Amrish Lobo’s Multicultural Experience Offers Him a Leg Up in Global Supply Chain Management

Amrish Lobo

Amrish Lobo, director of global logistics, distribution and customer service, global supply chain at Baker Hughes Inc., was recently named among the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program, a program set up by the Institute for Supply Management and ThomasNet to recognize leading millennials in the the supply chain management and procurement fields. Lobo, 29, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University’s College of Engineering, Guindy, in Chennai, India, and a master’s in industrial engineering from Purdue University. This multicultural exposure, he said, gave him the foundation for working in global supply chain management.  

We reached out to Lobo to find out more about his background and experience as a young professional working in the supply chain.

Spend Matters: How did you get started in the supply chain management/procurement industry?

Amrish Lobo: While obtaining my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, my final-year thesis involved an innovative method to distribute sales volume among multiple suppliers in a multi-objective, multi-source supplier selection scenario using optimization techniques. This work was later published by the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The work that I performed sparked my interest to earn a master’s in industrial engineering. I was introduced to the concept of supply chain management — an exciting world different from the normal — at Purdue University. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering, supply chain management across any manufacturing or engineering industry became the ideal career starting point.

SM: What attracted you to the industry? And, what do you find most interesting about your job in it?

AL: As companies have advanced over the years in technology and innovation, the focus has now shifted to increased profitability through reduced costs. To remain absolutely competitive, corporations must think daily about what optimization initiatives must be driven, and these must be executed aggressively. This is the essence of true supply chain. I am driven by the need to constantly improve the bottom line, and supply chain provides that opportunity on several levels —  whether it is optimization in terms of inventory and materials management, lean manufacturing, sourcing/procurement or logistics.

I did not intend to work in the oil and energy industry. It happened to be where I found my first supply chain position. Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for better because unlike some other industries, oil and gas has one of the most obscure supply chains in the world. With the quest for oil shifting to more challenging environments, there is an increased focus on cost optimization through the supply chain, coupled with technological advances required to increase recovery rates.

The daily challenges are many, and there are many singular cases that require special attention. In my area of logistics, for example, a delay of a few hours could cost millions of lost revenue due to a rig being inoperative. On any given regular day, moving product across countries requires laser focus to ensure the highest safety and regulatory requirements are met. There is a constant challenge of keeping our operating costs low, while ensuring efficiencies are realized. Also, since product that is being designed, manufactured and moved is often nonstandard, there is never a dull day at work.

SM: What are your job responsibilities at your current role?

AL: I currently lead the combined logistics, distribution and customer service organization within Baker Hughes’ global supply chain. My organization has several hundred people across more than 50 global locations and is accountable for hundreds of millions of dollars in annual spend. The role includes operational and financial oversight over an optimized global supply chain logistics network supported by multiple global multi-product line distribution centers, while ensuring the highest regulatory and compliance, and Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) measures are met.

On the distribution side, my focus is on global implementation of best-in-class distribution practices, such as systems integration and optimization, inventory control, demand planning and SKU optimization, while driving operational logistics excellence and best practices across the network. We complete these tasks by consistently reducing cost year on year, with the goals of driving shorter chains and leaner plants, and delivering on Baker Hughes’ purpose of “enabling safe, affordable energy, improving people’s lives.”

Customer service and order management are functions of the enterprise supply chain at Baker Hughes. They include meeting customer needs through constant customer communication and translation of those requirements to the supply side of the value stream. We focus on “total order ownership,” which includes efficient order execution by owning every element of the order from creation through delivery. Holistically, any effort made to reduce lead time (time between customer demand and delivery) or reduce cost will result in millions of dollars of increased revenues or profit margins to the business. Every single day, my team executes upon these opportunities that help drive lower cost, while maintaining best in class service levels.

SM: Who nominated you for the 30 under 30 program?

AL: I was nominated by my colleague Lynn Fox, who heads global manufacturing for one of our major product lines.

SM: What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated for the 30 Under 30 program, and then later that you were chosen as a winner?

AL: Being recognized within an organization helps drive employee engagement and performance, but national recognition within your area of expertise helps define your contribution to industry and set the stage for competing best-in-class solutions for a better future.

There is a tremendous amount of pride in realizing that with every recognition like 30 under 30, you are now part of an elite pool of supply chain professionals that have defined a path forward for best-in-class industrial practices. While the nomination drove a heightened level of personal recognition that my organization values my contributions, the confirmation from 30 under 30 assured me that the work that I do every day has a tremendous impact within industry. I am particularly proud of being chosen to be a role model, to whom individuals looking for a career in supply chain can relate.

SM: Programs like 30 Under 30 aim to attract millennials to the supply chain management industry. Do you see this as important and necessary?

AL: Millennials are characterized by their ability to be agile and innovative in their thoughts and actions. They are moderate to high risk takers and are always on the lookout for aggressive opportunities that demonstrate high business impact and outcomes while progressing in their career, and they are willing to put in the extra effort to get there.

A business area like supply chain provides them with those opportunities. To me, supply chain is the artery of any organization. Millennials are constantly looking to get exposed to different areas of the business, and a career in supply chain provides them that perfect opportunity. It’s like working for different organizations within an organization. It has tremendous impact on the bottom line (optimizing the use of assets, warehouses and transportation lanes drives increased operational efficiency and lower costs, which increases cash flow). It also helps professionals gain an understanding of how different elements of a business fit together to ultimately deliver a value-added, customer-focused solution.

An added advantage is that supply chain management is very scalable. People with supply chain skills and knowledge have many choices in terms of the kind of locations, communities or countries that they can work in, as the field is very diverse and spans several sectors. It is expected that by about 2030, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. It is very essential that companies embracing a strong supply chain look to start building their pipeline of talent today if they expect to be highly competitive in the years ahead.

SM: How do you think your skillset fits well with a career in the supply chain management/procurement industry?

AL: I believe that a successful leader in supply chain must embrace a constantly evolving mindset focused on delivering faster, cheaper and better solutions. An engineering or technology degree coupled with a focus on operations and supply chain management creates that platform. Global multicultural experience, cross-functional and interdependent collaboration, along with transformational leadership focused on leading boldly and executing aggressively, are attributes that I have honed over the years.

SM:  What advice would you give to your peers in supply chain management and procurement?

AL: The future of any organization is highly dependent on the agility of its supply chain. The world we live in requires us to be faster and cheaper. Technology provides us the platform, but the design, development and execution of shorter chains will come from innovative solutions driven by passionate supply chain professionals.  

On a personal level, to be successful, you also need to be a connector and start networking from day one — your network is your net worth and will determine your future. You don’t know who is looking for you, and you don’t know what other people have to offer unless you make those connections and find those opportunities.

SM:  How do you expect the supply chain and procurement industry to change or adapt in the future?

AL: Nimble supply chains that are extremely responsive yet robust, that will provide the cost advantage needed for global organizations to remain competitive, will be the future of the supply chain industry. The sharing economy will advance, and almost-real-time feedback from customers and complex data-crunching systems will help define business need. Supply chains will be complex and will need to be dynamic as multichannel procurement and collaborative partnerships will help propel businesses forward while remaining competitive. There is also going to be an increased dependency on effective supply chain professionals who have a combination of engineering or technology with management skills to help drive and execute efficient and sustainable solutions.

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