Obinna Nwodo: Managing Supply Chain to Increase Efficiency, Customer Satisfaction 

Obinna Nwodo is a Supply Chain Professional and the founder of the Young Supply Chain Professionals, YSCP, community in Nigeria. His role involves managing supply chain activities to increase efficiencies, improve customer satisfaction, and stand out from competitors. In an interview with MARY NNAH, Nwodo shares his expertise, strategies, and perspectives as a Supply Chain expert

Supply chain management is a multifaceted field that requires a comprehensive understanding of its scope. Could you please provide a detailed overview of what it entails for the benefit of the layman?

Supply chain management is a complex field that involves coordinating the flow of materials or services from the manufacturer to the customer. It encompasses several stakeholders and processes, including requirement planning, procurement (buying), logistics (movement), and storage.

Your profile suggests that you specialise in strategic procurement and inventory optimisation. What was the attraction? Could you elaborate on your expertise in this area?

Well, initially I wanted to be a core logistics guy. But after a while, I felt it was too “field” for me. I just wanted to do office things. And of course, procurement and inventory optimization gave me that. I know that no matter what, I’d be playing in the supply chain.

As someone who has taken an interest in this profession, what specialised skills have you acquired to become well-versed in the field?

To do procurement, you need to have a lot of skills that cut across strategy, process adherence, administration and technology. Skills like risk management, data analytics, negotiation and IT tool proficiency are where ERPs and software productivity suites come in. You also need soft skills that ensure you can manage key internal and external stakeholders. Very important.

Growing up did you have role models that influenced your career path?

I won’t say I had any role models in the supply chain because I didn’t. When I was doing my first degree, I went for industrial training during one of the semesters and had my first exposure to procurement and I saw the same thing during my NYSC service year. So I picked it up and was trying to understand it. Then one day, my Dad was speaking to me and he said, “Do you know about supply chain and logistics?”. After that, I just made up my mind and said I was going to do this. And from there, it’s been a very intentional journey in procurement and supply chain

How long have you been involved in inventory planning and management, and what has been your experience so far? Do you operate as an individual or a company?

I have been in inventory management for more than 8 years. I got my first exposure during my first job to concepts like FIFO- First In, First Out, safety stocks, Minimum Order Quantity, Reorder levels etc. It further deepened when I worked in a warehouse in Manchester as an Inventory Supervisor and coordinated the automation process for the items. We went to reduce dispatch errors by 50%. Today, I do more inventory optimization than management or control and this is because I work as a Procurement Manager

What is your academic background, and if you were not involved in supply chain management, what other field would you have pursued?

I started at Apata Memorial Nursery and Primary School. Then I went to Kings College, Lagos. Yes, I’m part of the men that shout Floreat! Then I went to the University of Lagos for my first degree and my second degree was from the University of Salford Manchester. That’s where I got my master’s in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Who is qualified to be considered a supply chain professional? What skills are essential for success in supply chain management and what are their responsibilities in this field? 

A supply chain professional is someone who practices in the supply chain field and possesses degrees or certifications in procurement, logistics or supply chain. To work in a supply chain you can be many things which include but are not limited to Demand planning, logistics management, category management, procurement management, inventory and warehouse management, Order fulfilment, operations management, manufacturing and production, last mile logistics, customer success management, sustainability and after-sales management.

A lot of skills are required to be a successful supply chain manager but I’d mention a few like negotiation and contracts, data analysis, stakeholder management, market insights and intelligence, time management, project management, operational planning, research and strategy, cost and spend analysis.

What may not necessarily be a “skill” but is crucial for success in the supply chain is emotional intelligence. This is because it was very tough and can be demanding with very high expectations.

Can you provide insight into the Young Supply Chain Professionals (YSCP) community of Nigeria? What is the group’s purpose, and why was it established?

The Young Supply Chain Professionals (YSCP) community of Nigeria is the fastest growing Young Professional Community in Nigeria with members from all sectors and across many industries who are well mentored to position the supply chain as the heartbeat for 21st century business success with the vision of becoming the cynosure for supply chain excellence in Nigeria. It was established because I felt that there was a big gap between the entry-level guys and senior-level executives in the supply chain. So we launched to bridge the gap and so far we’ve had private and public sector engagements and also assisted many professionals to secure fantastic jobs.

As the founder of this group, how much of an impact do you think your activities as a supply chain professional have had on businesses and the nation’s economic growth in general?

I know a lot of young professionals are watching and I cannot fall their hand. So I just be myself. I’m naturally a value-oriented person so it’s not difficult to get into character. From the partnerships we’ve built, to the events we’ve organised, both scholarly and social by the way, to job creation, and a lot of probono work for different sectors, we have contributed immensely to the social and economic well being of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in our little way even though some of it can’t be quantified.

What are some of the current trends in supply chain management that need to be applied to ensure successful business operations?

Supply chains are getting more complex by the day. The best way to maintain resilience is through the adoption of technology and data-driven processes. These will actualise deepened knowledge for AI adoption, IoT, Robotics, augmented reality and sustainable solutions.

What are the essential elements of inventory planning and management?

Inventory management is an integral part of supply chain management. This is because inventory is assets that directly affect the bottom line. The key elements here include demand forecasting, supplier availability and planning, purchase transparency, safety stock management, warehouse management systems, data entry and analysis and stock reconciliation.

What are some of the primary challenges of navigating this profession successfully? Additionally, what was your most challenging moment in a supply chain role, and how did you resolve it?

Procurement and Supply Chain is tough but it’s the engine of every business whether we like it or not. High-flying companies are those that compete in their supply chains. There are probably a million challenges we currently face, but one notable example is price volatility caused by high inflation or FX fluctuations. A very strategic way to curb these sorts of price volatility is to sign fixed long-term contracts. The only advice will be to create a buffer to accommodate these price increases. The supplier will then be expected to strategically leverage bulk purchases and partnerships to fulfil the terms and scope of the contract. This way a win-win position has been created. In the case of unexpected circumstances where either party wants to declare a force majeure, then the rules of termination may apply.

Apart from fixed contracts, I have also used the best alternative strategy called BATNA. This is an analytical approach to tweaking a BOQ or purchase requisition since the conditions for the previous can’t be met. The most important descriptions are outlined and sourced so in the end, the alternative still works pretty well

In situations where warehouse shipments are unexpectedly delayed, what measures do you take to address the situation?

When shipments are delivered? Well, I think it should always be expected so proactive mitigative strategies should always be in place. The first thing to do here is to communicate with all stakeholders so that they are aware. Here, the guide will be an escalation matrix. Then the exact location of the shipment should be determined and the new estimated time of delivery. After this, safety stock can be activated.

How do you handle cost efficiency, and what is your process for managing it?

Cost efficiency today tilts towards Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Let me give you an example from an article I wrote. Imagine you want to purchase a car. Option A is N1000 and Option B is N1500. You immediately think that going for Option A gives you an N500 cost saving right? It does at that time but Option A needs N100 monthly for fuel and maintenance and Option B needs N40. By the end of one year, you would have spent N2,200 on Option A and N1,980 on Option B. By the end of the second year, you would have saved more than N900 if you went for Option B. So you see, focusing on unit cost alone isn’t always a sustainable way to determine cost efficiency. It has to be end-to-end and even factor in possible revenues.

What does the future hold for supply chain professionals in Nigeria, particularly for young people?

Very bright future I must confess. More and more organisations are creating positions for strategic supply chain and procurement professionals now. Technology is also changing the game and this is where the younger generation comes in. I also believe that for a country to work then we need to get this supply chain thing right. It’s not only master scheduling with mix and volume now, it’s everything. It’s the system. We desperately need this.


More and more organisations are creating positions for strategic supply chain and procurement professionals now. Technology is also changing the game and this is where the younger generation comes in. I also believe that for a country to work then we need to get this supply chain thing right

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