Since childhood I have been fascinated by cars, or in other words have been an auto enthusiast. It is this interest in cars which encouraged me to pursue my graduation in production and industrial engineering. My target was to work in an automobile company where I can live my dream of being surrounded by cars all the time. With this aim, I entered Delhi College of Engineering. Evidently, I felt a disconnect of the curriculum with my narrow-minded goal. My first year went in struggling to correlate things with my goal. I tried my best to leverage my college brand to get an internship in the field of my interest. Finally, I landed an internship at Honda Cars India Ltd.
This experience changed my perspective towards my goal. I realized while I had spent so much time on my obsession over car, I never bothered to go into the depths of processes involved in transforming a lump of steel into the art of perfection. This introduced me to the importance of supply chain in transforming anything from A to B. And I could not have had a better way to learn about this, than an epitome of efficiency-a Japanese Manufacturing Plant. It took me 2 days just to observe conversion of raw material into a fully furnished car. I could only imagine the complexity involved in the entire process. It was the first time I appreciated a Honda or a Toyota as much as I appreciated a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Since my project was based on cycle time reduction of engine assembly process, it was constrained to the internal aspects of supply chain. But through my interaction with the employees I realized no matter the internal efficiency, external logistics are equally important. Post this internship, I started looking at operations from a broader perspective. I started asking who are the producers, consumers, stakeholders involved, the middlemen etc. Thus this experience shifted my focus from Product obsession to thinking about the process.
My second internship, at National Bearing Corporation, helped me get exposure in the external aspects of supply chain. I worked in the tapered roller bearing division. As my project was based on defect analysis for each supplier, I analyzed all the factors involved in ensuring a robust supply chain from procurement end. I performed pareto analysis and 5 why analysis to pin point the suppliers leading to specific defects. While bearing itself is an independent product of National Bearing Corporation, it is ultimately used in an assembly, mostly in cars. Thus, I could visualize the impact of reliable supply network of Bearings’ raw material which ultimately contributed to a reliable car. This holistic picture made me realize supply chain management is as much about deepening perspective as much it is about broadening it.
While these internships provided me a hands-on experience and scope of improvement on already established network, developing a new supply chain network for a nascent product has its own challenges. I realized these challenges while doing my final year project on Feasibility Study of Solar Power Systems in India. As I said earlier, supply chain is all about the transformation of product from A to B; in case of solar power, there is a huge disparity between A which can be equated to solar abundance of country like India and B which reflect the power deficit which exist in most part of the country. Thus excellent supply chain network is equally, if not more, important as the technology in solar power sector. Through this project I computed the input cost for an investor and the output he receives through power produced. The suggestions made by our group ensured a benefit to a potential investor, and thus made us realize the importance of supply chain in bringing a change in a country like India.
While I was preparing for my MBA entrances, I started taking interest in problems that concern India as a nation. The biggest problem I deduced was that of wealth generation for rural farmers. As a nation, we have abundance of fertile land, human resource but still we are lacking somewhere. I realized it was important to analyze why despite producing 18% of worlds food production, 1/3rd of our population goes to sleep without two square meals each day. The key to solving this issue was to ensure a efficient supply chain network for the entire food industry in India. The biggest hindrance is the problem of middlemen and hoarders who are manipulating the market to prevent justice to both producer and consumer of food. Therefore, I really admire the work done by companies like ITC through e-choupal which is using technology to ensure a better income for farmers and better quality for consumers. While big companies are doing their part to ensure a transparent supply network for both the producers and consumers, the scale is not large enough. For a country with half of its population still in producing primary products, the potential and the need for food processing industries is immense. This revolution needs to be come from the bottom, as against being imposed from the top.
Therefore, in future I would like to take initiative for entrepreneurial venture in the domain of food processing industry. So what began with my passion for cars has taken me to a much bigger realization of bringing changing in the country by leveraging a robust, penetrating and efficient supply chain network.