Once an engineer, Abhishek “Abhi” Dahiya has become a strong proponent of supply chain as a fulfilling and important career path. So much so that he was recognized this year by the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars recognition program, a jointly sponsored initiative of ThomasNet and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).
Currently, he is a global commodity management senior at Dell Technologies. When he began his working life, he got to see firsthand as an engineer in India how heavily his clients invested in their supply chains. Soon, he began to figure out how to be part of that critical supply chain equation. His efforts have borne fruit as he has worked to leverage technology to solve supply chain headaches. At Dell, he developed an inventory dashboard that helped reduce factory backlog by 37%. He also helped create a migration path from Microsoft Excel to an online reporting portal that saved upwards of 10 hours per week for each of the organization’s 45-person team.
We sat down with Dahiya to find out more about his thoughts on the modern supply chain and the career potential of the field.
EBN: You took a roundabout way to supply chain. What is it about supply chain makes it a great choice for people with technical/engineering background?
Dahiya: At the core of both supply chain and engineering lies the very concept of optimization: remove redundancies, improve performance and save time. Both fields require similar propensity towards systematic problem-solving. The mere difference lies in the scope, scale and systems used. Gone are the days when supply chains were all about conveyor belts, the era we live in requires robust and innovative ideas. Now, of course, there are more direct correlations let’s say between mechanical engineering and manufacturing or operations engineering and logistics. But even as a computer science engineering graduate, I still correlate and use skills I have learnt. All engineers understand how to use machines for the betterment of human potential but more importantly they understand the limitations that these machines pose as well. I’d say it’s a perfect choice of background for people interested in supply chain.
EBN: What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in the electronics supply chain? What did you learn about this career path that you wished someone had told you earlier?
Dahiya: The desire and ability to keep in touch with what’s latest in the industry are very essential. The openness to learning things out of the scope of your job, make you perfect for that job. For example, I cannot imagine a memory commodity manager to not know the difference between DDR3 and DDR4.
Time management as a concept I believe is underrated and is essential in a supply chain career. Also, understanding different cultures is vital. In a job that spans multiple continents, knowing and respecting cultural difference becomes synonymous to success.
EBN: What are the biggest challenges in terms of getting beyond old school attitudes and ways of doing things in the organization?
Dahiya: The biggest challenge was to move from “Survival of the Fittest” attitude to “In union, there is strength” attitude. Don’t get me wrong here, MBA school and many companies do try to instill collaboration and team work ethics but the fight for grades, promotions, getting selected for a scholarship and finding a job type scenarios make it difficult. When one starts working especially in supply chain, one can barely achieve little without team-work.
EBN: What help and support have mentors offered you? What advice would you offer to electronics OEMs who want to be an employer of choice to the next generations of supply chain managers?
Dahiya: I owe all my success to my mentors. I try and meet with them bi-monthly, prepare an agenda, and plan ahead for things I want to discuss. The biggest mistake I made and I am sure many of my co-millennials would have mde too in their early career, is assuming that we know it all. My mentors taught me humility and self-awareness. To tell you the truth, I learnt the most when I listened.
The advice I would give to electronics OEMs is to spend the most on people development. And by that, I mean both hiring the right talent but also improving and investing in the existing talent. People development sounds more common than it is to find in companies these days. When team members feel looked after, they embrace a sense-of-belonging to the company they work for and finally, this leads to increased productivity.
EBN: What else would you like to say about supply chain as a career or your experiences?
Dahiya: Supply chain is a dynamic and demanding career choice. There is no one way of doing things and no help manuals. Yet, it is the most rewarding career. Supply Chain has taught me patience, humility, and respect. Patience to accept that you do not always have the right answer. Humility to learn something from everyone and respect for the difference in cultural and people around the world. I love it
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN