I interviewed Junaid Tahir who discussed Supply Chain in a Distribution Company in Pakistan.
It’s great to speak with you again, Junaid. It’s been a long time since we did our last interview, and we actually did our first interview around 2008 or 2009. It’s good to stay in touch and in frequent communication to share with the supply chain community. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on supply chain in a distribution company in Pakistan. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?
First of all, thanks, Dustin, for reconnecting; it’s been a while and thanks for getting my feedback. Basically, I’m a supply chain professional working in Pakistan for the past seven years. By professional degree, I have an M.B.A., and I also have a technology degree, which, I think, gives me a good mix of skills, education and experience to tackle supply chain challenges in Pakistan today. Apart from that, I’m also a certified supply chain professional, which is a CSCP, and I’m also a Project Management Professional, i.e. PMP. These two things, coupled with my university background, gives me a decent skill set to tackle supply chain challenges.
Can you talk about why you got involved with supply chain and why you think it’s important?
Well, I just stumbled into supply chain. I think with my background, I’m not the traditional supply chain professional. I was working in largest oil marketing company in Pakistan in their corporate planning department, when a supply chain position came up. I liked my new manager, and I thought the work would help me understand the whole company because supply chain is connected to virtually every function of the company. I think, by definition, supply chain is like the nucleus of a company through which all information, finances and physical products flow. Hence it has to be connected with everybody in the company. I thought this would give me a very good understanding of the whole company, which it did.
A few other things: Supply chain is a lot about data, it’s a lot about processes, which, given my technology background, I was always interested in. Added to this was the broad scope of supply chain is connected to every function of the company. Plus the data and process orientation. I think these were the few aspects that attracted me to supply chain and which I still find attractive, which is why I’m still in supply chain.
How does one get to know more about supply chain if they’re interested in being a supply chain professional?
In Pakistan, in the top tier universities, supply chain is still not a specialization. In other universities, supply chain does exist as a separate degree or separate discipline; however, now, over the past five or six years, supply chain courses are being offered. In my case, it was a process of exploration. You have to keep an open mind and understand supply chain is a lot about common sense as well. Now, professionals do have certification or some degree, but a few years back, it was a lot about common sense. In my case, I did my certified supply chain professional certification, which gave me an overview of the key components in supply chain; however, in most companies, they have a really specific kind of supply chain. Hence you need to keep an open mind and understand the situation. However, now in Pakistan, a lot of people are getting the CSCP or CSCM certification done. Now, the awareness is gradually and quickly increasing.
Can you talk about your experience in your country with doing supply chain?
Well, supply chain is still an evolving function. As I said, people are still getting certified; the education part has been picking up over the past few years. I’ve been in—this might be a personal experience, but I feel that companies are more driven by the sales initiatives, so, at times, it can be harder…
I wanted to ask you about the company * (5:55—unclear) and your experience with the distribution company in Pakistan.
Can you talk about your experience at a distribution company in Pakistan that you work with?
Mostly, the sales and distribution sector is not very, I would say, organized or a part of the best companies. This is what I was expecting as well when I joined my current company, but I was in for a nice surprise because I was about to be proven wrong. Firstly, most of the issues that I had observed, but was able to address fully in supply chain and thought of fixing supply chain or management issues. When I go in here, I saw that most of these issues and most of the fixes had already been done. This was a much more complicated and sophisticated supply chain that I was encountering.
Secondly, the supply-planning role was new in the company, so there was a lot of, I would say, revolution and evolution associated with my work because it was new, and you needed to get people to understand what it actually was. The role was also critical because, for a sales and distribution company, inventory is the most important, I would say the lifeline of the organization. Hence it was a very challenging role.
Thirdly, I was right on the boundary but working closely with the principal or manufacturing company. Basically, in a very short span of time, I was exposed to not one company, but two companies which were working close together hand in hand. I would say it was a rather overwhelming period for the initial few months.
Thank you. Do you have any final recommendations for supply chain management in your part of the world?
Recommendations, I would say that, again, theory and supply chain education is key to being a supply chain professional. In Pakistan, it’s still in the process of evolution, and other functions—like, maybe finance or marketing and sales—might seem stronger and more vocal within the company, but supply chain is a core function which has this opportunity to be structured. Most people in supply chain are working with most functions of the organization, so they have a lot of data. It’s all about organization and the more organized and structured you are, the smarter and stronger you’ll get and the better decisions you’ll make.
With regard to this part of the world, I think now, with the investment that China is making in Pakistan, I think a lot of opportunities and a lot of evolution will happen in terms of the road network, the transportation network. The whole initiative is about cost efficiency, so this will definitely—if it happens, and, eventually when it happens, this will definitely improve the quality and talent of supply chain that we have in Pakistan.
Thanks again for sharing.
About Junaid Tahir
Supply Planning Manager at Abudawood Pakistan