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Tarun Rai Khurana: The Supply Chain Management Maestro

He is a versatile C-level strategic supply chain & procurement professional with 21 years of dynamic experience. He has effectively handled SCM process of all the companies he has worked in and continues to deliver on the great standards he has set for himself. He is seen as an expert in this field.

Meet Tarun Rai Khurana, a determined and passionate leader and the Head of Purchase & Supply Chain Management (Asst. Vice President) at Chemicals Business of UFlex limited.

Tarun has risen to every challenge enthusiastically, which has created opportunities for The Chemicals Business of UFlex to make its supply chain fast and dependent. He has helped the company stay true to its roots and deliver world-class experience to all its clients.

We at Insights Success caught up with Tarun to learn about his journey and how he is driving the growth of UFlex.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at UFlex Limited. What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

A law graduate & post-graduation in management, I started my career in 2001 as a Management Trainee (MT) with one of the prestigious companies ‘Jubilant Ingrevia’ in Supply Chain department. As a part of my career progression plan, I got an opportunity to work in different verticals of SCM that is Planning, Logistics, Commercials, and Purchase. After spending seven years with Jubilant, I took an assignment in global material sourcing with Ranbaxy Laboratories, India’s biggest generic drug company. My next assignment was with a fortune 500 US MNC Avery Dennison as Head Purchase of their India & South Africa business. Later, I got an opportunity to work for the regional purchasing team (Asia) of Avery Dennison as Senior. Category Manager, which really helped me to improve on creativity, drive innovation, local market knowledge etc. Thereafter, I joined another Fortune 500 company Valvoline Cummins as Purchasing Leader for India operation.

It has beenan exciting journey so far where I witnessed global recession during 2008-09, highly volatile crude oil pricing, supply uncertainty due to geopolitical issues, COVID-19 & issues related to it (availability of shipping space, port congestions, difficult demand forecasting, large number of plant force majeure worldwide, material scarcity due to ‘dual-control’ policy implementation by China). Every challenge has created an opportunity for the organization & helped us to strengthen our supply chain robust & reliable.

Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.

UFlex is India’s largest flexible packaging company and a global leader in polymer sciences with a turnover of over US$1.75 billion. UFlex Chemical business, its inks and adhesives arm focusses on introducing eco-friendly, sustainable, food safe compliant Inks, adhesives & Coatings and biodegradable packaging solutions which are eco-friendly with lower carbon footprint.

The Chemicals Business of UFlex manufactures the finest quality printing inks, laminating adhesives for flexible packaging, specialty inks and coatings for flexible packaging, folding & mono cartons and labels industry. As a printing ink manufacturing company, UFlex Chemicals has taken a sizable presence in the Polyester Polyol business, which is primarily used for footwear, flexible and rigid foam Industry.

Vision & Mission of the organization-

Vision- “Be a leading company and preferred supplier for providing innovative and sustainable flexible packaging solutions to customers across the world thus maximizing value for all our stakeholders”

Mission- “To meet customers’ dynamic packaging needs by providing innovative, productive, cost-effective, and responsible eco-friendly packaging solutions that meets customers brands goals, improves consumers daily lives and makes the planet plastic-waste free.

Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the Logistics & Supply Chain niche through your expertise in the market?

I am fortunate to get opportunities for working with manufacturing organizations operating in Business to Business (B to B) & Business to Consumer (B to C) segments. Both the segments have its unique requirements & challenges like customer retention, building trust, demand volatility, skill shortage & digitalization in B to B. Whereas, B to C has large & complex supply chain network, high number of customers, customer relationship management

In the current uncertain scenario, we identified risk for all the functions of the supply chain (PPC, Purchase & Logistic), evaluate the existing controls in place & additional plans to mitigate these risks. Periodic reviews along with team really helped to be successful during this challenging period.

Apart from the above processes, automation of the existing process, having a close eye on market dynamics, clear communication to team and internal/ external stakeholders and the ability to get the best from the team members is a differentiator.

What, according to you, could be the next big change in the Supply Chain industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

In the current modern era, the supply chain continues to evolve rapidly, keeping pace with the breakneck technological advancements. It can be difficult for supply chain & business leaders to stay on top of these changes. It’s crucial to do so if we want to maintain the integrity of our supply chain and see business succeed. Rather than treading on the heels of change, your organization should try to get ahead of the trends that are shaping the future of supply chain management.

I think there will be more focus on supply chain sustainability, Risk management (360-degree approach) and supply chain agility & resilience. To address these changes, we have worked on improved visibility within supply chain so that appropriate actions can be taken in time. Also, we have certified Risk Management System (ISO 31000:2018) in place to deal with uncertainties. For agility & resilience, we are continuously working on following:

  • Strengthening supply chain planning function to forecast supply and demand better
  • Alternative Sourcing Strategies
  • Improve supply chain visibility and
  • Digitalization of processes

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for Uflex Chemical division?

I hope to advance in my role as much as possible. I love this industry and think it is the right choice for me long term. I want to continue working in a collaborative environment where every employee can thrive. I see my ideas making a bigger positive impact on the company, and I will use my communication and leadership skills to make this happen.

Following are our priorities for Uflex chemicals:

  • Customer-centric supply chain- improvement of customer experience. Build supply chains that put customer first.
  • Ethical Supply Chain- it incorporates employees’ rights and environmental concerns, with sustainability a top priority across the supply chain & reduction of dangerous emission, waste of raw materials.
  • The right technology- selection of right technology as what got you here won’t get you there.
  • A workforce for the future- Rapid workforce hiring and reskilling will be critical organizational success factors.
  • Data-driven decisions- Approach decision-making as a business discipline enabled with analytics technology.
  • Micro supply chains- Get closer to our customers with decentralized, agile ‘mini operating models’, with flexible supplier contracts and relationships, and manufacturing closer to the point of purchase.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Supply Chain sector?

Always put customer first, create value & learn to know when to step down.