Supply Chain Management is probably the fastest growing industry, owing to exponential increase in trade – says Muhil Devarajan in conversation with MentorClub.in

Muhil Devarajan ( Manager of Imports and Exports at Zim Laboratories) (Supply Chain Management)

Insights

  1. Working in logistics offers a very intellectually stimulating work experience. During the course of each shipment, you face a unique set of problems, which requires you to put your mental capacity to full use.
  2. Supply Chain Management is one field wherein you have a host of options right from the beginning. Plus, once you acquire your certification as a customs house agent you can start by working for a company and retain the option of venturing out on your own for a future time.
  3. You have very little control over your actual working hours in logistics. A shipment related problem requiring your immediate attention can occur at any time; even after your office hours have ended.
  4. Anyone looking to work in logistics should have great interpersonal skills. A large part of the job involves interacting and working with people from a variety of sectors to ensure that the shipment does not experience any unnecessary delays and gets to its destination on-time.
  5. It is crucial for anyone working in this profession to keep up with the current affairs, world economy and customs and regulatory laws as changes in any of these directly affects their ability to do their job, the most recent example being the implementation of the Good and Services Tax.
  6. If you are planning on logistics career, then an MBA in supply chain management would be the most practical and beneficial degree to get.
  7. There are many different verticals within logistics say for example international crate, customs, transportation, material management, warehousing etc.
  8. If your inclination is to start earning sooner, then I recommend that you pursue custom house agent certification. It’s from a government regulated agency and you only need high school education.

Profile Details

Name – Muhil Devrajan

Profession – Manager of Imports and Exports at Zim Laboratories

Age – 49

Gender – Male

City – Nagpur

Industry – Pharmaceuticals (Supply Chain Management)

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

My mother is no more, and my father was a superintendent in a university. I have a brother who has his own business and my sister is a professor of biochemistry.

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

No one persuaded me to go for this line of work. Initially, when I was looking for a job, a friend of mine helped me get one in a logistics company. I started off as an accountant, managing the billing and slowly I began to branch out and look at other things that seemed interesting. I was then promoted to exports coordinator and that was when my logistics career really began to take shape.

Please give us a summary of your career.

I did my B.Com. from Madras University and in 2009 I completed my MBA in operations management. I started off my career as an assistant at Flyjac Logistics, Tamil Nadu. After that, I got an opportunity to work at Continental Carriers, Hyderabad. Following which, I worked at IHD Industries which is an ancillary of Hyundai Motors. It was after this, that I got to work at Malladi Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, where my pharmaceutical career began.

After that, I got a chance to work as a manager at Caplin Point Laboratories, Chennai, following which I got a job offer from Zim Laboratories, where I have been working for the past 4 years.

Which institutes are best for the education of supply chain management?

I can’t recommend any particular institute, as my knowledge on the education side of this profession is limited. But, I will definitely suggest that someone looking to go into logistics, then an MBA in supply chain management would be the most practical and beneficial degree to get.

How much does it cost to do a BCom and an MBA?

I’d say for government institutes the tuition fee would be around 35,000 per annum. For private institutes, it’s bound to be higher than that and as far as MBA courses are concerned, both government and private institutes in our country are expensive.

What are the typical entry-level jobs in supply chain management?

There are many different verticals within logistics say for example international crate, customs, transportation, material management, warehousing etc. All of these together constitute the supply chain management. As a beginner, you can go into any of these depending on your degree and area of expertise; since each of them requires a different skill set.

You can super-specialize in this field by doing MBA in Supply Chain or Operations or going even further with Ph.D.

However, if your inclination is to start earning sooner, then I recommend that you pursue custom house agent certification. It’s from a government regulated agency and you only need high school education.

How does one get a custom house agent certification?

The process is simple yet long. You start off with an H card that allows you to enter this field and deal with customs and other related issues. Then, after around 2 years of experience, you can sit for an exam. On clearing that exam, you get a G card.

Then, you have to clear exams for rule 8 and 9 to get your customs house agent certification.

This certification allows you to either start your own business or work for a large company.

What is the salary in supply chain management?

The average salary with experience is given below:

5 years – INR 10,000–15,000 per month

10 years – INR 75,000–1,00,000 per month

15 years – 1,50,000–2,50,000 per month

20+years – 2,50,000–3,00,000 per month

Please describe your work as a supply chain manager.

In my previous company, I handled not only imports and exports but also statutory claims, central excise, rebate claims, etc. In my current company, work is quite different. Because the size of the company is large, a different person manages each department. So, I handle only the import-exports portfolio. When I started, there were hardly 40 shipments per month, now it’s close to 100. I was also briefly given control of purchase management, but due to internal office politics, I was once again reverted back to a just export-import portfolio.

What are benefits of choosing supply chain management as a career?

For me personally, the biggest positive is that it’s a very interesting job. Every shipment is unique – each one comes with its own set of challenges. When you work in logistics, you learn very early that something somewhere may go wrong. It’s up to you to troubleshoot the problem, utilize your mental capabilities and negotiation skills to ensure that the shipment gets its due clearance.

Also, I love traveling and this job provides ample traveling opportunities, not on a day-to-day basis but it’s more situation-dependent.

Another positive is that, in this line of work, once you gain enough experience, a good reputation and have sufficient clients in your dossier, you can venture out on your own and do very well for yourself. You don’t have to be dependent on any organization.

What are the challenges in Supply Chain Management?

Even though I have a regular 8-hour workday, sometimes it gets extended beyond the normal working hours, because I can get a call at any given time and I have to respond to it immediately. Based upon the gravity of the situation, I sometimes even have to work till midnight from my home

Odd working hours happen, when I’m handling shipments en route to African or Central American destinations, simply because of the time difference.

Another thing in logistics is that you have to be very focused and on top of every aspect of a shipment, because, like I mentioned before, something always goes awry and if you’re not giving the job your full attention, you will only end up exacerbating the situation.

What are the relevant skills that are currently commanding a premium in supply chain management?

GST has had a negative impact on the logistics industry as a whole, mainly because of poor execution. GST was initiated to make the crossing of good and services across state lines easier but the government officers on the ground are not trained for the new system. We have to handle the burden of the new rules and notifications all by ourselves. It will take time for things to settle down and for us to get used to it.

What are the qualities of a supply chain manager?

An individual should have great interpersonal skills because, in logistics, you have to deal with a varied people and government officials. You should have a positive attitude because dealing with different kinds of problems on a regular basis is an inherent part of the job and you cannot do that with a defeatist attitude.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

Purchase domain interests me within supply chain management. But, unfortunately, due to chance and circumstance, I haven’t gotten to work in that department.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey in supply chain management?

I’d like to tell millennials, who want to join supply chain management, that they should build up their general knowledge about different countries, about work culture in these different countries. One should also be aware of the world economy because this impacts your job.

I would also tell them that they have made the right decision by choosing one of the most interesting jobs out there. They will experience a very stimulating work environment. Unlike a lot of other professions, they need not worry about getting bored or plateauing out in this line of work.

Liked this article? Check out our conversation with Mr. P S Parameswaran who is Production and Supply Chain Veteran in Medicine manufacturing