On the Cusp of Transformation

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On the Cusp of Transformation

“Managing supply chain is not complex. You just have to wear a broader cap, looking at complete business perspective,” asserts Rohit Batra, Vice President – Supply Chain (India Sub continent), Ferrero India. Giving a totally new dimension to supply chain, he shares his extremely valuable insights for new age supply chain professionals through this interview. Excerpts…

How complex is the industry you operate in?

Rohit Batra, VP,  Ferrero India

Food industry is a very competitive and sensitive Industry. Major challenge, which the Industry faces, is the ever-increasing awareness of the consumer. Today, the key to the success lies in SPEED, INNOVATION and CUSTOMER SERVICE.

What significant changes you have witnessed in supply chain landscape in the last decade or so?

Supply chain has evolved over the past decade. I have seen supply chain taking shape from just being ‘Logistics, A support function’. Today supply chain is an integral part of the business, equally responsible for the top line and bottom line. Supply chain is an end-to-end supply solution for the organization. Supply chain is transforming to a value chain and moving from just being a cost centre to a strategic function focusing on quality and quantity, fighting cost, adding value and improving customer service.

What complexities arise when it comes to managing supply chain?

Managing supply chain is not complex. You just have to wear a broader cap, looking at complete business perspective. It becomes easier when you understand the other side closely, i.e., sales, customer and cost. The difficult part of supply chain management is balance between adequacy and efficiency, managing sales forecast vs service level.

Kindly highlight one of the most challenging projects managed by you on the job?

For me, rationalization of SKUs between multiple manufacturing plants and markets was one of the most challenging projects managed by team and me.

You have a global presence. How do you perceive Indian market vis-à-vis other countries?

Indian market is getting mature year after year, there is a lot of potential that needs to be harnessed and that is why I say, speed is a key at this stage. Indian market has an edge over other markets from cost standpoint. Due to low input cost, it makes better sense to manufacture same quality at lower cost in India. India can turn out to be a profitable proposition for being a manufacturing/supply hub for cluster of overseas markets.

Share with us the key learnings gained by you in supply chain profession.

Supply chain is a business function and not only a support function. The chain of supply includes sales, marketing, manufacturing, product development, finance, IT and logistics. Supply chain is about agility, adaptation as well as alignment. In simpler terms, it is a Customer Service Department.

What are the key factors that make one the supplier of choice?

Three words that best describe the supplier of choice are Cost, Quality and Speed. A supplier should be able to offer services at the most optimum cost, highest quality and most importantly in the best possible time frame.

What can we look forward to in the coming years as far as streamlining the supply chain is concerned?

India is at a stage of taking next big leap and emerge as a developed nation. The coming years will witness a sea transformation in the way supply chain operates today. We should expect major developments in terms of infrastructure, lean management in supply chain focusing on first time right and complete. Going ahead, supply chain will be taking the shape of an entire product value chain.

What are the qualities that make for an exceptional leader?

  • Persistence – One should never give up. Try, Fail, pick your bag again till you get there
  • An eye for Talent – Great leader should always surround themselves with other great minds. One should have an eye for talent to make a good team
  • Never Satisfied – One should never be satisfied & contented with the achievement. The antidote is to think every evening what can be done better tomorrow.
  • Fearlessness – As Branson said, ‘You don’t learn to walk by falling rules, you learn by doing and by falling over.’
  • Toughness – You have to be clear on what you want and take stand for yourself.
  • Intuitive – As Albert Einstein said, ‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.’

Leaders are more likely to rely on hard evidence and data, logic and rational analysis to support their biggest and most important decisions. However, recent insights and discoveries have given new importance and credibility to the role of intuition in leadership, especially when it comes to decision-making.

What would be your message to new age supply chain professionals?

Supply chain starts from Sales, work hand in hand with Operations, Manufacturing, Finance, and is followed by Procurement, Planning, Distribution and Logistics. Supply chain works when something goes wrong. Most of the time you don’t have a second chance. Don’t be surprised, if people don’t know how you contribute to them. Smile and say, ‘I am Supply Chain, I solve problems which you don’t know you have in a way that you can’t understand.

What’s your mantra for success? Be Optimistic and Trust yourself
Your mentor in life…My father is my Mentor, my Guide and my Role model. I try to follow his steps on path of truthfulness, honesty and humility.
Recent book you have read and how has it helped you in taking decisions at workplace…I am not very regular with reading books. Fortunately, had a chance to read this book, which actually made a big impact on me… The book ‘The Leader who had no Title’ by Robin Sharma is inspiring and I understood why it is important that each of us follow a level of personal leadership regardless of titles or position. What I liked most about the book was that it went past just being a fun story to read, it actually provided actions that each of us can take to increase our ability to lead without a title. By the way, if you do have a title, you should read this too. The first step in being an effective leader is to lead yourself exceptionally well. This book captures what it means to lead yourself exceptionally well.

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