Alumni Success Story: César Camargo, ZLOG 2020 and Manager Strategic Procurement at Altera Infrastructure. See profile on Linkedin
Flicking through your resume, we find a supply chain professional with 15 years of international experience across multiple industries and countries such as Netherlands, UK, Dubai, Australia, Spain and Norway – do you embrace the change of lifestyle, or is this also a challenge for you?
My first international experience was an exchange program during my law and business degree. Since then, not only have I embraced this lifestyle, but I have even become addicted to the challenges and opportunities of living in a foreign country. Moving overseas pushes you away from your comfort zone and forces you to adapt to new ways of living and working. Besides, there are a lot of positive emotions associated with the relocation as there is a general sense of excitement that lasts for a year or two until your life eventually settles down.
Looking back on these international experiences, how has this impacted on the quality and expertise you display in your work?
Most of us in Supply Chain operate in a global world, thus the skills developed by travelling and living overseas are an important asset in the workplace. In my opinion, the exposure to international experiences mainly influences your soft skills and particularly the ability to deal with other people.
Today, in my current role, I am running projects across Scandinavia and Brazil, two completely different cultures. Soon I realized that one size does not fit all, thus I customized the method, style and, sometimes, even my own behavior in an effort to adapt it to each working group.
Your career path comes across as both intense and high-flying. What prompted you to, effectively, “go back to school” and study the MIT Zaragoza Master of Engineering in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (ZLOG) in Spain?
Prior joining ZLC, I was working in Australia for 12 years and, in my last role, I had a comfortable position as a public servant. I would confess that putting on hold my professional career to become a full-time student was something that I didn’t take lightly. There were mainly two reasons that triggered my decision:
Professionally, after working in several roles and industries, I realized that I still had technical gaps in my knowledge of Supply Chain which I was not going to fulfill in my day-to-day job. As I wanted to progress into larger and bigger roles, it was clear to me that a postgraduate diploma specialized in Supply Chain would help me to achieve this goal.
The second motivation was mainly personal. At the time I submitted my application to ZLC, our daughter was about to turn 5 years old. My wife and I decided that we wanted to get closer to our families in Europe, so we both agree that studying for a master in Zaragoza was a good pathway to get opportunities in Europe.
Overall, the experience of getting “back to school” was intimidating but the preparation for the GMAT test was a great way to get back to the study routine, and get math skills back in shape.
What are the main learnings you brought from your year in ZLC?
In terms of learnings, the year at ZLC is like drinking from the water hose. You need to be disciplined to absorb as much as you possible can. I would summarize the learning from ZLC in three:
- The ability to manage intense workload. The master is structured to progressively increase your workload, so you develop the skill and capacity to manage the pressure and be effective with your time to deliver short- and long-term projects in parallel.
- Problem solving. Solving complex supply chain problems in class or in your thesis project, structure your thinking and develop a systematic logic in your way of thinking. This is an important skill that will help you manage supply chain problems and even more importantly explain them to colleagues in other disciplines to win their confidence and trust.
- During my masters, I tried to work with most of my cohort. This was both an opportunity and a challenge, as we all had different working styles. In my current role, this learning has helped me to develop good working relationships with all the departments and stakeholders that I deal with.
Finally, besides being an intense year, I keep great memories of having fun with my peers, visiting the MIT, attending master classes delivered from great professional such as Spyros, Alejandro, Gultekin… and living in the beautiful city of Zaragoza, of course.
For a couple of years now, you have a settled way of life in Norway working as Manager Strategic Procurement at Altera Infrastructure, a leading global energy infrastructure services group. What to date has been your biggest challenge? Is there a project that you feel especially proud of?
Initially, I joined the company as a project manager to manage a supply chain optimization. 6 months after, I was promoted to a bigger role as a Manager of Strategic Procurement and lead a group of multicultural supply chain professionals from Norway, Scotland, Germany and Brazil. This promotion was effective while I relocated with my family to Trondheim (Norway) so handling all this changes at the same time was probably one the biggest challenges.
Currently, I have a very diverse role and have been lucky enough to be exposed to many different projects. If I were to pick my biggest achievement, I would say that I feel particularly proud of breaking internal walls within the organization to position our Supply Chain Team into areas where the team was previously perceived as low value adding. I’m particularly proud of making Supply Chain a key influencer in the process of winning new business and becoming part of the commercial and risk process of bidding. Our recent involvement in this area has also opened doors for the Supply Chain team to increase our profile and become a key player in the project execution.
Would you recommend ZLOG in Zaragoza Logistics Center to those who are currently considering the possibility of applying?
A master in ZLOG will make you an expert in Supply Chain and put you in an advantageous position to understand, scope and solve complex supply chain issues across any organization.
Besides, Zaragoza is a great place to life in. It is a medium-sized city, easy to move around, and affordable, which is something to consider when you are a full-time student.
My recommendation for future applicants: Rest before the master, be open for the challenge, and enjoy the ride. It is a great experience.