Amritsar: Indian Institute of Management, Amritsar, successfully conducted its fourth annual Operations and Strategy Conclave, Sankshetra’21 on January 9 and January 10, 2021, in VC mode.
Sankshetra’21 – the Operations and Strategy Conclave, witnessed well-known experts from diverse industries across the country having perceptive discussions. The panelists accentuated the need to move from brick and mortar to IT-enabled organizations to ensure the global scalability of supply chains. The veterans from the industry interacted and reflected with the budding managers on the recent trends and developments in the domains of Operations and Strategy.
The first-panel discussion theme corresponding to the Operations domain was the “Reinventing Supply Chains for the Post-Pandemic World.” With countries facing lockdowns, travel restrictions, workforce shortages, halted production, etc., the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed global supply chains’ vulnerabilities. The reinvention of supply chains is necessary to absorb this large-scale disruption caused by the pandemic. The theme focussed on encapsulating this new normal in supply chain design, discussing the strategies to minimize the effects of disruptions and bounce back at the earliest.
The second-panel discussion theme corresponding to the Strategy domain was “Evolving Strategy and Consulting Amidst Changing Socioeconomic Outlook,” which delved into the disruptions caused by the pandemic across industries and how consulting strategies are evolving to accommodate changing business models amidst a Socio-Economic outlook. The COVID-19 outbreak has proven to be a significant blow to the Strategy and Consulting domain as a whole. However, like any other crisis, it could also present an opportunity to formulate new strategies and improvise the existing ones.
The Conclave commenced with Prof. Chetan Chitre, Students’ Affairs Chair, welcoming the esteemed panelists. Prof. Chitre stated that even though the year 2020 disrupted all the economy’s spheres, it also created a lot of new opportunities and brought innovation to the surface. Prof. Chitre emphasized that no business education is complete without industry interaction, and thus, it lies at the crux of bridging the gap between academia and practices. Concluding his address, he said that he expected all the students would make the most out of this opportunity and learn from the industry stalwarts’ first-hand experiences.
Brief on Panel 1: Reinventing Supply Chains for the Post-Pandemic World
Panellists on Day 1
The first panel was ennobled with the presence of Mr. Suresh Chugh (Head – Warehouse & Logistics, Raymond Apparel Limited), Mr. Kunal Gupta (Director Supply Chain, Bateel International), and Mr. Saurabh Lal (Director Supply Chain, India & South Asia, Kellogg Company).
Discussion on Day 1
Introducing the theme of discussion, IIM Amritsar students delivered a presentation on the operations panel topic. Students of the MBA-06 batch, Ms. Abhinaya N. and Mr. Varun Nair, stated how globalization had created new needs and new customers in new locations. With significant changes in the working of supply chains post the pandemic, identifying and acknowledging the vulnerabilities, mapping the entire supply chains, imparting flexibility and adaptability in operations becomes crucial. Building on the theme, they added how enhanced visibility, redefining parameters, Just in Case (in place of Just in Time), and technology for process innovation would help rebuild flexible supply chains.
Mr. Saurabh Lal was the moderator for the first session. He highlighted how the recovery rate could gauge the resilience of supply chains in case of black swan events. Mr. Lal talked about how the business continuity plans (BCPs) earlier used to evolve around warehouses and plants but now, post the pandemic, organizations are planning national level BCPs. It was deemed that there has been a 5-year leap in E-Commerce’s growth plan crediting to the omnichannel approach. Mr. Lal emphasized that with the paradigm change in consumer demand and channel mix, synchronizing the online and offline catalog becomes essential. Concluding the insightful discussion, Mr. Lal added that digitization should empower change management and get embedded in the system instead of being a flash in the pan.
Mr. Suresh Chugh highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic has majorly impacted the retail sector and brick and mortar organizations and severely impacted secondary sales. The changing consumer sentiment, coupled with the shortage of skilled workforce, has affected logistics services, last-mile delivery, and cash flows very severely. Thus, Mr. Chugh accentuated the need for making the right choice of LSPs (Logistics Service Providers) to ensure business continuity. Mr. Chugh viewed the supply chain as a flexible and agile function wherein lesser dependency on the workforce and greater automation would help the businesses recuperate faster. On a concluding note, Mr. Chugh deemed digitization as the way of life going forward.
Mr. Kunal Gupta viewed the supply chain as a strategic function that acts as the industry’s backbone. He added that working from home for supply chain professionals was never heard before and led towards the digitalization of operations. While there are huge challenges from the cross-border perspective, demand planning would still depend on intuition for the short-term and medium-term. He reflected on the necessity of understanding the system’s basics in the growing age of automation and digitization. Summarizing the discussion, Mr. Gupta added that digitalization and visibility through Analytics would drive supply chains in the near future.
Brief on Panel 2: Evolving Strategy and Consulting Amidst Changing Socioeconomic Outlook
Panellists on Day 2
The second panel was graced by the eminent industry stalwarts – Mr. Anindya S Datta (Lead Strategy & Operations, Reliance Jio), Mr. Supriyo Sinha (National Head, Strategy & New Initiatives, Axis Bank), Mr. Biswajit Bhattacharya (Partner and Automotive Industry Leader, IBM India Pvt. Ltd.), Mr. Aditya Malik (Director, Strategy&, Part of the PwC Network) and Mr. Navoch Mohanayak (Futurist and Strategy, Consulting Practice Leader, Frost, and Sullivan).
Discussion on Day 2
Introducing the theme of discussion, IIM Amritsar students delivered a presentation on the strategy panel topic. Students of the MBA-06 batch, Mr. Ankit Goyal and Mr. Amit Chandekar, stated how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous changes in the process flows with the construction industry, trade, and hospitality industry facing the biggest brunt. Building on the theme, they added that ensuring the safety of the workforce, use of the segmented approach for customer segmentation, enhanced technical architecture, keeping human needs at the heart of choices, and raising global-local dexterity while hedging bets is what would pave the way ahead for the world of strategy and consulting.
Mr. Navoch Mohanayak was the moderator for the second session. He structured the discussion around how the pandemic has intensified the change in perspective towards strategy and consulting, change in the pace of execution, business plan formulation, planning for uncertainty in the face of unforeseen risks, and emerging consumer trends. Concluding the rich exchange of thoughts, Mr. Mohanayak added how the perception of strategy as a thing of the board room has changed drastically and how consulting leads to USP creation in the face of unpredictability.
Mr. Anindya S Datta highlighted the importance of having a robust all-weather portfolio together with 360-degree risk management in the face of uncertainties. He added how the consultants are now being leveraged to a great extent in idea and capability building domains.
On a concluding note, Mr. Datta emphasized how big business ideas are moving from resource-driven to a consultant-driven approach and how the digitization of customer journey has helped pave the way to understand customer behavior better.
Mr. Supriyo Sinha enunciated that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people look at risk and failure, which has brought in more tolerance towards failure. Corporations are now looking into greater details, running multiple scenarios, and increasing the tolerance for failure to build robust systems for tackling unforeseen circumstances. Mr. Sinha concluded with the idea that the consumers have significantly rediscovered themselves during the course of the pandemic, and the corporations thus need to change rapidly
themselves to match up to them.
Mr. Biswajit Bhattacharya started with the thought that technology has taken a leap in consulting and led to digital consulting emergence. He indicated that strategy is a set of advice to an organization regarding high-level decision points guiding the organizations towards taking particular steps in a particular direction. Mr. Bhattacharya concluded, stating that the need for strategy consulting won’t change. However, there might be a change in terms of the way we move ahead. To cater to the uncertain times, the strategy needs to be more dynamic, i.e., to revisit the strategy from time to time.
Mr. Aditya Malik put forth a thought-provoking idea of how modularity, quick implementation, shorter iterations, and agile testing result from uncertainty in pandemic times. The pace of adoption has changed substantially both externally from the consumer perspective and internally from the employee perspective. Mr. Malik added that openness towards hiring consultants was initially not there. He concluded with the idea that as the economy is coming out of the pandemic, there seems to be a renewed and heightened appetite for consultants.
The students of IIM Amritsar showed great enthusiasm during the panel discussion. The discussions were made highly interactive through a healthy Q&A session between the panellists and students. The Conclave successfully concluded on a high note. The recorded videos of the event are available on the official channel of IIM Amritsar and can be watched at any time.