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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Be open to new challenges — understanding the logistics industry

Authored by: Sushil Rathi, CEO, Lords Freight Limited Ramdas Shenoyy in conversation with Mr. Sushil Rathi, Chief Operating Officer at Mahindra Logistics.

Mr. Sushil Rathi
Chief Operating Officer
Mahindra Logistics.

How has the logistics industry transformed itself to handle the present Covid scenario?
For the logistics industry, like with most other industries, the focus has been resilience, restart, and reconfigure.  A PwC industry survey says that the industry expects early signs of recovery in September 2020 and an almost 80% recovery to pre-covid revenue run rate by June 2021. The focus for logistics companies has been primarily threefold – capital conservation, remodeling operations and digitally enabling themselves. While cost optimization has always been in focus for organizations, digital enablement and tech levers have become a big priority for businesses in the current scenario.

What are the key differentiators of Mahindra Logistics which differentiate itself — men from the boys?
For Mahindra Logistics specifically, the focus has been on innovation and reinvention.

At MLL, we strongly believe that our competitive advantage is our “asset-light” business model pursuant to which assets necessary for our operations such as vehicles and warehouses are owned or provided by a large network of our business partners. Our technology enabled, “asset-light” business model allows for scalability of services as well as the flexibility to develop and offer customized logistics solutions across a diverse set of industries.

By moving up the value chain, by offering services like contract manufacturing, sort centres for ecommerce operations, returns management, international freight services etc we are able to provide integrated as well as high end value added services to our customers thereby keeping ourselves ahead of our competitors.

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How do you see the growth of this sector which is dependent on the overall thriving of other sectors? What are the major challenges and what are you doing to address the same?
The pandemic has severely disrupted the demand side and supply side. On the supply side, with the lockdown in place, the manufacturing sector as well as the service sector were both shut down, as per government directives to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 virus. As you can imagine, this has led to disruption in the production schedule of the companies and impacted the overall business environment.

For many large organizations safety, flexibility and compliance is becoming increasingly important in the current scenario. This presents a distinct opportunity for organized players like Mahindra Logistics to take a larger share of outsourced logistics business.

With regards to our strategy to recover, we have remained focused on our key strategic platform despite the headwinds we have had in the auto industry. We have deepened our focus by launching new solutions, value added services like returns processing, pop-up sort centers and integrated distribution services. These are evident in our continued growth in other sectors.

We expect to see a recovery in various verticals from September onwards such as e-commerce, consumer, pharma and international freight businesses. While we will have short-term challenges, we remain confident in our continued focus on executing our strategy and building up customers and partners over the medium to long term.

What are the qualities required for becoming a successful logistics operations professional?
The intensity of the skills for a successful logistics operation professional varies by function and levels. As the logistics sector is transforming rapidly and is getting more technology driven, there is a dire need for the workforce to continuously make efforts in enhancing their skills and knowledge to work and adapt to latest innovations and processes. The 3PL professionals have to be experts with a diverse range of skills to execute their duties and the ability to analyze and multi-task are a crucial component for them to be successful.

Other than that, one should always be open to new challenges. With the newest innovations and developments in the specialised warehousing, cold supply chain, and digital wave transforming the logistics sector, it is very important to have a skilled manpower that is efficient and well-equipped.

What new initiatives have you planned in the post Covid or Co-Covid scenario?
At Mahindra Logistics, we have been adhering with the guidelines stipulated by the central, state and local government authorities and ensured safety measures and wellbeing of all our employees and families well before the lockdown was announced. We had initiated actions in early March, a couple of weeks before the official lockdown was announced. We reduced staff across the offices and launched safety measures across all our sites. We have been very mindful of the safety and security of all our employees and that has been of utmost priority to us. We established infrastructures for all our employees working from home during the lockdown period. Our HR team was constantly in touch with all employees to check on their safety. We have been using this lockdown period to do a variety of things for our employees and kept them engaged through digitally connecting with them.

Once lockdown is gradually withdrawn, we have put in place a strong back to work framework. We have implemented various measures to ensure that our facilities are safe and secured. We have also initiated actions to implement social distancing by re-engineering processes in our warehouses and our transport operations. We have been fumigating and sanitizing all our operation sites.

Beyond work, from an overall perspective, we have launched a helpline to support our employees, drivers in our network and other business partner resources. We have been working on various systems and programs in our broader ecosystem. We have launched free emergency cab services, driver relief programs and assistance programs under our HOPE initiative.

Your idols in life and your success mantra?
It is difficult for me to talk about a single idol in my life. I have drawn inspiration from people in all walks of life. Be it my parents, my family members, my classmates, my superiors or my juniors in profession or a common man in society, I have tried to learn from each one of them.

My success mantra is to keep things simple, live in the present, never lose your cool and respect time. This allows you not to take unnecessary stress and makes your decision making more efficient.

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