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ASCM Insights

Achieving Supply Chain Leadership Balance

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Haris Ikram, CLTD
Senior manager of sector sustainability, climate and energy
Africa, Middle East and South Asia
PepsiCo Pakistan

Editor’s Note: Haris Ikram, CLTD, earned the 2021 ASCM Award of Excellence — Emerging Supply Chain Leader for being a visionary young professional who has made contributions to the supply chain profession and demonstrating strong potential to become an outstanding leader in the field. To learn more about the ASCM Awards of Excellence, visit ascm.org/awards.

What events in your life led you to a career in supply chain?

As an engineer, I started off my career in operations as a process engineer at Procter & Gamble. I worked across all areas of supply chain in buy, plan, make and move in diverse industries and geographies, including at British America Tobacco in Pakistan and Singapore, Reckitt Benckiser in Bahrain, and most recently at PepsiCo in Pakistan. At PepsiCo, I have worked as a global procurement category manager, a site engineering services manager, and a supply planning and logistics manager. I was recently promoted to my current role as a senior manager leading our sector sustainability agenda for climate and packaging across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia (AMESA).

What are your primary responsibilities in your current role?  

I am responsible for designing and implementing short-, medium- and long-term strategies for greenhouse gas emissions reduction across the PepsiCo value chain. This extends from our suppliers to the very last transporters that deliver our products to retailers. I also help all markets in the AMESA sector implement concrete steps to reduce our absolute scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 75% versus a 2015 baseline and reduce our scope 3 emissions by 40%. In addition, I am tasked with ensuring that all of our company-owned manufacturing units are 100% renewable by 2030 and that all of our franchise-owned units are 100% renewable by 2040. 

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered on your career path so far? How did you overcome it?

I recently was tasked with harnessing the excess capacity versus demand by expanding our logistical network to add warehousing capacity for four days of inventory on hand — or the equivalent of 0.5 million square feet of unracked warehousing space — but only for three-to-four months. The challenge was to find space of this size and a partner willing to rent to us for such a short period. 

We decided to partner with a start-up in Pakistan called Oware. The team was agile and eager for growth, but they were new to the industry and had a steep learning curve. To make it work, we assembled a taskforce of experts from our safety, quality, warehousing and security teams to share best practices with our new partner. We also implemented a vigorous audit regime to track progress and quickly resolve any lapses or concerns. We also helped Oware develop inventory management and automation systems to ensure timely and accurate transfer of data and other information.

After a month of teething issues and a few hiccups, we were able to deliver this difficult project successfully and actually set a precedent for managing spillover warehouse with a very high level of flexibility.

How has your leadership approach evolved in light of the pandemic and the increase in remote work?

As a leader, I helped my team adapt to a new way of working. We implemented very flexible work-from-home policies, taking extra care to ease scheduling burdens for working parents. I encouraged my team to spend more time with their families, and I shared stories about how I was taking advantage of working from home to be closer to and more present for my own family. I also encouraged my team members to make their own health and wellness a priority.  

What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment or experience so far?

Throughout my more than 10 years working in supply chain, I have worked on projects that have delivered more than $11 million in productivity and cost savings. Considering all of that, I have a favorite accomplishment for each of the various roles I have served in.

For my supply planning and logistics manager role, I am especially proud of improving both demand forecast accuracy and production planning compliance to the high 80s, making the Pakistan market the best in class in planning key performance indicators in AMESA. My team achieved meticulous accuracy in our distribution and transportation planning, which enabled us to deliver 100% customer target compliance and greater than 95% customer fill rate to a very high level of customer satisfaction. Lastly, by implementing tools such as lean six sigma, I was able to drive the highest productivity in one of the lowest-cost markets. These productivity projects included using digital tools to improve cube use of logistics vehicles and using time-motion studies to optimize resources in our labor operations.

What is your top career goal moving forward?

I have always thrived on diversification, and I plan to continue diversifying my career by seeking out roles in different geographies and different departments and functions. I believe diverse experiences are critical for expanding the depth and breadth of a professional’s experience. I hope these experiences push me toward my ultimate career goal of leading PepsiCo’s AMESA supply chain as a senior vice president.

At the same time, I would like to become a more compassionate, humble and empathetic leader who is able to establish a clear vision for team and then drive my team with trust, honesty, sincere displays of vulnerability and empathy.

What advice do you have for other young professionals and emerging supply chain leaders?

Two words: balance and priorities. For me, balance means being able to give the right value, time and energy to five priorities: spiritual health; parents; spouse and children; physical health and, of course, career. Achieving this balance requires meticulous time management to conserve the right amount of time and energy for all of my priorities. In order for me to sustainably perform and grow in my career, I also need to take care of myself. Otherwise, I would not have the energy to maintain the level of performance needed for growth.

A Day with Haris Ikram, CLTD

8 a.m. I wake up after snoozing three or four alarms since 7:30 a.m. Once I regain my senses, I look for updates about the execution of yesterday’s plans. I breathe a sigh of relief when I find that execution is going according to plan. I then spend 20 minutes doing core-strengthening exercises to prepare for hours of sitting at a desk.

9 a.m. While sipping coffee at my office, I use my customized time management tools to divide the daily activities into critical, non-critical and to be delegated categories. This helps me divide my nine-hour work day in an effective manner and helps me insure that critical activities are not missed because of ad-hoc requests or procrastination.

9:30 a.m. I catch up on daily updates and emails and make a list of priorities for my morning meeting.

10 a.m. I join my team’s daily, hour-long morning meeting. This is one of my favorite meetings because it is so effective. In just one hour, we discuss all of the issues of the day, share status updates about our 130 customers, discuss inventory and order positions, and fine-tune daily and balance-of-month plans.

11 a.m. I work on strategic projects, taking time to track progress and make plans for productivity and digitalization projects.

1 p.m. I take a break to enjoy my lunch of boiled chicken, broccoli and barley bread and say my prayers.  

2 p.m. I meet with our extended supply chain stakeholders. I make sure that our inbound supply teams, manufacturing teams and distribution teams are clear on the monthly sales requirements.

3 p.m. I join a status update meeting with the executive committee as part of our sales and operations planning cycle. We review updates about volume delivery for the current month and the remainder of the year.

4 p.m. I take a round of raw materials and finished goods to warehouses and spend time with our frontline workers. These visits give me deep insights into team morale and what the workers need from me as a leader.

5:30 p.m. I take a break to refresh and pray.

6 p.m. I evaluate my daily performance, monitor completion compliance of daily critical tasks, do some self-reflection and then head home to spend my evening with my family and do some more exercise.  

The 2022 Call for Entries is now open through Tuesday, May 31. To learn more about the ASCM Awards of Excellence, and to enter or nominate an exceptional organization or individual, visit ascm.org/awards.

About the Author

Jennifer Storelli

Jennifer Storelli is a freelance writer. She may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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