Over the years I have achieved a lot in my career and my efforts have been duly recognized and awarded by the WPA network.
My father served in the Army Service Corps for 35 years, so I was aware of logistics from a very young age. After completing my MBA in international marketing from Symbiosis, Pune, I began work with an export company which was 100% EOU and I chose the logistics department. I later moved to an IATA freight forwarding company where I thoroughly enjoyed the daily challenges and performed against all odds.
Initially, people were reluctant to accept me since I was in operations and not in finance or HR. But I never faced this when dealing with my overseas clients, who never doubted or questioned my capability to handle the logistics. Indian customers, vendors, and even the Customs have looked at me with doubt and I have faced innumerable questions from them. But it neither mattered to me then and does not matter even now; rather I became more determined to move ahead with more power and force.
Over the years I have achieved a lot in my career and my efforts have been duly recognized by the WPA network. I was awarded the most valued member from South Asia and CIS in 2017; again in 2018 as the most valued member from South Asia; and in 2019, I was awarded as the Best of the Best. Now recently on 17 February 2021, I have received 'Women in Freight & Cargo Award' by business leader of the year.
In my Kazakhstan office, we have a team of girls only and I love to see the aggression in them. My India office is still in search of such talent.
Logistics is about planning, finding solutions, or creating solutions in order to get the job done, and for this, the gender of the employee is not important. Unless women themselves do not break the gender typecasting, it would remain a challenge for them to move forward in this industry. I am still looking for women to join Anil Mantra and show me the fire in them to accept all sorts of challenges, irrespective of what the old school of thought is regarding women working in a male-dominated industry.
At Anil Mantra, we do not have any special policies because as soon as I make a special provision for women, it proves me wrong on the ideologies I believe in. So, we give equal opportunity, authority, and freedom to work to all - irrespective of their gender.
My advice to women is believe in yourself and in your capabilities. Take the decision on what area of logistics you want to work in and not someone else tell you that you would be good in co-ordination, finance or HR. Learn to hold the reins of your career in your hands instead of giving it to others. If you believe that we are all equal only then can you make the world believe it too.
The emergence of India as a manufacturing hub for the world would lead to a corresponding quantum leap in diverse logistics requirements.
Looking at the boom and impact of AI / digitalization, I feel it would improve the efficiency and performance in freight management and operations at ports and ICDs. Warehouse automation will help achieve operational efficiencies and counter the cost pressures in the industry. With the Government setting up a logistics division under the Department of Commerce, emerging technologies and development / sanction of dedicated freight corridors and logistics parks would certainly streamline the logistics landscape in India.
At Anil Mantra, we are well connected with the airports and the CFS/ICD’s in major cities. As per the demand by our clients for a preferred ICD or CFS, we try our best to make the arrangements to fulfil their needs. We are a very flexible organization where we give priority to the customers need and take pride in providing them tailor-made solutions.
Advancements in automation and digitalization has had a profound impact on the logistics workforce but I strongly believe that it would be more beneficial for the industry to work in synergy with a human touch.
Robotic working and digitalization can help in warehousing and documentation but logistics and supply chain is much more than just warehousing, pick/pack and documentation. It is about solutions, and a different solution for every customer, for every shipment, every package that you move. In short, the industry requires tailor made solutions where its manpower would play an integral role, irrespective of the advanced technologies that we bring. Technologies will certainly help the industry, but they can never govern it.
We have no fixed strategies since with every new shipment and a new client, the strategies made yesterday will become obsolete today. We believe in taking on challenges, making timely decisions, and acting on the solutions.
At Anil Mantra, we do not like to restrict ourselves as masters in a single field. For me, each and every shipment, every project, pick up or delivery, holds the same importance. We provide solutions, be it to the pharma industry or the automotive or any other industry, and we are as focused on our project cargoes as on our daily movements. We have no fixed strategies since nothing is defined and there are no set rules or paths. With every new shipment and a new client, the strategies made yesterday will become obsolete today. So, every new plan or strategy will depend on the requirements of the client. Nothing motivates us more than going back home after work with the thought that we have made it work for the client and that he is happy with our services and solutions.
One of my most memorable and challenging projects was for the photoshoot of Skoda's new car KODIAQ. Two of these cars came by airfreight to the Delhi airport and we were given 7 days to deliver them at Leh. We were confident that we had 2 days to clear and another 5 days to deliver the cars by trucks. However, when the cars landed, we found that the documentation which came from Finland had not been amended. We got the cars released on the evening of the 6th day, which left us 36 hours besides which, the Leh route has limited passes for daily entry.
My team decided to drive the left-hand drive cars themselves and deliver them to the customer before sunrise a day later. We used tinted sheets and covered the cars to protect them against any scratches. The journey started at 1.30 am and the cars were delivered the next day at around 2 am - in perfect condition. Timely decision making and acting on the solutions on our part resulted in complete customer satisfaction.