhu: 

  • The Goal and all the subsequent books – Eliyahoo Goldratt
  • Relationship Management – Mouton Blake
  • First, Break All the Rules & Strengthsfinder 2.0 – Marcus Buckingham (Gallup)
  • Conscious Leadership – Jim Dethmer

A book that you can read any number of times or a movie you can watch any time.

Arush Kishore: Yugantar by Shivaji Samant / Gandhi movie

Dharmesh Srivastava: I can watch my favourite Travel and Nature programs on TV and YouTube for endless hours!

Sarala Menon: Godfather

Udayraj Prabhu: 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen Covey

What is the best and worst advice you have received?

Arush Kishore: It’s the same – ‘Go Have Fun’.

Dharmesh Srivastava: I was lucky to have worked with some great managers in my current role in ATFL and previous roles at Gillette and P&G. I can’t point one advice but there are many such advises, which have shaped me in whatever I am today.

Sarala Menon: Best advice: Do not externalise issues, take accountability and try to resolve issues. And Worst advice: Oh, it's so hard.

Udayraj Prabhu: Worst advice: When I started my first job, I was told you should drink, else success in corporate career is difficult. I did not succumb to that and realized that I never felt the pressure as I was absolutely clear in my mind that I am willing to stand up for my belief (whether wrong or right). You don't need to compromise on your beliefs or values. And  Best advice: Don't take yourself too seriously: Learn to laugh at yourself, accept that you are not perfect, don't judge others & forgive easily.

What’s the best way to build a high-performing team?

Arush Kishore: By keeping a focus on agility, learning and trust.

Dharmesh Srivastava: Trust your people, train them, take care of them. It takes hard work to build and nurture a high performing team, it takes years and years to create top performers. There are ups and downs in the career of every professional. If you support your team in the thick of the problems – they learn and become better with every passing day.

Sarala Menon: Clarity of vision, debate and discussion, empower, help when needed and get out of the way.

Udayraj Prabhu: 

  • Absolute clarity & joint ownership on team goals
  • Value Trustworthiness over competence
  • Psychological safety to do difficult dialogues
  • The special traits of your tribe.

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