Chitkara University organises National Symposium to bridge industry-academia gap in supply chain

There’s a huge gap between the kind of skills and the kind of competencies that are required by the logistics industry and those being supplied by the institutions offering supply chain management and logistics courses.

Acknowledging this area of concern, one of north India’s top-ranked institutions, Chitkara University recently organized a two-day National Symposium, with a special focus on the theme Redesigning Supply Chain – Resilient and Sustainable.

Giving a perfect start to the two-day spectacle, Dr. Neeraj Anand, PhD, Dean – SCM & General Management, Chitkara Business School commenced the Symposium by educating the students on the significance of an efficient supply chain while briefly touching upon the effect of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war on the supply chain. He also discussed how the recent events have brought focus on reskilling, switched demand forecasting with demand sensing, and fast-tracked the adoption of same-day deliveries. Dr Sandhir Sharma, Dean, Chitkara Business School, also shared a presentation from the dais as he invited the chief guest to deliver his keynote address.

Mr. Sanjay SwarupDirector- International Marketing & OperationsCONCOR, during his keynote address touched upon topics like dry ports, and multimodal operations and discussed how the industry has been struggling to increase its modal share.

He further highlighted the efforts made by the Centre and discussed the important role played by DFC, and the golden quadrilateral in helping railways run efficient cargo operations. Mr. Swarup also discussed the Trans Asian Railways and while highlighting the issues faced in its operations in India he highlighted the wrong gauge, excel road limitation, and Pakistan constraints.  

Commencing the panel discussion, Mr. Anurag Shandilya, Head of Operations – Noida International Airport talks about the many challenges faced by the air cargo industry and highlights that airports are unable to handle the growing capacity. In his address he says that Atmanirbhar Bharat can help solve a major problem faced by the air cargo supply chain, he encouraged students to address the issues and come up with innovations and become a part of India’s startup culture. 

Highlighting the positive outlook and scope of the industry, he shared, “It’s a great time for anyone interested in aviation. Right now, 100 airports are functioning and it’s foreseen that we will have 220-240 airports shortly.”

“The strength of a supply chain is as good as the weakest link” emphasized Mr. Samrat Sehgal, Head – SCM, Dabur India while talking about the resilience shown by Dabur during the trying times of the pandemic.

Painting a picture of the initial days of the pandemic, Mr. Sehgal addressed students on how with a focus on business continuity and innovation one can address the hurdles and get out of a murky situation.  

Taking the discussion forward, Dr. Aditya Gupta, COO, Supply Chain management Centre, IIMB said, “There is a lot of innovation happening in the supply chain but I believe that the highest amount of innovations that are happening in a supply chain is in the area of ‘digitalization’ and ‘Industry 4.0’.” 

“The COVID pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have brought the entire term supply chain disruption to the forefront. Now, it is believed that the next set of disruptions is going to come through climate change. The two key things that will define a supply chain are going to be digitalization and sustainability,” he said and proceeded to educate the students on the impact that the industry has on the environment and efforts that could be made to achieve net-zero emissions. 

Mr. Kapil Nayar, Zonal Head – Hub & Transport, Reliance Retail highlighted the supply chain as a differentiator for any organization, Mr. Nayar during the discussion draws the student’s attention to the phrase “Consumer is King”. 

Talking about restructuring the supply chain based on changing consumer demands and patterns, he says that running consumer-focused operations keeping in mind where what and how your consumers want a product can never go wrong. 

The insightful discussions continued on Day 2 at the National Symposium with the same zeal and enthusiasm from the students. The fresh set of panellists passed on the wisdom to the young potential entrants of the industry.

Mr. Devan Pabaru, CEO, Stellar Fulfilment Solutions, delivering his keynote address on Day 2, talks about the recent developments and reforms of the nation. He says, “India is expected to be a $5 trillion economy, which makes us the 3rd largest economy in the world. We can proudly say that we have won many battles, from a country that has fought poverty and educated poverty. We have come a long way.”

Further addressing the students, he called GST a major path-breaking reform and talked about how India has improved its total revenue which will be used to improve the infrastructure such as roads, ports, rails, etc. He continues to highlight how in the last 5 years we have doubled our national highways and held world records in road construction.

“The opportunities are endless. Logistics will grow at double the speed of GDP. From the perspective of those who want to make a future in logistics, the future is bright. There is no better time to become a supply chain and logistics professional than now,” Mr Pabaru said encouraging students to be a part of the growing industry.

Speaking on the importance of supply chain for brand excellence, Mr. Vijay Wadhani, AVP, SCM, Relaxo Footwear Ltd, said, “Usually people assure the success of an organization on the back of the quality of product and marketing, but I believe that a supply chain plays a big role in building a brand.” 

“We were a small company from north India. Today, we are not only a pan India company but a global company. It was only after establishing our supply chain that we were able to achieve a 40% compound average growth rate,” he shared.  

Mr. Gurmeet Singh, CMD, Johnson Controls Hitachi Airconditioning India Ltd, speaking on the relevance of human’s touch with increasing AI, ML automation in the industry said, “The requirement of humans will be more of mental capabilities than physical, it will take jobs to a next level of requirements. This will force us to be more skilled and probably we will be paid more for doing the same amount of work in a span of 8 hours.”

Mr. Manoj Ahlawat, AVP, SCM, Max Healthcare, speaking to the students brings forward the complexities faced in managing a pharma supply chain which along with experience and knowledge requires passion, care, and human sentiments.

He adds, addressing the students, “There is a lack of practical knowledge in the industry, so connecting people with on-ground experience is a real issue. This is a big opportunity for you guys to get trained and come into the industry. A wonderful time is coming ahead for the industry, it’s growing rapidly. I wish universities like Chitkara can come forward and ensure that we can generate a pool of talent for the industry and bridge the gap between academia and the industry.”

Citing a phrase from the Hindu holy grail, ‘Ramayana’ Mr. Sanjeev Sharma, AVP, Cargo sales, Spicejet Airlines Pvt. Ltd, initiated his address by imparting a message to the students to always be eager and humble to learn. 

He talks about how innovation, the thought to disrupt the industry, and lessons learned helped in the airline’s growth. “During the pandemic, we increased our freighters from 5 to 10 and initiated the innovation of cargo on the seat which helped us sustain during the pandemic.”

Further talking about e-commerce, which has seen unprecedented growth, he said that airlines needed to react to the market change and freighters added a lot of value to the e-commerce growth, which transported goods to not only tier I but tier II and III cities.

Dr. L. R. Thapar, Advisor, HTPL, joined the Symposium virtually and shared his remarks on the evolution of the Indian railways in terms of cargo movement and helped students understand the scope of the industry.

A presentation contest was also organised during the two-day fest to encourage more participation from academia. During the contest, students divulged in some of the industry’s latest topics with high spirits. The winners of the contest were awarded on Day 2. The first prize was bagged by IIT Indore, whereas the second prize went to Chitkara Business School, Chitkara University Punjab Campus and GD Goenka bagged the third prize.  

Chitkara University, on Day 2 of the Symposium, announced the launch of the Centre Of Excellence – Sustainable Supply Chain to encourage the students to pursue logistics as a career choice. The CoE was launched by Dr Madhu Chitkara, Pro-Chancellor, Chitkara University and Mr Deven Pabaru in hopes of a collaborative effort where people from all the disciplines can come together and encouraged more engineers to join and make help make industry processes automated.

The event concluded on a positive note with Dr Madhu Chitkara offering the vote of thanks and felicitating the speakers and winners of the presentation contest.

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