Ops Diaries 2017: Day 6: “Demystifying Operations”: Ms. Nivedita Konduri, Manager at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

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On 11th November 2017, a notable alum of TAPMI, Ms. Nivedita Konduri started the lecture by discussing the elective subjects with students. She explained how certain subjects are intellectually stimulating and how students can apply the concepts in their workplace. She then spoke about her summer internship experience and how it helped her to broaden her horizons.

Explaining the concept of Procure-to-Pay, she said it is an essential part of any business in today’s world. The P2P process includes obtaining raw materials to provide products or services to the customer. She discussed the SAP and ERP models of the procurement process. Moving on to discuss the various ways of data interpretation, Ms. Konduri explained the importance of case studies, spreadsheets, and presentation. Data analysis is one of the most important aspects of any job. It includes data cleaning, crystal clear calculations and categorizing data according to value and volume.

She also advised students about the importance of having certain certifications such as SCPro Certification, Certified Supply Chain Professional and Certified in Production and Inventory Management. She also emphasized on participating in competitions which helps in the practical understanding of the subjects and also, network with students from other business schools.

Discussing Supply Chain Management, she elaborated on the processes of sourcing, planning, logistics, and strategy. She gave the students a glimpse into the role of an Operations Manager in manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. In the manufacturing sector, the role would typically include production planning, capacity planning, inventory management and manufacturing strategy; whereas in the non-manufacturing sector, the roles would include functional and management consulting improvement projects, quality control, and operations excellence.

Coming to the end of her lecture, she answered queries from the students. It was a very enriching and fulfilling session.

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CXO Leadership Series 2017: “Building a business in emerging markets- A practitioner’s view”- Mr. Mithun Kamath, Group CEO – Arc Skills

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On 11th November 2017, Mr. Mithun Kamath interacted with the student fraternity of T. A. Pai Management Institute on building business in emerging countries. Citing examples from his diverse experience of working in Africa, Latin America and Asia, he informed the students that the economic needle is moving towards Asia and Africa. He cited that the driving factors for this change were Scale, Socio-Economic conditions, Cultural conditioning, Languages and Strategy vs Opportunity.

He said that the disparity in population makes India a massive market which operates under a single currency. On the other hand, he mentioned that Africa has markets operating in 54 countries each with different territories and currencies. Mr. Kamath stated that in the retail sector, the profile of distributors, the number of employees, the transportation, etc. are deeply influenced with changes in the socio-economic conditions. He disclosed that in Latin America and Africa, retailers buy stocks for extremely short duration and usually stock up multiple times a day. The sub-distributors in S. Africa were not exclusive to a particular retailer unlike those in India. The Indian distribution and merchandising strategies he concluded, would, therefore, fail if applied in Africa and ergo these emerging countries.

Mr. Kamath went on to mention that 70% of adults in Latin America lack high school graduation leading to a huge talent crunch. He disclosed that the cost of living in Africa is 2.5 times more expensive than India because the majority of commodities are imported. He remarked that in Africa there are two types of companies – the ones who cater to the top of the pyramid and others who cater to the bottom of the pyramid, unlike India that has a middle-class market. Therefore, he enunciated, a completely different planning and strategizing was required to sustain in the emerging countries.

Mr. Kamath emphasized the importance of understanding the culture of the country you are working in. He reminded that it is important to understand the local languages and accept their beliefs which may be very different from ours. Also, he said that we as Indians try to utilize incremental methods of getting the job done as quickly as possible. “We don’t strategize but implement the assigned work. We seek direction. While this trait helps us earn our bread and butter, it is also the reason why we are second to major world competitors”, he explained.

He went on to say that we needed to realize our potential and enter the strategy phase of projects. “We have some major strengths like adaptability and hard work which we should use to improve our impact globally. We should stop following paths of least resistance and start building brands instead of providing labor”, he reminded.

Mr. Kamath emphasized the need for collaboration with locals of a country as a very crucial aspect of managing a business in various countries. According to him, International Business requires a good knowledge of acquisitions and joint ventures which is very different from the usual deal-making. Any strategy that we make, he pointed, has a very small shelf life in the global dynamic world.

Mr. Kamath concluded the discussion by emphasizing the need to be dynamic, understanding risks and failure and thinking out of the box. These, he summarized, would help us stay relevant.

Leadership Lecture Series: Mr. Ramakrishna Vyamajala, Director-Human Resources, IDFC Bank

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On 5th November 2017, Mr. Ramakrishna Vyamajala talked to the students of TAPMI about Employee Stock Options. He started the lecture by asking the students having a prior work experience if any of their previous employers offered them any stock options. He explained that the Employee Stock Options or ESOPs as they are called, are long term incentives that the company gives to its employees whom they want to retain for a long period of time.

He talked about the different types of ESOPs like Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs), Restricted Stock Units and Stock Appreciation Rights. Between the time when employees get the stocks and the time they finally sell them, there are four stages involved. The first stage is Granting, where the company issues the grant letter to the employee. The next stage is Vesting, when the employee becomes eligible to buy those shares. And then comes Exercising, when employees exercise their right to buy the stocks. Then is the stage where the employees finally sell their stocks and get the money. The ESOPs are good for both the employee as well as the employers as it attracts employees, motivates them, enhances their job satisfaction and aligns the employees with the company’s goals.

He gave the examples of companies like HDFC, Infosys and Citrus Pay where the employees made a lot of money by selling their stocks. But there is a chance that the stock prices go down after the employees receive the ESOPs and to avoid the problem, the best times to exercise ESOPs are when an increase in stock prices is expected, prior to expansion plan or listing of shares or prior to any merger or corporate events.

He ended the session with some recommendations to the students on when to accept ESOPs from their employers. He asked to students to choose the right instruments basis the life cycle of the organization and if there is too much uncertainty involved, it is better to go with the cash component instead of stock options.

Ops Diaries 2017: Day 2: “Modern Day Operations and Supply Chain Management”- Mr. Arun Bhat, Assistant Manager, Coffee Day Beverages

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On 28th October 2017, Mr. Arun Bhat addressed the student fraternity at TAPMI regarding the changing trends in operations. Mentioning about the industrial revolution characterized by mechanization which took place in the 18th century, he said that we have come a long way with Internet of Things marking the trend of the industries today. Industry 4.0 concentrates on providing critical data about the operation chain even before any breakage in linkage takes place. Timely Data Analysis informs us regarding the bottle neck of the process. Talking about his organization, he said that with a market share of 80% Coffee Day vending is a good example of Business to Business operations.

Explaining about the modern-day supply chain management, he said that requirement (Indent) information goes to the procurement team and eventually reaches the Main Warehouses and Branch Stores. The technicians at the stores transfer the data to Rework Centers and the extracted information is passed on to the Data Entry operators. These operators in turn send the extracted useful information back to the requirement teams.

Citing an example he said, that the data on workforce planning is procured from the data centers which helps recruiters in understanding the prospective candidates before hiring them. The data also helps isolate non-productive machinery and this information ensures improvement in the supply chain. He also gave illustrative  insights on the Bullwhip effect and how  it affects the whole supply chain. To reduce the inefficiencies in the supply chain, preventive maintenance is performed in fixed intervals whereas intuitive measures are taken based on IoT feedback. Both aim at preventing breakdowns and scheduling timely maintenance.

The enriching session ended with Mr. Bhat engaging the audience in an interesting Q&A session which facilitated a healthy flow of ideas.

OPS DIARIES: DAY 2: Mr. Karthik Koppula, Assistant Manager at Sequel International Logistics

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On 28th October 2017, in a highly interactive discussion by Mr Karthik Koppula, a TAPMI alumnus himself (Batch 2014-2016), covered major aspects of the multidisciplinary field of Operations Management. Students were given an overview of the various operations functions such as planning, organizing and supervising in the contexts of production, manufacturing or the provision of services.

He elaborated on these functions by giving examples from his own experience as Assistant Manager at Sequel International Logistics, which focusses on the delivery of high monetary value consignments such as jewellery, among others.

He detailed the challenges involved with handling the logistics of the same such as security, damage, stringent regulations, on-time delivery, cost and manpower.

He also illustrated the operations concepts of bottleneck, Hub and Spoke Model, Travelling Salesman Problem, Milk run concept etc by citing examples that the students could relate with.

Further, he elaborated on what his typical work day looks like, with wide-ranging activities such as Remote Operations Management, HR activities, Financing activities, Cost, Customer Relationship Management and coordination between all the divisions.

The impact of GST on the logistics sector was also examined.  “For the logistics sector, GST is the next big thing”, he opined, stating that the sector stood to gain the most from GST as it would reduce costs.

Mr Karthik also reminisced about his days at TAPMI, as a member of the “Logistics Committee”, which taught him humility as well as people management skills. He believes that the experiences that he gained from TAPMI have placed him in good stead in his career.

Finally, he gave the students tips on the placement process for Operations Management specific roles.

CXO Leadership Series, 2017- Mr. Gowri Shenbagaraman, AGM-HR, Ashok Leyland

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Mr. Gowri Shenbagaraman started the conversation by giving a brief introduction about himself. He quipped that students today are smart when it comes to knowledge about HR. He informed that he would be talking about HR from his perspective and whatever he learned when he was a student at the T. A. Pai Management Institute. Mr. Shenbagaraman then went on to explain that the best way for people to take HR seriously is for us to gain respect. He quoted that, “Respect needs to be earned and that can be done by acquiring new skills”. He placed a lot of emphasis on the fact that HR’s should have the traits to have mature conversations as well the zeal to learn something new during their career.

Mr. Shenbagaraman explained that the first thing one needs to understand in HR is that there is no correct solution. With an example, he explained how every problem can have more than one approach, and no approach can be called better than the other. On the topics of Integrity and Credibility, he mentioned that there are times when there would be a conflict between the heart and the mind and during those moments he quoted, “Go with what your heart says.” He then went on to mention that an HR is an ambassador of his company and whatever values an HR carries is what is assumed to be carried by the company.

While speaking about his alma mater Mr. Shenbagaraman mentioned that what he remembered most vividly was how TAPMI was value driven institute and that was the most important thing for him. He encouraged the students to not be afraid of getting their hands dirty. The only way to learn he mentioned was to start from the basics and then learn our way upwards. He warned students about getting into a comfort zone, as he felt that what we do in the first 10 years of our career is what would determine our future. He informed students that knowledge can come from anywhere and one should always be willing to learn to move ahead. Mr. Shenbagaraman ended the discussion by mentioning his favorite quote, “What you know is as much as the sand that you can hold in your hand.”

“Current Trends in IT Industry”- Mr Sumeet Minocha, Integrated Services Leader, India BU, Wipro Limited

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On 25th September, in an interactive and insightful session with students, Mr Sumeet Minocha talked about the new trends that are shaping the IT industry today. Technologies like Machine learning, Artificial intelligence are completely reshaping the business landscape.  Adding to this, a concept like SMAC, the synergy of Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud is driving business innovation and helping organizations improve their operations and target customers more effectively. Today every company is coming up with its own digital strategy. Digital is fundamentally shifting the competitive landscape in many industries and sectors. Companies now need to take critical decisions on how to address digitization. The concept of Digital is all about removing redundancy so that when a company applies SMAC, it is able to achieve the most optimised process. He also spoke about the situation when an organisation struggles from a linear growth stack. In this situation, a company needs to focus on non-linear growth and this is where IT companies are focusing and turning their attention to.

Further, Mr Sumeet spoke about the differences between an IT service company and a product company. Unlike an IT service company, a product company focuses just on the innovation of a product that it deals with, and tries to anticipate the future of the same. However, with the passage of time the space between the IT product and IT Service Company is collapsing. Also, gaining momentum in the IT industry is the concept of Solution Architect which is a combination of both Functional and Technical requirements. Therefore, technology is helping organizations to reach to an unlimited audience by increasing the penetration and reach. Social media has turned out to be a mandate for all organisations today. It is the most important area of focus and has become instrumental for businesses in shaping the consumer decisions. The usability of social media has grown exponentially, providing businesses with an immense scope for increasing customer engagement. Another impact of technology is that gradually every routine job that had a step by step fixed procedure is being entirely replaced by automation and in future, only those jobs which require strategic decision-making will require human intervention.

Towards the end of the lecture, he advised students who have an IT background to connect their experience to the big picture. Only then can the students justify the validity of their experience. Students should also ensure that they join a company which provides them with both operational and strategic experience. In this era of internet, there is an information overload around us. Therefore, he advised students to have a learning attitude and to constantly evaluate whether what they know is just information or has been interpreted to knowledge and wisdom.