INSEAD Participant Interview

Learning to Seeing Supply Chain Management as Integral to Business Performance

Ihab Tabbara

General Manager

Gulf Depot in Jeddah

Supply Chain Management past participant 


Could you please start by introducing yourself?

I am General Manager for Gulf Depot, a company which is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We are part of the Roots Group and provide a total solution in the building materials sector: from design and manufacturing, to distribution and build. We do this in the GCC region (Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE) and across the wider Middle East.

We also have 30 show rooms in the region, selling to end users and small contractors on a cash and carry basis. I oversee the operation of the showrooms. I am also responsible for growing to 50 showrooms by 2017 and making sure we are the number one choice for our customers.

Why did you decide to come on the Supply Chain Management programme?

I hoped the programme would give me insights into the logistics and distribution side of our business. I wanted to get a wider view of the way we do business.

What kind of insights did the programme give you about logistics and distribution and how will you use these back at work?

To properly and efficiently manage the flow and distribution of the goods from the supplier side until the goods reach our main warehouse and then eventually to our showrooms.

Can you think of a particular challenge in your job for which the Supply Chain Management programme will help?

The main challenge we face is from the competition, of which there is a lot in the region. The Supply Chain Management programme showed me how to add value to our operations and business and how to overcome the threat of competition.

Can you explain what it taught you about adding value and overcoming competition?

The added value that we will use has to do with economy of scale. We will be expanding and opening more showrooms and eventually getting better purchasing prices from our supplier.

Did the programme meet your expectations?

I was surprised. I was expecting the programme to centre around operations: logistics and transport etc. That was not the case. The programme is about seeing the business as a whole and viewing supply chain management as integral to business performance. It was an unexpected takeaway.

How did you find the other participants?

There was a good mix from different backgrounds, companies and industries. We shared information and it was very helpful.

Do you feel that the programme added to your skillset and has helped you perform your role more effectively?

As far as conducting the business and thinking about the supply chain, the programme has helped me see how to get from A to B more efficiently and effectively.

In what respect?

In the sense that the programme covered, and analysed, cash flow and inventory management.

How do you see yourself implementing these learnings to make your supply chain more efficient and effective?

The two main topics that I have started to implement are the new formulas for stock replenishment (as used in the vendor machine case) and also negotiating the terms for the supply of materials in order to get a better discount and therefore reduce the cost of goods.

Do you feel the programme gave you new insights?

Rather than new insights, I think what the programme enabled me to do was to take a step back and listen to others. How do they manage their supply chains? Why can’t I implement their solutions in the same way? It helped me look at the broader picture and analyse how I am doing things and whether or not it is the best way.

Why did you choose INSEAD?

I had a couple of friends who had been to INSEAD so that helps. INSEAD also has a great reputation as one of the best business schools. Add this to the fact that I couldn’t find the right programme elsewhere, and going to INSEAD made sense.

How would you describe the programme to others in your organisation?

The Supply Chain Management programme covers costing, alignment, replenishment, value and sustainability and gives participants an overall view. It helps them understand the importance of their operations and the different parts that make up the supply chain.

It is a broad programme that applies to many industries and each can take away the bits that are relevant to them, fit them into their organisation and implement the learnings.

Interested in the programme? If you have further questions, consult our websitedownload the brochure or contact Mark Hoggarth, the programme advisor, on +33 1 60 72 40 38 or at [email protected]

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