Partner and Global Product Leader, Digital Supply Chain and Plan
Back when he was growing up in Mumbai, India, Kearney partner and digital veteran Suketu Gandhi learned the challenging craft of high-end watch repair. After earning his master’s degree in computer systems engineering from the University of Arkansas, he worked as a systems engineer for a major global retailer and developed software for an ERP firm before pivoting into the world of start-ups during the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. He ultimately transitioned to consulting, where he specialised in consumer and retail, IT/digital, and supply chain at several firms before joining Kearney in 2014.
Suketu is passionate about taking on challenging projects. “I love working on the most difficult problems with positive, results-focused people, and Kearney has some of the world’s best,” he says. “The joy comes in when we join together with colleagues and clients to take on seemingly impossible tasks together and make them work. The harder it is, the more fun it is in the end.
“The best projects are the ones in which you help to make lasting change that sticks,” he adds. “There’s a client I’ve worked with for the past five or so years to transform the entire end-to-end supply chain into one that is much more efficient and responsive to consumer needs. We’ve rethought their technology function and rebuilt their analytics capabilities to make them world-class. The duration, the journey, and the fruit this work has borne will continue to pay off for them for a long time as they further grow their business.”
Suketu’s affinity for supply chain work came about through his fascination with consumers and their behaviours. “I like working in industries that have a direct line of sight to the end human being, so consumer products and retail was a natural fit for me,” he comments. “My work starts with the consumer in mind, and it was evident that satisfying the customer required an understanding of the supply chain that was in place to deliver the product or service the customer wanted. As I started digging deeper, I grew increasingly interested in supply chain, which played to my systems experience because technology is so critical to supply chain.”
One of Kearney’s most high-profile partners due to his many media appearances and a plethora of published work, Suketu serves on the Illinois Business Consulting advisory board. He is a recognised industry leader and subject-matter expert in digital transformation, IT strategy and enterprise architecture, technology’s role in retail, the Internet as a channel, outsourcing and offshoring, IT organisation evolution, and the use of technology for highly mobile assets.
And in a pinch, Suketu can still repair a watch while helping a business transform. “There’s an old, bad joke that consultants take the client’s watch and then tell them what time it is,” he says. “Anytime a client mentions it, my comeback is, ‘Actually, if you give me your watch I’ll tell you how accurate it is and how we can make it work even better.’”
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“Sometimes automation is seen as a panacea. We see it as one of a number of solutions, not a silver bullet.”