Galderma Laboratories L.P.’s products range from prescription to aesthetic, and consumer skin care. So, rather than managing a single supply chain, the company delivers to three distinctly different markets that each have unique needs. This makes supply chain management more complex and competitive than ever before, according to Jaideep Parekh, Galderma’s director of supply chain.
“That’s really put a tremendous amount of focus on how valuable consistency and reliability within the supply chain discipline have become, especially in the retail sector,” Parekh says. “A few years ago, you had around 7–10 days to get the product into the retail channel. Today, it’s roughly 4–7 days.”
Delivering the right product mix is also critical, which means supply chain teams must analyze and act on vast amounts of data very quickly. Manufacturers can collect more information than ever from their customers about sales volumes, on-shelf availability, and dozens of other data points. However, the sheer volume of available information can test supply chain managers, systems, and staff, Parekh says.
“It’s great to have information. Now, it becomes a challenge of what you do with that information,” he says. “As a supply chain function, I think we’re still figuring that out. It is also imperative to use information to deliver improved service to customers; supply chains that do this successfully will be differentiated and best in class.”
Parekh says he thinks that’s the case across the supply chain discipline, regardless of a company’s size. However, supply chain management has come a long way in his more than twenty years in the field.
Before coming to Galderma, he served as a key accounts executive for Coca-Cola in India when the brand was just beginning to enter many of the country’s markets. Back then, Parekh was tracking most supply chain data manually. He even rode along with delivery drivers, expanding distribution points, merchandising products, and collecting payments to gain insights. Nevertheless, even then, Parekh says Coca-Cola had a firm grasp of how long trucks would be on the road, current fuel prices, and other details that drove operating costs.
“It was probably one of the best supply-chain educations someone could have asked for,” Parekh says.
He got a more formal education at Texas Christian University, where he earned an MBA with a focus on supply chain management and finance. He then rose through the ranks at the eye care company Alcon, where among other initiatives, he led the Continuous Improvement Program where he focused on optimizing costs and increasing employee engagement.
The program, which encouraged improvement ideas from employees, got the vast majority of suggestions from management before Parekh recommended to his supervisor that they solicit more input from people directly involved in daily operations. His supervisor was quick to sponsor this suggestion and, within eighteen months, one in every three employees in US distribution operations had submitted a viable idea that was implemented.
Today, he applies that lesson at Galderma, where he has been since March 2017. At Galderma, the Cost Improvement Program already has senior-level sponsorship, and he encourages ideas from team members at every level. In fact, he says he actively encourages feedback—both positive and critical—and is committed to act on it when warranted.
“I want a collaborative team. I don’t want a cooperative team because, willingly or unwillingly, we will start agreeing on things,” he says. “We have consciously built a culture across our organization that encourages passion, accountability, collaboration, and external focus, and that has resulted in the discovery of ways to improve our supply chain, which has ultimately advanced our business results.”
That openness to discover solutions is necessary, Parekh says, because supply chain management is evolving all the time, which is why he hires for attitude over aptitude. People with the right mind-set can easily master new skills, which will be necessary as the industry continues to change. The one constant is an external focus on the customer.
“A lot of the value the supply chain brings is how efficiently we can run, and that means taking the waste out of the system when we can find it,” he says. “But we need to be effective as well. I can drive a lot of costs down but, at some point, that graph between efficiency and effectiveness is going to intersect.”
Finding that sweet spot is where he has his team focused, but he’s careful to remind them, and himself, that sales drive deliveries—not the other way around.
“At no point do I forget that I am only here because there are customers and patients with needs and who are willing to choose our innovative products,” he says. “So, if it’s not creating value for the customer, then we need to have a second look at what we’re proposing.”