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Phani Sista
Instock Manager
(ZLOG Class of 2011)

1. Describe your current job responsibilities
I’m currently working with the product management team at Amazon EU’s Kindle business group as an Instock Manager. My team is responsible for generating demand for Kindle devices and accessories in all of the European marketplaces. My job is to make sure that once the demand has been generated for our products, it is fulfilled completely. On the demand side, I work with planners and product managers to plan demand for all SKU’s across all our marketplaces and on the Supply side, I create and communicate production & procurement plans to our contract manufacturers and vendors. I’m also a part of the core launch team that plans and executes strategies to introduce new products in new/existing markets.

2. Describe your career path before you attended ZLOG
Before joining ZLOG, I was a Manager with Deloitte Consulting and worked on supply chain transformation projects for Fortune 500 clients. On these projects, I led requirements analysis, fit-gap analysis, Conference Room Pilot demos and functional design for supply chain solutions in the functional areas of Supply Chain Planning, Warehouse Management and Sourcing & Procurement.

3. Why did you decide to attend ZLOG?
Having observed supply chain trends evolve over the last decade, during my stint in SC Consulting, I realized that most of my knowledge on the subject was self-taught and that there were holes in my understanding of the discipline. To plug those holes, acquire a broad set of tools that would allow me to become a more mature, seasoned supply chain professional and to prepare myself for a larger role in global supply chain organizations, I decided to enrol in an academic program that imparted a holistic, well-rounded view of the discipline. The ZLOG program, as I discovered, was a highly specialized program that was tailored to meet my academic expectations.

4. What are the most valuable assets you gained through your ZLOG experience?
My biggest take-aways from the ZLOG program were:

  • Perspective: Supply Chain Management was not just about executing operations well. During the program, as we analyzed dozens of cases and engaged with industry partners as a part of our thesis project, I realized that it could actually serve as an important strategic weapon and become a source of competitive advantage for organizations striving to succeed amidst cut-throat competition.
  • Sound Academic Foundation: The problem solving / decision making tools acquired during the program sharpened my managerial intuition and equipped me with techniques to analyze real life supply chain problems, identify solutions, present and defend them.
  • Professional Network: Having been a part of a class that came from diverse backgrounds (cultural and professional) and with strong interaction with our colleagues from MIT, I now have access to a professional network that will hold me in good stead for the rest of my active professional life.

5. How did your ZLOG degree impact your job search?
The MIT brand association, on the one hand, helped me get job interviews from several respected multinationals from diverse industries and opened new doors for my career. The depth of supply chain skills acquired during the program, on the other hand, helped me convert those opportunities into final offers.

6. Does your ZLOG education affect the way you currently do your job?
I have been able to directly transfer the lessons learned at ZLOG to my current role at Amazon. To be more specific, I’ve actually taken some of the inventory / financial models built as a part of my course assignments and applied them at work.

7. What would you say to a prospective student thinking about joining the ZLOG program?
Here’s my 2 cents to all prospective supply chain professionals looking for an academic program that would help them transition into the big league: Generic MBA programs, while being a great learning experience, may not help you differentiate yourself from the thousands of MBA’s graduating every year and position you uniquely in the job market. If you’re truly passionate about supply chain management and are looking for a long and rewarding career in the field, think about a specialized program like ZLOG to help hone your analytical / business skills and deepen your understanding of the function. It’s an extremely intense and demanding program but at the end of it all you may find out, as many of us have, it’s well worth the effort.