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‘As a team leader, the key to my success is knowing my people and their needs well’

Manal Sharma, who works at Flipkart, highlights the importance of strong teamwork for seamless operations

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Apeejay School of Management (ASM) alumnus Manal Sharma says he remains indebted to his alma mater for providing him with significant opportunities to realise his potential and hone his managerial skills. Currently working as a Cluster Head for city logistics at Flipkart, Manal tells us about his key to success, challenges faced in logistics, and more. Edited excerpt:

Why did you opt for an MBA?

Prior to Apeejay, I did a job for almost two years after completing BTech. However, I was unable to see as much professional growth as I had expected. I thought of upgrading myself by doing an MBA. I took the CAT exam and got selected by three colleges, Apeejay being one of them. My analytical skills which I picked up in BTech along with my management skills have helped boost my career immensely.

What kind of exposure did Apeejay School of Management provide?

The exposure I got at ASM was great! I was given the golden opportunity to lead the college annual fest ‘Synergy’. As we know, a fest in a B-school is most critical and, in my journey, I was fortunate to have interacted with many faculty members and students within the college and outside. The fest was a game changer, and, in the process, it helped me know myself better and identify my capabilities. It reaffirmed my belief that pursuing management was in fact the right decision for me.

I was also fortunate to have bagged an internship opportunity with ITC Limited. I was part of the campus recruitment drive too, which is where I secured a job at Amazon. It was always my dream to be hired by leading companies and that came true when I got selected among the only six students who were chosen from our batch.

Can you tell us more about your job role at Flipkart?

I am leading the supply chain and city logistics for Flipkart and Myntra, in Central and West Delhi, along the first mile, middle mile, and the last mile. This includes seller pickups, dispatch of goods, and delivery of the product to the customer. The whole operation, connecting those nodes and providing the best vendor and customer experience, is my job charter. I lead a team—including direct and indirect reportees—of almost 250 people. From team management to operations management, everything is included in my KRA.

Logistics surely involves some challenges. What are some of the challenges in your role?

There are multiple challenges that we need to face on a daily basis. For instance, now that it is the rainy season in Delhi, geographical and topographical challenges might interrupt the process of shipment and delivery. So, you have to manage all of it in such a way that the overall customer experience is not hampered.

Sometimes, we also face manpower fallout. Supply chain and logistics go on 24×7; it is a 365-day job. It is therefore very important to have a very good connection with the delivery boys. They are the ones who help us in difficult times. Bit by bit, we need to build a good rapport among ourselves to ensure seamless operations. Supply chain and logistics are purely about man-management. If you are dealing with your team members in a nice way and there is mutual respect, the metrics would automatically improve.

The other crucial aspect is process excellence, which means how we can reduce the errors and barriers—which are tackled at the senior management level—and simultaneously focus on cost optimisation and beat the competition.

As a team leader, what would you say is your key to successfully managing people?

One thing that has definitely helped me is knowing my people well. I have always given priority to what my team wants and needs and how I can cater to them while keeping the company’s benefit in mind. Having a very strong team connection has always helped me out. I treat every team member equally—their happiness is my happiness; their pain is my pain.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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