Skip to main content
Supply Chain Management

Poole Podcast Episode 6: Lessons Learned: COVID-19 and the Global Supply Chain, with Rob Handfield and Joydeep Ganguly

Episode 6

How has the global supply chain been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what lessons were learned so that we’re better prepared for the next pandemic? Poole supply chain and operations professor Rob Handfield and Gilead Science and Jenkins MBA alumni Joydeep Ganguly share their expertise and provide actionable insight into supply chain strategy.

Jenny Hammond: Hello and welcome back today, we have a unique opportunity to have a conversation with one of our faculty members and an alumni from our Jenkins MBA program. They are going to share with us their thoughts on how the global supply chain has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rob Handfield is the Bank of America University, distinguished professor of supply chain management here in Poole College of Management. And is also the director of the supply chain resource cooperative. Rob has consulted with over 25 Fortune 500 companies and has published more than a hundred articles and top management journals. Rob is considered a thought leader in the field of supply chain management and is an industry expert in the field of strategic sourcing, supply market intelligence and supplier development, and has spoken on these subjects across the globe.

Welcome Rob! 

Robert Handfield: Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here this morning.

 Jenny Hammond: [00:00:52] Joydeep Ganguly is currently senior vice president of corporate operations at Gilead Sciences prior to Gilead Joydeep spent 10 years at Biogen where he held executive positions of increasing responsibility in technical operations, manufacturing, and supply chain functions. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Bay Area, council science firm, scientist and North Carolina State University supply chain research consortium.

Joydeep has published extensively in areas of bioprocess optimization, supply chain transformation, and advanced process control. He was recently recognized by the national diversity council as a top 25 diverse leader in California. So happy to have you join us today to welcome back to Poole. 

Joydeep Ganguly: Thanks. Pleasure to be here.

 Jenny Hammond: Great a lot to talk about today, so let’s jump in, Rob. I’m going to start with you. As we mentioned in your intro among your many roles and responsibilities, one of them is the director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative. For those that are not familiar with this, do you mind providing us maybe a 30,000 foot view of what it is and why it’s such an asset to have here in Poole College? 

Robert Handfield: Sure Jenny.. Well, you know, 20 years ago we founded, the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative and the idea was to create a center for thought leadership and discovery. And, really my initial thought was we need to really use students to tackle many of these new supply chain challenges. Students come with new ideas and new frame of reference, and they’re also learning through direct engagement in real supply chain problems. And we’ve developed a core group of supply chain partners that we do this in today. Every supply chain student does a three-credit practicum working with one of our partners, including Gilliad who’s, who’s been one of our partners here for the last few years. So it’s very much aligned with the think and do mentality here at Poole and at NC State.

Jenny Hammond: Joydeep, I know you had the opportunity to work with Rob when you were here. So we’re going to talk a little bit more about that later, but, and your current role as senior vice president for corporate operations, I assume the pandemic has influenced shifts in much of your day to day, right? As well as impacting strategic goals and objectives.

How have you navigated these changes in the last 12 months and how have you done so to continue to keep things on an optimal level. 

Joydeep Ganguly: It’s a great question right, the pandemic sort of forced us to rethink everything. So within my, remit, I look at the cost of various functions like corporate real estate engineering facilities, procurement, which is how I know Rob very well, even with our, with our FCRC sort of collaboration.

 But even, you know, security and risk and resilience. One of the groups I do manage as the corporate, security risk and resilience functions that would actually was the front end from the front lines of the, the way the company responded. But rather than belabor on the , various theoretical aspects of our response.

So I’ll boil it down to three things, right? It forced us to, re-imagine almost everything, right. It forced us to reimagine workspace trucks. How do we design our master plans? Where are we located? How do we, I mean, Gilliad as a company has emphasizes and values collaboration as a catalyst to accelerate innovation.

We are a science-based company and, you know, part of us putting scientific innovations forward involves our scientists being able to connect and collide with each other to bring and spark innovation. So we had to rethink the way all our facilities and our real estate footprint is designed to continue to maintain collaboration.

And this is a real hybrid world. Number two had made us redefined all our business processes. You know, I’m operations within bio-pharma, wasn’t a lot known for innovation. You know, we are very, paper-based very, very focused on compliance. And I think what this forced us to do was take a look at using and accelerating things like digital transformation, that was a luxury and was supposed to be a lighthouse effort at some point in time. Now it became part of our DNA. You have to be, do you, you, you were doing things like, factory acceptance tests over zoom. You were looking at the use of AR and VR liberally. You were looking at permits being approved digitally. So the natural incentive to accelerate digital transformation and digital agendas for companies was one of the best byproducts actually. And I hope when things do return to the semi-normal, we’re able to keep that innovation, with us.

So besides redefining business processes and sort of re-imagining our workspaces, it also in my mind reinvented leadership, right? One of the things that I publish and I talk heavily about is the role of pharma 4.0 and advanced sort of analytical constructs and the way the operations are going to be run in the future.

It has a nice illusion over there to putting people at the center of everything. So while we was talking digital or we talk efficiency, one thing that stood out for me specifically the way Giliad responded and I’m sure all the companies did as well, was they really put people at the center of the response, how are our employees feeling?

How are our patients feeling? How are, you know, this was stuff at Destin, you know, it tested us. I’d give you a very personal example. I have a seven-year and a four-year-old, my entire sort of work-life, which was so disparate, neatly carved out from my personal life. Now all blended together and, you know, finding an effective routine became next to impossible for me.

And I was incredibly lucky to work for a company that not just understood that, but expected me as a leader to be vulnerable about. And, and in the spirit that we encourage everybody around us recognize we’re all trying to make this work out. So I think are a reframing of leadership redefinition of our business processes and rethinking everything right from workspace constructs to master plan to the way operations are going to be around were the sort of three ways I sort of bucketed the way we responded. 

Jenny Hammond: It’s interesting. You say that, that, you know, as a mom, as well, myself, it’s definitely been very blurry the last several months, but I think there’ve been some wins. I mean, it sounds like there’s. Definitely been some things that your company has discovered that you’ll want to continue to do post-pandemic, and potentially even have greater satisfaction with kind of a work-life balance too, with employees. 

Joydeep Ganguly: No. Absolutely. And now I want to just restate the point that we, the company came up with this concept of leadership commitments beyond, in a way to bring this core values in life. It talks about, you know, the things like I care. I, listen, I contextualized, I lead with empathy, right?

And I think what this, what this pandemic did was it made us sort of exercise that muscle more liberally. Right. You know, and I can totally empathize with you that your story about being a mom. Right? I live in San Francisco, in the city with two kids and every reason I was in SF right now, instead of became what it’s supposed to be a blessing, or I could go to restaurants anytime I could, you know, I can stay at work as long as I want to.

Now that work’s not there, the restaurants were closed and we are stuck in a very small space with two little kids spring to the online classes. So I lost almost every source of my competitive advantage in terms of trying to get this done. And if it wasn’t for the empathy and the understanding of my team, as well as our company.

Right. So there was a lot of the, a lot of lessons learned in terms of how. And it gave us a really nice window into how people do sort of how this made people struggle quite a bit. And I think companies that stood tall that thrive where companies that not just recognize that, but actually created support systems for the teams to thrive in that.

So I know that seems to be a little bit more on the emotional spectrum of, of the responsibility for, but I 

Jenny Hammond: No. I think it’s, I think it absolutely aligns with what. We’re seeing in a lot of places. Yeah. Which a little bit of a transition here, Rob, but I think we can all relate. I know I was one of those panicked people back in March, wondering if it was not going to have enough toilet paper or disinfect it. But from toilet paper to disaffected lights, we did see a lot of disruption, especially there at the beginning of the pandemic.

What happened that caused such a strain and why were we not better prepared? 

Robert Handfield: That’s a great question, Jenny. And, and you know, I think to Joydeep’s point, everything has changed. You know, in 2010, after this SARS, H1N1 epidemic, I wrote a research report for the IBM center of government. It was called, preparing for the inevitable, how the federal government needs to prepare for the next pandemic.

I don’t think anyone read that report. Haha, it was a sec, we were completely caught unprepared, and it wasn’t just, you know, it wasn’t just paper products. It was a protein, food supply chains were completely unprepared, you know, food supply chains, but 50% is retail, 50% commercial. And when it all went to retail, when all the restaurants closed.

That whole supply chain was enabled to align. So you know, and, and it’s so weird because I was sitting in Giliad. I remember at their headquarters in, February 2020 and, no one thought for a moment that this would, this would upend the rest of the year. But I think one of the things to think about, you know, and this is what we’ve published in a recent HBR paper is how to prepare for the unexpected.

We need to have a different kind of playbook as it relates to, as Joydeep was saying, not just our human resources, how we deal with people, how we deal with work, but how we deal with the unexpected. And so I think, I like the idea of having a playbook, having a governance framework, having a plan in place.

And what we also saw is we interviewed all these different states, CPOs. And some states were better prepared than others. And we saw it and it tended to be the ones that had been through this kind of epidemic or pandemic before, whether it was, you know, a hurricane event or a critical event, or, but I think we have to be prepared for cybersecurity threats, regular terrorist threats, weather-related events, like proceeding in Texas this week or this past week, you know, that shut down a lot of the chemical facilities.

This is part of the new normal, and I think organizations need to be better prepared for the unexpected when it occurs.

Joydeep Ganguly: I really liked your point about this playbook. And I remember you being at the campus where we were discussing ironically, a security and risk roadmap.  We were talking about that but I want to go back to maybe 2010 and you’d conducted an SCRC day where you were talking about the theme of the day was black swan events and how we manage crisis management. I remember everyone was on their phone and looking at stuff and because risk is one of those things you don’t pay attention to, unless it really hits you right now. And I think one thing I have seen is companies that did have the playbook, but more importantly, that actually practice the playbook, but the playbook and practice through crisis management exercises table.

They took the tabletop exercises and actually brought the executive engagement. And that was a big lesson for us at Gilliad was to take these tabletop exercises very seriously map on what might happen, map out not about less, the focus around trying to prevent the event from happening was that’s going to happen, but how we respond to it in a methodical and structured manner. But it’s a really good point about this let’s not forget the lessons from this and let’s capture all this in an optimized playbook, that can better, you know, make us respond to the future and agile now.

Jenny Hammond: Interesting. You mentioned the risk, as you both know, we have an enterprise risk management center here in Poole Management, and we had the director, Mark Beasley, on a couple of weeks ago and he produces a report, that gets released every year for the top risk for the next year. And this year they went ahead and did one for the top 20 risks for 2030.

So thinking ahead, and I, guess, you know, Joydeep as a leader in your organization and Rob one that consults with companies across the globe. What will you be doing to help prepare that playbook for the next five, 10 years? What are some of the things in your mind that are critical? Rob? You mentioned cybersecurity, definitely a big one.

 What are some of the other things that you think now having been through this pandemic will definitely be a top priority moving forward?

Robert Handfield: I think that the number one thing that I see is, global visibility, especially non, certain critical resources. This past week I sat in on a global summit run by, Sepi, which runs the Kovacs vaccine. And one of the things that we, we talked about, you know, on this, on the summit was the idea of a global visibility system.

And the vaccine should be seen really as a utility. Because if every country doesn’t have the vaccine, then you’re going to have these bearings and the global economy will shut down. And yet when we’re on the call, it was, there was still a lot of tension, I think on the part of private sector saying we don’t want the government telling us where to, where to send their vaccines.

And yet we have this issue with ordering. You have issues where, you know, lower-cost countries that can’t afford it, medium-income countries that can’t get supplies. We have to think globally. We have to think about the benefit of the entire world and it’s difficult for people to do that.

But I think what I will say is, is I think we need to have greater partnerships between the private and public sector on regulatory issues, on vaccine-related issues. This COVID thing is not going to go away when the Us is vaccinated. We need to think globally about getting vaccines everywhere in the world. I think every organization should be thinking about that right now.

Jenny Hammond: Joydeep, less specifically, I wanted to ask you about the healthcare supply chain. You know you had a significant amount of time at Biogen before your, your role here. And Rob has spoken about this too so I know he has an opinion about it, but, but most significantly, how has this pandemic impacted our healthcare supply chain in so many ways? And can we recover and can we be better moving forward? 

 Joydeep Ganguly: It has now the healthcare industry, supply chain constructs as Rob knows well, luckily being in the healthcare space, we have a deep appreciation for supply and demand constructs, right? So we as an operations leader, one of the worst things you can do is ever on a supply, stockout is a very, very very bad word in our world. And that’s sort of a field of drove good things. And, but things that drives to the healthcare industry is better planning processes. Right? We don’t just look at demand signals from our commercial units. We had a very good safety factor. We, we have some uncertainty factors building. We take a look at, we build in stuff like volatility, not just a demand signal, but boulders are the B. You know, in our manufacturing signal in terms of ability to supply and factor all that in. And I would argue sometimes we over exceed ourselves in deep, a, more than healthy amount of inventory. And sometimes it’s, you know, companies have other problems where we have an excess and obsolescence issue because we built up so much inventory and that sort of mentality of always being safe and never being and a supply constraint will help us, right. In terms of making sure that there are two things that the pandemic has done it has put into bay. If you’ve read the news, you’re suddenly seeing this amazing amount of partnerships intercompany come across where we are an industry that often uses the fact that we have to go with a loan because of, you know, not in the research and development side where partnerships of old has been on the commercial side, but on the operations side, you know, we’ve never heard of things like sharing manufacturing capacity.

 When I was in Biogen, the executives that did some really cool things in terms of, having innovator capacities available for other companies, not actually perspective, but from an expertise perspective. So you’ve seen a lot of that collaboration and Rob alluded to that collaboration with regulators and, and industry, collaborators between the public and private bar, sort of enterprises, but there’s been a very high amount of collaboration between companies.

You talk about Novartis and Pfizer and J & J and even, you know, Gilliad, right. And we have sort of leveraged each other’s available supply both in terms of just pure manufacturing capacity, but also in terms of human resources, right. And to try and solve this pandemic problem.

Now I think you’ll see a little bit of that continue, right? I think we’ll really recognize the fact that in my own space, building gigantic facilities and blown sticks for five years. It takes, you know, north of a half, a billion dollars. You know, if you’re building something in California at the scale we do.

And, I think it’s at least informed my mindset on before we go ahead and try and build things. We really need to focus on what core capability needs to be in terms of war, what we can leverage from other partners, as we are, you know, because in the end we have to sprint to advance therapeutics and we’re trying to, to sort of, get more drugs and more innovations to patients.

And that should, I think, continue to be central to every operations executive, value agenda. 

 Jenny Hammond: Rob. Do you have any thoughts on that? 

Robert Handfield: Yeah, no, I, I agree. I think you know, having this visibility and being able to, you know, look at horizontal cooperation, I think will be important. I think that’s what we’re talking about, with, with the vaccine, I’ve got some follow on calls scheduled with, with the WTO and the ICC. And I almost feel that you need to have, you know, these third-party adjudicators to say, Hey, let’s all work together, you know, to, to address the shortfalls that we have in healthcare.

And, you know, collectively we can, we can raise the you know, raise the awareness rate, raise the health of the world. And especially when you have something with like this vaccine where if you don’t eradicate it, you’re going to get variants and it’s going to come back and these vaccines will no longer be effective.

So I think we really have to think more collectively and holistically. You know, to think about capacity, especially when you look at and our healthcare system today and access, you know, we have to be thinking about access and how we, we distribute to healthcare to everybody as well. It’s, it’s a basic human right.

There’s no question. 

Jenny Hammond: Rob looking ahead and we’re, hopefully, we all see the light at the end of the tunnel of this, but what industries do you think have the greatest risk in the next 12 to eight months. And which ones do you think will thrive? 

 Robert Handfield: So I, you know, I think, I think we’ve starting to see things come back, obviously, with the vaccine being deployed in the Us, I think healthcare will continue to thrive. I think we’ll, you know, we’ll see the energy sector start to come back as people get back in their cars and start to travel again as well.

So, so that may come back. And I think, you know, we’re also going to see, any organization that is working on, sort of, Joydeep was talking about the digital transformation. Everything now is going digital. I think we’re going to start to see, you know, the digital analytics occurring in every sector.

So if you’re any, if you’re involved in anything related to analytics, digital you know, any, anything related to the electronic sector as well, we’re going to see continued, continued growth and people, I think that have those skill sets that have the ability to work with you know, large data sets and interact with data and make decisions and, and have that those capabilities.

That’s going to be the future. I think for where the, the big next, increase in, in jobs is going to be. And as Joydeep said, it’s, you know, the human is still in the loop automation doesn’t mean that humans are no longer involved, they’re involved, but just more deeply in interacting with machines. And I think that’s going to occur across every sector, not just electronics.

Jenny Hammond: So shifting a little bit again, Joydeep, you’re an alum of the Jenkins MBA Program. Obviously, you’ve done very well since you’ve graduated from the program, but maybe share with us, you know, one to two things that were key takeaways for you from your program and your time here that have really influenced how you act as a leader and move along in your career. 

Joydeep Ganguly: Yeah. I remember a lot of time at, at Jenkins, very fondly, right? Not just because of the friends I made and the colleagues I’ve met, but I think it was, when I did the program, right. I was looking for an incredibly pragmatic, practical and impactful way of applying what was seemingly complex management theory to sort of my work at hand, those days, I just joined Biogen and, you know, I think the two things that stands out for me with what I learned from my time there was the sort of, you know, the practicum approach of everything we did, right. It had to be applied. We rarely did things that were just, we laughed, Harry, we learn economic theory. We learn, you know, I think Rob responsed to supply chain theory, two classes, but we focused on things like, how do you apply that to a problem at John Deere?

How do we apply this to a problem in Caterpillar? So there was this deep appreciation for taking, you know, what was, very very esoteric content and applying it for a practical problem at hand. So I, I really remember that fondly. The second thing about Jenkins that I also remember not just remember fondly, I’m actually living this is, you know, I’ve maintained connections, right? And I think those were few things that I remember very, very fondly.

Jenny Hammond: Well, and Rob too, you, you have a unique perspective in your role as the director of the supply chain resource cooperative. You meet with industry all the time. What are you hearing as you know, the, the skills that we are or need to be teaching our students for jobs that we don’t even know exist yet. What are you hearing?

 Robert Handfield: Well, I, I think you hit the nail on the head you know, jobs we don’t even know will exist yet. I, I think one of the things that, our students learn, at NC State and in Poole is by engaging with industry, you know, they’re dropped into a situation where they know nothing about that industry. In many cases, you know, they’ve never worked in that field.

And they’re given a problem that they knew nothing about. And I think there’s something called learning agility, which is really important. And it’s that ability to quickly size up a problem, you know, establish the parameters, established the scope of the problem, and then dive in and start looking at data.

And, and start understanding the nature of the problem and engaging, you know, having, having the ability to engage with people on a weekly basis. You know, knowing how to use Zoom, knowing how to run a meeting, knowing how to run an agenda. These are basic skills that are absolutely critical.

And we see that companies that come to us are saying, we want people who can dive in, who can take these difficult unstructured, complex problems and dive in and figure out how to, how to solve them using data, using analytics using supply chain mapping using, and, and it requires a certain curiosity. I mean, you have to be enthusiastic. You have to be a bit audacious to jump into some of these problems and you have to, and you, you know, you really have to persevere. Because as anyone knows who’s done any kind of work with analytics or projects, the answer doesn’t pop out at you, you hit a lot of dead ends.

You have to keep going back and trying new things and innovative. And that’s what innovation is all about. It really is about trying to solve difficult problems with, with new approaches. And I think that’s, that’s what we teach in our program, which really. You know, stands us apart. And, and the other thing that stands us apart is we work with schools across campus.

I don’t know any other business school that has as much engagement with industrial engineering and computer science, agriculture, sciences, you know, we, we work with people from poultry science, you know, they’re from all over the campus. And that really enhances the mix of skills that we bring to the table. our employers

Joydeep Ganguly: On that point. Right. And that’s something that I probably was inarticulately trying to make on the previous one was I think the access to having these multi-disciplinary skills, in a team is unique. Like I rarely go to Rob or ask for, I need five MBA students. I’m like Rob this to the problem I’m trying to solve.

You know, and he’s like, well, you really need an or person he’ll, you need someone with the advanced math degree or you need a bomb, you know? Someone with a deeper appreciation for things like risks, right or it might be something even more just basic, like, you know what you’re having Jordy, because a communications issue with this, the problem right now, let’s get some little marketing teams together to talk about how you simplify the overall message across this.

Right. You know, and I think that is a very sort of healthy and a unique construct that you know, really attracts industry to things like programs like the SERC is being able to tap into a very interdisciplinary focus. Nothing in our industry really gets done with just a peel and operations of needs with a biologist, you know, uni-focused approach. Right. So I think that’s something I’ve really appreciated. 

Jenny Hammond: If I’m hearing correctly too from the both of you, especially post-pandemic, vulnerability and empathy are two skills that certainly will, are necessary moving forward, too. Right. Just to be able to communicate how that, how things have impacted you and be able to share that with others. 

Okay. So we have one question left and it’s for both of you. We talk a lot about thinking do Rob, you mentioned this earlier here at NC State and the Poole College Management, how important is it to you in your opinion that students have that hands-on experience before they enter industry?

And I guess I would go first with Joydeep and then maybe Rob, how important is it to make sure students get the experience? 

Joydeep Ganguly: I think it’s a, it’s a very valuable component right. I’m going to try and avoid giving a digital answer to this question, right. Because, you know, I think Rob has a very cool word that I think stands out is curiosity. Right. You know, things, when I look for, when I hire people, as you know, I don’t sort of, or on just if you’ve got hands-on experience, you have great.

Or if you don’t have, you’re not. I think if you’re curious about why things are the way they are and why they can’t be improved upon. Right. That’s a phenomenal sort of trait. And I think the thing can do actually spurs, curiosity, right? Because I think if you take a look at it and I go back to my seven-year-old trial and my four-year-old with kids, they learn more from actual experimentation, their entire life, right.

And others experimented with everything. Right. And I think the notion around being able to apply and learn from, a very, hands-on experimentation is, has been proven to be a phenomenal way of not just, driving innovation, but actually peaking curiosity. Right. So to the extent that it’s a phenomenal enabler.

To, a curious mindset and then you’re able to it’s a giant thing of joy, right? To have a thesis, to have hypotheses tested out. If it doesn’t work you know, you get a bit frustrated and then you reiterate and it’s just amazing. Right. And I think, so to that end, it’s a really important part.

And I think you know, you can always, when you’ve been I’m interviewing students fresh out of college, right. You can also see a sense of confidence in them when they’ve actually tried and applied something, right. Because they’ve actually seen their workplace. So I think on those two dimensions, I think having this sort of practical experience is incredibly important.

Jenny Hammond: And Rob, from your perspective, as someone who’s teaching in the classroom, how, how important is it for you to incorporate that into your curriculum? 

Robert Handfield: Well, I think it’s, it’s, you know it’s absolutely critical that students have that experience. I’ve had students come to me and said, I never learned more than I ever have. My entire, you know, MBA or undergraduate career. Then when I took this practicum class and, and I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing so many of our ICRC partners stick around, you know, we’ve had you know, Joydeep was at Biogen.

That was a partner. And still as a partner, you know, Giliad is a partner. , We had people, you know, go from company to company and continue to stick with the SERC. Tom Nash was at ministry and now at the American Red Cross Duke Caterpillar and Deere have all been partners for more than 20 years.

And they stick around because they want that influx of new talent of young people who are coming in and just looking at a problem differently. And you know, NC state we’re, we’re kind of unique. We did a benchmark study. And we were the only one of the top 15 supply chain schools, in the gardener study that does this number of different projects with companies.

And we really believe it’s you know, the real benefit, the essence of learning occurs through that experience. And I think it’s also one of the reasons why we’re starting to see, more and more companies come to places like RTP you know, I was at a company Apogen this week, it’s a new fill finish facility that’s opening here in RTP. You know, Gilliad is opening a new office here as well. And Joydeep you can talk about that and we’re seeing more and more companies come here. And one of the reasons they all say it is we want the intellectual capital. We want the young people coming out of these schools.

And that’s viewed as, you know, a critical resource today. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re going to be having I think more and more companies come to the RTP area for the intellectual capital that’s available in these, these schools.

Jenny Hammond: [00:28:25] I lied. I have one more question for Joydeep. So I’ve asked this before for a couple of other guests, and I think it’s always fascinating to hear a response. Looking back when you were 21 and knowing what you know now what would you have told your 21-year-old self about how things turned out and would you do anything differently or give yourself some advice? 

Joydeep Ganguly: Absolutely, right. You always have this, you know, when I was 21, I thought I was indestructible. Right. And I was like I think the advice I would actually give my 21-year-old self was the comment. I started all this podcast with, right. Don’t get so you know, don’t get so hung up on just trying to develop yourself in one or two dimensions.

Right. I was very hot. Like I was a results-oriented to almost a fault. Right. I believed to know everything could be solved by reducing it to a math equation. Right. I mean, my first 10 years of my life was all right. Rob jokes with me. So the first 10 years of your life or career, all your publications were on analytics and digital, et cetera.

The last 10 years, it’s all been around inclusion and other role of good social responsibility in your entire value engine. And, and I did recognize the importance of those things, right? I mean, I’m part of the. Remit I also have within my company is to help with the ESG stuff specifically in environmental sustainability.

And I don’t do it purely because of social activism. That’s a misnomer. We do it because good social responsibility is very good business. Right. And I think having a more sort of you know, just well-rounded and obviously you caught me with the 21, you know, if you’re thinking about, do, do, do learn, learn, learn, and get as much, much things what I will say, one piece of advice, and if, if it helped other people listening to this is actually surround yourself with, with amazing mentors and advocates. Right? The one thing I did do well was I always gravitated towards people and not just you know, made me curious about new topics, but also you know, taught me, right, do you want to be surrounded by just mostly I’m going back to school this year.

Not because I want to, you know, this things I haven’t done is I really feel that this academic industry sort of collaboration and partnership allows the best things that happened. There are things I still need to learn. There’s still things I need to do. And, it’s just a great sort of way of, of developing one’s career.

So, so already have mentors always be curious you know, don’t stress about the small stuff. Things will work out and you know, I’m hoping now I haven’t been reflecting back and thinking of the advice I give the 21-year-old, right. I’m in my early forties right now. I’m like, if you asked me this question 20 years from now what advice would I give myself today?

Right. , but a lot of it, I think, is just, you know, having more of a well-rounded approach to us life in general, right? If the pandemic showed us something that, you know, one thing, right, is that, you know, everyone’s human. There are people. I love what Rob said. You can’t RPA automate every aspect of your life to the point where, you know, it’s a robotic way of, of living is, you know, how, but people at the center, you know, nurture relationships, you know, you know, enjoy life.

Right. And I think, and have fun at what you do. Find a job that we have so much fun, right. That it’s not a job. It’s actually something that you enjoy doing. So I know it was a deeply philosophical answer, I’m hoping. 

Jenny Hammond: No, I love it. I love it. I love it. And I, I have to say, I think it’s really very special that you and Rob have this relationship. Right? I mean, we talk about this often, but the fact that, you know, you continue to collaborate with each other far after you have graduated. I think that’s really unique. And yes, as cheesy as it may sounds, it really does live out the kind of think and do spirit of NC State and Poole. So, thank you both for coming today. I know you’re extremely busy. I know you both have a lot of things going on in your world, but to make some time for this and just share some of your insights and some feedback on, obviously happening to the pandemic, but also just some great feedback for our students and young alumni, I know will be well received.

So thanks so much. 

Joydeep Ganguly: My pleasure.

Robert Handfield: Thanks.

About the Poole Podcast

The Poole Podcast is a think and do conversation about the relationship between academics and industry. Each episode will share research and ideas from inside the classroom from our incredible NC State faculty and explore how it’s being translated into practice. Released every two weeks on Monday.