#09: Swati Patil Rao, Senior Director – Head of APAC Supply Chain & Logistics at Zoetis Inc.

About Swati Patil Rao:

Swati Patil Rao is currently the APAC Head of Supply Chain and Logistics for Zoetis, world’s largest producer of medication and vaccinations for animals.

Swati brings in 20 year of extensive experience managing diverse aspects of supply chain from site planning to demand forecasting, new product introductions to new Distribution Centre start-ups, regional supply chains to global franchise management, operating own warehouses to setting up 3PL operations, to name a few. However, what Swati is most passionate about is building high performing teams, nurturing teams and grooming leaders.

Prior to Zoetis, Swati spent 14+ years with Procter & Gamble working both in India and Singapore.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.

Connect with the Guest:

Swati Patil Rao: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Driving force that made Swati a successful leader
  • How to have a cohesive team and facing challenges together
  • Learning and developing teams in midsize organizations
  • Being a successful woman leader in the supply chain 
  • One change that Swati made in her professional life that had the most impact in her career journey
  • Most important soft and technical skill for a professional to get into senior level leadership roles
  • How to have an exciting career

Show notes:

  • [1:31] What has been your driving force which has made you successful as a leader within the supply chain space?
  • [1:57] There has been a village that has helped me come this far. The teams that I have been part of, the teams that I lead, my managers and mentors, and the strong role models and women managers who inspired me.
  • [3:01] How do you set up teams which are cohesive and able to face challenges together? Maybe share with us some practical examples of what you’ve done?
  • [3:23] So the first part of having a cohesive team is building a team. So having that clarity on why we are all together. Our ways may be different but our destination is the same and that is cohesiveness. When it comes to preparing them for challenges, I think that the journey starts even before the challenges come. You cannot be building the bridge when you are already crossing the river, you have to prepare for it earlier. 
  • [8:35] Most midsize organizations do not have huge learning and development teams or HR support. How do you do colleague development in such situations? 
  • [9:28] Once we were able to establish a reliable system, we realized that to be able to have continued growth we have to focus on learning and development.
  • [12:26] What worked for you as a woman in a male-dominated industry to be so successful in the supply chain?
  • [14:57] I would say this whole journey is about where you start from. Where I am today is actually about discovering things in phases. What I can do and what I need to do to make those choices, and how I can get support and the whole village around me to keep growing and keep developing.
  • [15:53] What was one change you made in your professional life, whether it’s about stopping or starting something, which you feel had the most impact in your career journey?
  • [16:12] The one thing which I think has significantly changed me is moving away from talking to listening more.
  • [17:27] Which skills, both technical and soft skills, would you think are most important for a professional to get into senior level leadership roles?
  • [17:55] The most important soft skill for me is agility, communication, and the ability to pick up the right information and piece it all together. For technical skills, having domain expertise is very important and knowing what you are doing in the area that you are in and second is building that business acumen.
  • [20:59] What advice would you give to people entering the workforce to be able to have an exciting career like yourself?
  • [21:46] The destination is important but you have to enjoy the journey. I think it is important to have that curious mindset,intentionally explore, and explore very openly because that is where you will discover what you are really capable of.

Related Episodes:

#06: Agnes Goh, Talent Acquisition Vice President, SAPMENA at L’Oréal

#07: Anjali Menon, Regional Head of Talent Center of Competence for APAC and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nestlé

#08: Carlos Torres, Leadership and Talent Senior Director at ASM

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