INSEAD Participant Interview
Getting a Global View of Supply Chain Management
Could you please start by introducing yourself?
For almost two years, I have been working for Philips Healthcare as Programme Manager - Emerging Markets & Value Products, Service Parts Supply Chain. I manage a team of five people and together we help markets like China, India, Russia and Brazil get their supply chain up and running and make sure they don’t have any issues. We constantly work on improvements. I am also setting up a global value segment supply chain to serve all our markets.
Why did you decide to come on the Supply Chain Management programme?
Although I work in it, my background is not in supply chain management. So, I wanted to make sure I understood the theory. I wanted to deepen my understanding and gain some new insights and knowledge.
Did the programme meet your expectations?
I think it did. I was surprised at how pragmatic the programme was. A lot of what we were taught is easy to put into practice and you can easily apply the concepts in the workplace. We carried out group work and went over case studies. These really helped mix theory with practice.
What do you consider to be the core skills you need to be successful in your job?
It’s really important to understand all parts of the supply chain - the end-to-end process, and how all the pieces interlink and influence each other. Many supply chain managers focus just on their one section. But I need to understand what happens in the steps prior to my involvement, and also what happens in the steps after my involvement.
So, do you feel that the programme added to your skillset and has helped you perform your role more effectively?
Absolutely. Enver was a very good teacher and one part of the programme was service parts supply chain and that was very helpful for me. What is interesting is that people on the programme come from all different industries and companies. They each have their own views, their own way of doing things. You learn a lot from them.
What were the other benefits from attending the programme?
I think the classroom learning was a real value-add. There was a lot of interaction, both with the other participants and also with Enver. And in fact, I’m still in touch with some of the participants. I’ve built a good network thanks to the programme.
We looked at a lot of case studies and at one point, the author of one of these came onto the course and we could ask him all the questions we had on his case study. It was really helpful and an effective way to learn.
What was the highlight of the programme?
I think the simulation game was the best. You get into groups and each person in the group plays the part of a different manager in the supply chain. It’s a really fun and interactive way to learn. It allows you to put into practice the theory that you learn during the programme. The exercise mirrored what happens in real life and this made it really interesting. And once the simulation is finished, we talk about the findings with Enver and he takes you through each part of the exercise and the impact of decisions at each part of the supply chain
So what it does is enable you to come away with a holistic view of how the supply chain works, and not just a view of your one particular part. It helps you realise that your part of the supply chain is dependent on what comes before it and likewise, that the decisions you make, have an impact further down the chain also.
So, when you went back to the workplace, did you feel that the programme gave you a greater understanding of your organisation and how your supply chain is put together?
Of course. As programme manager, I am involved from day one in decisions and meetings with colleagues to determine a project’s course. In the past, I perhaps did not fully understand the importance of involving certain functions into the decision-making process, especially at the early stages of a project. Now I do. I understand what other teams are trying to achieve. I can see the bigger picture better than before. The programme enabled me to change my approach to my work. I am more integrated and more aligned with other teams.
The programme gave me the confidence to take part in discussions with other teams, to be more heavily involved in projects, to state my opinions and to give advice. Many of the people on the programme, including myself, were there to brush up on their knowledge and to seek confirmation that what they were doing in the workplace in terms of supply chain management was correct. And when you discover that you do indeed possess good knowledge, gained from on the job learning, and that you can add to your knowledge thanks to the new insights gained during the programme, well all of this gives you greater confidence.
What did you think about the teaching?
Enver is very knowledgeable. He was dynamic and engaging. He shared a lot, both on the programme, and even after it finished. He went beyond what he could have done.
Why did you choose INSEAD?
When I looked around, I couldn’t find any other course like Supply Chain Management. It was the only one which had the right length and content.
How would you describe the programme?
I would highly recommend it. The programme gives you in-depth knowledge of the supply chain and how all the parts are interlinked. And you get all this in a short, intense space of time with a like-minded group of people.