“IMD gave me exposure to what is happening in the world”
As Chief Supply Chain Management Officer of India’s largest telecom network builder, Mandeep Sachdeva is on the front line of demand forecasting. “I have to be reasonably right,” he says.
As a manager, he also needs to project assurance. He says that the IMD programs that he has followed over five years have contributed significantly to shaping the public confidence that allows him to lead from the front.
Mandeep Sachdeva is a three-time returnee to IMD. He attended the High Performance Leadership (HPL) program and the Advanced High Performance Leadership (AHPL) and more recently Leading the Global Supply Chain (LGSC) module. “They were real eye-openers,” he says.
A career in the automobile industry
Mandeep knew from an early age that he wanted to lead. After studying engineering, he entered the automobile industry as a maintenance trainee and gradually made his way up the ranks for the next 29 years.
By 1996, he was already heading a team and by 2004-2005, he was building teams from scratch according to the principle that Excellence is achieved through Collaboration. “We were able to have a vision together.” He is still in contact with many of those team members.
In 2007, the organization that employed him acquired another company and, as part of the acquisition process, he found himself wearing two hats, both as head of sourcing and director of the automotive unit. “I was overseeing 400 people, as well as juggling between the old and new management.”
First IMD, then the big career move
In 2010 he attended HPL for the first time. “The one-to-one sessions with my coach were amazing,” he says: “They opened the doors.”
“I used to hesitate in public speaking, but discovered that I’m really better at it than I thought I was. It wasn’t a problem of confidence, I just needed to raise my benchmark.”
Furthermore, he discovered that problems could be non-issues, which allowed him to learn to adjust his strategies.
When he returned to India from Lausanne, Mandeep decided to make the big move. He had been transferred to another unit within the same company, but by then he wanted to return to New Delhi for family reasons.
Indus, the largest telecom tower company in India, held by only three shareholders, came to him and said: “We want you to transform this place.” It was a huge challenge, he admits, especially since he was moving to a totally new industry.
But he came with a great team building experience and he set to work with the driving concept of Excellence through Collaboration. His objective is to provide support, guidance and stability, but, most importantly, he wants his teams to be driven by passion.
The key, he points out, is to understand that Supply Chain personnel have a dual responsibility. They not only have to promote and protect their own organization’s interests but also act as the representatives of the external partners within the organization.
In 2013/2014 and in 2015, Mandeep returned to IMD to do the AHPL program and LGSC. He says of the latter that it gave him more exposure to what is happening around the world in supply chain management, what is changing, what is new.
“There were quite a few things I wasn’t aware of,” he says, mentioning the example of the distribution of medicines to children with malaria. “I gained a lot of insight from other sectors.”
Not a textbook person, the CSCMO says that he has been applying his learnings. And the results are there: Indus Towers is now raking in the rewards, including the prestigious Gallup Great Workplace Award for two years in a row, as well as the Golden Peacock Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance.
Mandeep himself was awarded Procurement Leader of the Year at the 9th Procurement Excellence Awards in Mumbai in 2015, while his team gained the title of Procurement Team of the Year, besides others.
These awards, he points out, have come after an effort of almost three years that completely transformed the SCM organization.
“I have a team of approximately 100 people to be proud of.” He also pays tribute to the people at IMD who contributed to his personal development – each in their own way – which enabled him to achieve these successes.
It wouldn’t take much to bring him back to Lausanne, he says.
High Performance Leadership (HPL) is for experienced executives who want to achieve the next level of effectiveness in leading individuals, teams and large groups to their highest level of sustained performance.
Leading the Global Supply Chain (LGSC) is for senior executives, teams and consultants responsible for procurement, supply-chain management, operations, customer-supplier relations and sustainability improvements.