Thompson Rivers University

Business alum Abhishek Naik on navigating the supply chain

February 1, 2022

Supply chain management major Abhishek Naik is a supply planner for a national grocer.

By Brynn Roach

The concept of change is all too familiar to 2019 business alum and supply chain management major, Abhishek Naik.

From immigrating to Kamloops in 2017, to managing inventory for a leading grocer in Canada, Naik’s journey has hinged on resilience and his ability to adapt.

Throughout his personal life and career, he’s developed a knack for managing uncertainty and seizing opportunity.

As a supply planner with Save-On-Foods, Naik’s responsibilities fall into two of the most coveted household items: ice cream and frozen entrées like pizza.

Although there’s no questioning their value in our kitchens, both products offer unique challenges that keep Naik on his toes. Namely, navigating seasonal demand and unforeseen supply chain disruptions that threaten the integrity of each product.

Managing inventory for retail supply chains is complex—adding a frozen element to the commodities you’re responsible for adds a new layer of considerations and challenges.

Building resilience

As a supply planner, Naik’s responsibility is to maintain inventory at two warehouses in BC and Alberta.

“It’s my job to stock both warehouses so that stores can pull from the inventory when needed,” he says. Despite dealing with the same goods month after month, the planning considerations for both change drastically depending on the season. Fluctuating demands and changes in weather mean Naik’s job is highly dynamic.

“The approach is different during the summer than it is in the winter,” he says. Although seasonality impacts each differently—ice cream sales increase in the summer, pizza in the winter—his job is particularly busy during the holidays.

“People need everything before Christmas and they don’t want to wait,” says Naik.

Last December, he and his colleagues faced the added challenge of extreme weather events as flooding led to highway closures, impacting trucking roots and in turn, Naik’s ability to get inventory into the warehouses.

A few months earlier, the province was still recovering from a devastating fire season that created similar challenges for supply chain planners across BC.

Extreme weather events have only added to the complexities of Naik’s job, underlining the importance of resiliency—a concept that he returns to time and time again.

Naik recalls working on a class project about supply chain resilience in a course with Dr. Nancy Southin, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics.

“If everything falls apart, how do you get things back together in a supply chain?” says Naik, noting that he’s revisited this process and his project at TRU several times over the past two years.

How do you pivot? What’s the process? How do you make a plan? These are all essential questions that Naik and his team work through on a daily basis.

“As supply planners, you always need to be prepared for everything to go wrong.”

Staying motivated through learning

Despite the challenges Naik has faced over the past year, he remains enthusiastic about what he does.

The key to his positive outlook? Staying energized and invested in the industry, and making sure he’s surrounded by good people.

When asked about advice to students, Naik delivers a piece of wisdom with applications across professional and personal lines.

“Be a sponge. During your time as a student, get in as many experiences as you can—you’re going to use them at some point in your life.”

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