I interviewed Dr. Muddassir Ahmed who discussed Developing Competencies in Supply Chain.
Hi, Dustin, and thank you for the opportunity in having this talk on supply chain. An absolute pleasure.So my name is Dr. Muddassir Ahmed. I'm originally from Pakistan. I did my engineering back home in Pakistanback home, and then I left to Sweden to do my Master's in production and supply chain. So this is where I developed an interest in the profession. I worked for Volvo Cars, and I came to UK and worked for a company called Eaton in various positions in supply chain and manufacturing from a demand planner to a buyer to supply chain manager. So while I was working towards my job, full-time job, I did have a scholarship from Lancaster ManagementSchool. So I choose to go for a part-time study and fully funded my own company, and I did a Ph.D. in management science, and most of the topic was around supply development. And we looked quite in details about supply chain competencies.
So hence my career is predominantly around supply chain and logistics and manufacturing. That topic I'm very passionate about, and hopefully, I would like to contribute more to the profession. As a result, because I'm a lazy person to write research papers, it is a very rigorous process. I still want to share the knowledge with the community. Therefore, I started writing about 18 to two years ago, a blog. My blog is Muddassirism, where I write about topics of supply chain, supply chain strategy, procurement, logistics, supply chain education, supply development. I talk about tools, and I talk about processes. So my aim of my blog is to basically make it a go-to resource for any supply chain professional if they want to learn about processes; they want to learn about systems; they want to learn about execution models; and they want to learn about any tools, ABC analysis and so on, so forth. Most importantly, they want to develop themselves. So I want to make sure that all the tools and process knowledge is available for them so they can improve their knowledge and improve their businesses as a result.
Thanks. Can you talk about the concept of tool-based knowledge and learning?
Good question.I've gone through a lot of education myself and also a lot of learning and development in my career. And what I have noticed is either — and I think this is where the whole knowledge and learning has been designed, that you go to the college. You go to the university. You're early in your life, and you don't know what you want to do. But somebody says, "Go and do supply chain," and you just go and do supply chain in college and spend about $20,000, $30,000, and then you wish, hopefully, you'll get a job. But that's fine. But most of the people don't have this luxury to do so. And they started a job, and they somehow end up in the supply chain career, and they just don't have the capacity or the opportunity to get themselves towards a formal education.
So this is what I think. Over the years, I realized that a lot of people do learn a lot of competencies, supply chain, through a job. For example, if you take a planner, that person knows a lot about APICS and CIPS. That person knows about capacity and all that. And that's what they know. But if you challenge them, and they want to develop themselves, they don't exactly know what are the competencies they ought to build in and what they ought to learn. So the option is for them to go and do a certification of [inaudible 00:04:16] and SIPS. And that's cool. If they want to do it, let's do that. But again, that's a long, tedious task. And managing a full-time and a family and a certification takes a lot out of you.
So the concept I'm trying to bring in, if introduced, what I've learned in my career, what I've done is I'm trying to deduce...I'll call it supply chain competency self-assessment models. So it could be procurement. It could be logistics. It could be S&OP for demand planners. It could be inventory management for [inaudible 00:04:48] managers. So if you take supply chain in general, then you have a competencies like demand planning, supply scheduling, production planning, master scheduling, shelf-floor execution, inventory management, so on and so forth.
So out of all those topics, some people are good at it. Maybe a planner is good at MRP, demand management, capacity management, and inventory management, but maybe not in sourcing or supply scheduling. So that will become a competency gap. And then what that person would do, do a self-assessment, score himself by himself, or maybe even the managers, and then go and put that into his development plan for next year or whatever time frame it is, and then work towards either go and do an online course or buy a book or maybe a certification to close that gap.And therefore, they can become a more rounded supply chain person. So rather than pushing the knowledge towards the person, I call it more a pull-based learning and development model. So the person is pulling the tools and the knowledge content that he or she needs to development themselves, if that makes sense.
Can you talk a little bit about why this is important?
I think it's absolutely important for the supply chain professional regardless of what career stage they are. If they're in the early part of their career, if they are a few years down the line as a mid-manager or the senior managers, supply chain, like many other professions, is changing. New technologies coming in, the tools are coming in, the enrollment is getting more competitive. So if the business needs to improve, then the people who work in those businesses needs to improve. And the only way to improve is to learn yourself and stretch yourself and develop yourself. It doesn't mean you probably won't stress yourself and & develop yourself. What it means is you have a gradual learning curve, which improves your job performance. So you can probably do more with less time or do it more efficiently. And therefore, it helps you, what you're doing. It helps business. And that's and that's about it. I think if you think about any great CEOs and the senior managers, all they say is people are one of their assets. I mean, it sounds like a cliché, but that's true because those people who also learn and develop and wants to grow the business, improve themselves. They are the really differentiators between successful teams and businesses and also successful teams.
Can you talk about how this is put into practice or done effectively?
Yes, yes. Absolutely. Let me... I think I want to give this fine example, and that would actually show you how it's done effectively. Five years ago, in fact, there was a guy, when I want to learn supply chain manager hired, and he was a certain he was temporary worker. The brief was we should let him,“He's no good. I think you should let him go.”
But when I sat down with him, I saw that person got something in him. The issue is he's just not getting his direction and the development opportunities. So what I did was I gave him clear, SMART goals, as they say, specific measurable achievable realistic time scale. And I said to achieve that goal, so what's your competency gap, and we identified his competency gap. I said, okay, you probably need to go and learn towards more capacity management and learn to [inaudible 00:08:35] more and more towards more demand planning and Master scheduling and demand planning. And if you close those gaps, then you can, actually six months’ time, you can improve your key metrics. For example, as a for example as a planner, his metrics improved on time, greatly reduce lead-time, and reduce his inventory. Basic goals, which every planner should have.
So put him through the online courses. He did his courses. We have every one-to-one sessions. And gradually, you can see it. He was increasing his knowledge and competencies and applying his knowledge to a real-life business situation. And every month, he was improving his results.
So once we worked on his technical competencies, okay, you're showing a lot of potential here. Then we tried to develop his more leadership and managerial competencies. So we put him into more like a front, again, did his self-assessment. It [inaudible 00:09:29] develop plan, and put him into a leadership program. As a consequence, that person, after four years, replaced me as a manager of the team. He's managing a full team of 50 people right now. So it's a very, I think, good success story for a gentleman who was a temporary worker, young guy, four years ago. Now he's managing people, and he's got a degree and qualification under his belt, and a lot of leadership skills along with technical knowledge. So that said, that's the only way I can show you how practically it can be done.
Thanks for sharing today.
Thank you, Dustin. And thank you for the opportunity for talking to you. I look forward our discussion even more. Thank you.
About Dr. Muddassir Ahmed
Dr. Muddassir Ahmed, Ph.D
Logistics Director - DPC-D at Doncasters Group Limited