“David and Goliath” is a lesson of courage, faith and overcoming; Covid-19 gradually is making us realise the “David” within us.  Today without an iota of doubt the managers in supply chain are ensuring that their organizations prove to be David 2.0 and ready for industry 4.0.

With a purpose of “Knowledge Sharing” we the team Cold Storage Today bring to you a series of excerpts from Managers who are the torch bearers of the professional ecosystems, and manoeuvring the entire supply chain in the COVID-19 pandemic.Mr Shom Chatterjee: Head- Procurement and Logistics-ITC is one such people`s manager, Shom prepares for danger and acknowledges opportunity in “Crisis”, seems his style resonates that of JFK.

The excerpts follow:-

  1. What is the new normal for you?
    • Ans:- When you head procurement and logistics for a conglomerate as large as ITC expecting normal is slightly strange, rather it is expected of me and my team to construct “normal” and that’s what we are doing  now as well. The new challenges ranged from availability of resources like packaging material, labour, logistics, to sudden closures of warehouses.For such emergency situations a little preparedness goes a long way; coordination with our supply chain partners provided better visibility in supply and demand.Our 100+ units are served  through a network of 30+ warehouses we ensured essential commodity pipeline is functional thus we were able to stand up to ITC’s tenet of Sab Saath Badhein by putting the nation and its citizen first.
  1. What was your response when lockdown was declared?
    • Ans:- In the 1st phase of lockdown we saw a sudden surge in the demand of our products to the tune of 150%. We carried on large scale operations involving upto 500 labourers and hundreds of trucks. Our judicious planning and co-ordination saved the day. As a team most rewarding was that we fully complied with all precautionary measures from sanitisation, to usage of 3-ply masks and social distancing; thus we won the confidence of both local government and worker groups.
  1. Sourcing is the lifeline for a company—how did you handle it?
    • Ans:- The first signs of COVID-19 in China during January 2020 forced us to wear our thinking cap and we planned our stocks early, this ensured availability of raw material both from domestic and international suppliers. With the enforcement of lockdown we did face challenges in logistics, but our team led it from front: we not only educated our supply chain vendors but also supported them to deliver. Our team liaised with local authorities and supported from transporters to cold storage units for necessary permits. Agility has always been our mantra.
  1. What is the way forward for supply chain post COVID-19?
    • Ans:- I will prefer to close the loop with the 1st question “what is the new normal” and I in sync with the values of my organisation prioritise safety over everything else. I feel we need to ensure absolute safety for our employees, partners and customers and then built around it. Nonetheless procurement and supply chain functions will be critical to identify opportunities and need for change, and facilitate adjustments through suppliers and partners in the chain.

With this I would like to end my conversation with a quote :

‘There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen’ — Vladimir Lenin.

No doubt COVID-19 has been a good learning but one can only keep the event in mind while creating strategies for future.