In this episode, Tony 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.
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, gaining a deep understanding of what moves, incentivizes, and motivates people. Authentic Leadership is the one that cuts across this cultural diversity- purposeful, values-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 about sustainable sourcing that enterprises should focus on, but it’s also about fair wages, living conditions, cutting out waste, carbon footprint reduction for the environment, and health and wellness for communities and consumers. Value creation through supply chain transformations:
Digital transformation of supply chains may fall in the traphole of being unaware of what business values it brings. The supply chain can be the crucial accelerator- when it understands where business value can be created and how the large number of people in the supply chain can become an asset to 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.
Advice to leaders:
Focus on people: Define the right points for decisive intervention and autonomise the rest.
Sustainability at the core: Be responsible for the socio-environmental-economic 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, innovate fast.