In this segment of #WomenInPackaging, we bring to you the inspiring journeys of women in the packaging sector who are painting the town red with their successful feats.
Being strong and graceful in the world of procurement is a rare sight and I had the privilege to encounter this rarity. With almost 15 years of working in the pharmaceutical procurement industry with companies like Sun Pharma and Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Ms. Trupti Bhalekar is currently the Head of Packaging Procurement at Emcure Pharmaceutical Ltd.
“Packaging procurement is a big challenge.
And in a place like Sikkim, one can only imagine how difficult it was. ”
Read on to explore Ms. Trupti’s journey in the field of packaging procurement!
Tell us about yourself. What do you currently do?
Trupti Bhalekar(TB): I completed my Master’s in commerce and then pursued an MBA in Supply chain management. In 2003, I started my career and although my education was in accounts and finance, I actually started working in the procurement department of a pharmaceutical company. Once I started, I became really curious and interested in this particular industry. It has been almost 15 years I am happily catering to the needs of the Pharmaceutical sector.
Why did you choose a career in procurement industry? What motivated you to continue?
TB: Initially, I wasn’t very sure whether I will continue in the procurement department. But eventually, looking at the upcoming technology, different challenges and extensive learning experiences, I decided to continue.
Having said that, pharmaceutical procurement was one intriguing process. I mean, you have all these raw materials, packaging items, and strict quality checks given the hygiene involved.
With relation to packaging procurement, there are a lot of challenges. One of the biggest is dealing with small scale vendors. If you actually go to see Vartika, the major contributors are small scale. Pharma industries have very acute specifications that need to be fulfilled to the last detail and hence, a lot of hand holding is involved especially packaging.
Can you tell us about your most challenging project?
TB: Yes, there is this one project I am rather proud of.
In one of my recent project, we were coming up with a new facility in Sikkim, where there are so many geographical challenges involved; connectivity being the major one.
New location, new vendors, new set up…there were challenges at every footstep.
We were building a liquid facility and were the first pharmaceutical company in Sikkim to come up with such a unit. There, we wanted to source almost 40-50 lakh PET bottles in a month. Sourcing them from outside of Sikkim was definitely not feasible because of the high transportation costs involved in the area, owing to the geography. Hence, we realised there was no option but to establish a manufacturing unit for PET bottles.
The biggest challenge was to convince our existing supplier to set up a manufacturing unit in Sikkim just for our company. This was one of the biggest procurement projects we had worked on, and we had to do this even before starting the commissioning of our own plant. Also, we did not just need one type of bottle; there were 6-7 different types! So, supervising different moulds and ensuring the numbers are met, even before the liquid manufacturing starts were of the highest priority.
And, we delivered successfully!
What was the biggest moment of pride?
TB: The proudest moment was when many other pharmaceutical companies eventually set up their liquid units because our efforts paved the way and laid the foundation for it!
Given your experience, you must have seen a lot of transformations in the packaging industry. How much do you think technology has contributed towards this change?
TB: Technology has definitely contributed a lot!
The procurement department has to constantly co-ordinate across internal and external departments like clients, vendors, packaging development, QA/QC, production and ensuring trials and final product are released on time. We basically bridge the gap between all these departments and technology is extremely helpful.
Earlier packaging was just for transferring product from one location to another or you can say lowest cost selection was majorly the criteria for outer packing. But now, the industry is focusing towards quality and automation with cost effectiveness for a more attractive form of packaging,
Initially, when I had joined this industry in 2003, concepts like e-bidding and MOQ they were not very popular. Today, with the help of the internet, the same processes have become so easy and sophisticated.
With an increase in women joining the packaging and processing industry, will there be a change in how different departments do business?
TB: Pick any industry, and for a woman, challenges are everywhere. Even your own house. But how you deal with the situation matters the most. I did face some issues but then if you are dedicated and trust yourself, everything seems like it can be accomplished.
Having said that, acceptance rate in the industry has definitely increased a lot which is quite encouraging and there is still a long way to go for improvement.
If you had to give one advice to other women in this field, what would it be?
TB: Learn, learn, learn, and take as many positive vibes as possible from your surroundings. Leave the negatives behind, and keep working hard.
This interview is the third from our Women In Packaging series. To read more such interesting stories directly in your inbox, kindly subscribe to the blog. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
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P.S.: We would like to thank Ms. Trupti Bhalekar for her time and amazing answers!11