At ISM 2019, Jasdeep Sandhu and other ‘30 Under 30’ winners honored

Jasdeep Sandhu, 27, leads innovation in blockchain adoption at GSK. (ISM photo)

The Institute of Supply Management’s focus is on the future, and no educational session or speech at the ISM 2019 convention in Houston exemplified that more than recognizing Megawatt winner Jasdeep Sandhu and the other “30 under 30” recipients, the top young professionals in the field of supply chain and procurement.

“It’s an incredible honor. If you asked me five years ago if I’d be in this position, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Sandhu, a blockchain specialist for the pharma firm GSK who turned 27 just before the early April convention. “Honestly, what it’s done, it has inspired me so much to continue down this path because, as Carly Fiorina said so well (in her ISM speech), and I’m going to steal her quotes with pride: ‘There are a lot of skeptics and there are people that are very reluctant to change.’ To drive something like blockchain, it takes a lot of energy, takes a lot of passion.”

Sandhu is from New Jersey and he went to Rutgers University, where he participated in some ISM student chapter sessions and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in supply chain management and marketing. At GSK, his title is “Global Category Leader — Digital & Tech Innovation” and he’s based in London, where he’s running four pilot projects involving blockchain.

He said his main focus is to establish blockchain as a technology that GSK can use in its day-to-day business. One blockchain project involves getting insurance brokers to record their transactions on blockchain nodes so that GSK can get its funds back faster. A transaction that could be done quickly can take weeks because of manual processes and cross-border issues, said Sandhu, who hopes more of GSK’s business partners join the effort. He said about 15 brokers didn’t want to participate, but one did.

“I was quite surprised that some of the insurance people I was speaking to weren't as open to doing it,” Sandhu said. “It took multiple conversations to find the right partner that was willing to go on a journey with us.”

He said he hopes that the one partner will lead others to try blockchain.

“I’ve had some reluctance from some people,” Sandhu said. “It’s still very much a new type of technology for a lot of people.”

But he sees the newness as an advantage for early adopters.

“There’s so much benefit and there’s so much more opportunity to be the first,” he said. “You can customize it. You can learn from it. You can get so much more work done for free or for very little cost, and you do it in a collaborative way that you learn together rather than waiting for Amazon, Apple, Google, Accenture, one of these consulting firms to come in and then charge you nominally.

“Why not learn about it now while everyone's trying to learn? That’s my mantra.”

The skeptics of the world do concern him, but he was feeling bolstered by the award and the good vibes at ISM 2019.

“There are a lot of people that just want to see (blockchain) fail or just don’t want to learn about it, don’t want to give it the time of day,” Sandhu said. “To be nominated (for ISM’s 30 Under 30) because of a lot of the initiatives I’ve been taking, because I’ve been trying to do things differently, trying to drive thought leadership, learn with others, do it together, it’s so humbling to see that people find value in that.”

And he’s looking forward to doing even more.

“I’m going to push the gas to keep doing what I'm doing,” Sandhu said. “Companies and leaders are looking to younger talent and Millennials to help drive some of that thought leadership and to help experiment, to help learn about some of these new technologies and how do we (use) them with our existing platforms.”

He sees blockchain eventually being used in wider adoption of cryptocurrency, voting and medicine — where individuals would be able to know more about their medical needs and how they can better tailor their own healthcare.

Sandhu said the ISM nomination took about two months once his manager at GSK, Kristina Drysdale, nominated him and he went through interviews with ISM evaluators.

“After coming to this conference, the biggest thing I've taken out of it is just the energy from people wanting to learn,” he said. “It’s hard to find people that are passionate. I love that I’m able to find people that want to learn and have that thought leadership and are looking to find similar mindsets. I’m going to be coming back to ISM because of the people.”

At the convention, Sandhu said being able to talk to solution providers and other supply chain pros has been beneficial.

“I've had a few come up to me just to share how they’ve been reflecting on blockchain, some of the challenges they’ve had,” he said. “I've had two different vendors that have given me the art of the possible and even broadened my horizon.”

He and other 30 Under 30 winners were bonding, said Sandhu, who was creating a WhatsApp group to keep in contact with them.

“You’re only as strong as your network. What’s the point of a network if you don’t leverage it?” he said. “To find people that are like-minded, that are passionate, ambitious and want to help drive that thought leadership — I've had some great conversations with the 30 Under 30 group.”

With all of the attention focused on him at ISM, Sandhu seemed proudest that his brother and mom attended the convention to see him receive the Megawatt award.

“There’s no better feeling in this world than knowing your mother’s proud and seeing just that sparkle in her eyes,” he said. “Nothing else has inspired me and brought so much warmth to my heart.”

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