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aim10x, Podcast

A CSCO’s Take on Leadership, Creating Business Value, and Driving Purpose With Vikram Agarwal

creating business value
Published: Reading time: 3 min
Caleb Masters Podcast Producer at o9 Solutions, Inc.
Caleb MastersPodcast Producer at o9 Solutions, Inc.
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Former Avon CSCO Vikram Agarwal shares his insights on leadership, creating business value, and driving purpose.

In this episode of Masters of Digital Transformation, Tony Saldanha hosts Vikram Agarwal, former Avon CSCO with over 32 years of international experience in FTSE 100 companies. Vikram shares his learnings in driving growth and giving businesses a competitive edge through purpose-driven supply chains and digital transformations. Besides, he talks about managing cross-culturally after working 15 years as an international executive for Unilever. Before leaving Unilever to become Avon’s CSCO, Vikram led its business leadership team in Africa, responsible for an end-to-end supply chain across 15 countries with 25,000 employees.

Key Takeaways

Intercultural management and authentic leadership: Throughout his time in India, Singapore, UK, Africa, and then back in the UK, Vikram developed a global perspective in managing people from various backgrounds and gained a deep understanding of what moves, incentivizes, and motivates people. He talks about Authentic Leadership, which cuts across cultural diversity—purposeful, value-driven, and building personal relationships. The business landscape differs in each region, and understanding that has to start from understanding the cultural diversity of the people we work with.

Purpose-driven supply chains: Supply chains need to take a 360-degree approach to sustainability. Having witnessed multiple activities that deeply impacted the eco-socio order, Vikram realized that it's not only sustainable sourcing that enterprises should focus on, but it's also fair wages and living conditions improvement, waste and carbon footprint reduction for the environment, the wellness of communities, and the consumers' health. 

Value creation through supply chain transformations: 

  • Digital transformation of supply chains may fall in the traphole of being unaware of its business impact. In reality, the supply chain can be the crucial accelerator when it understands how it helps create business value and how the supply chain's workforce can help drive this.
  • How the supply chain contributes to the three fundamental business goals: revenue (through maximizing serviceability and distribution), profitability (cost-efficient supply chains), and cash generation (working capital and CAPEX in the supply chain)
  • The essence of customer service: Outstanding customer service, including speed of product innovation rollout, is the competitive edge of any consumer products business. As shoppers become more demanding and retailers become leaner, the headroom between on-shelf availability and customer service is shrinking. This can only be bridged by smarter demand sensing and flexible production systems. The solution is not more inventory but smart inventory optimization.

Advice to leaders: 

  • Focus on people: Define the right points for decisive intervention and autonomize the rest.
  • Sustainability at the core: Be responsible for the social, economic, and environmental impact of products and operations in their holistic sense. 
  • Service, Cost, and Cash: Stay integrated with business leadership teams, make the business metrics central to the supply chain plans, distribute wide, and innovate fast.
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About the author

Caleb Masters Podcast Producer at o9 Solutions, Inc.

Caleb Masters

Podcast Producer at o9 Solutions, Inc.

Caleb Masters is a content creator and strategist who leads thoughtful and insightful conversations for brands to educate, inspire, and entertain listeners and convert to bottom-line results through new media, including podcasts, webinars, and live-streamed videos. In his ten-plus years of experience as a content creator, he's led teams and served as on-air talent, where he's spoken with thought leaders across the supply chain, leadership, HR, HCM technology, and entertainment industries. He currently hosts and produces the o9 Solutions podcast, Masters of Digital Transformation.

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