Muddassir Ahmed

Country of origin: Pakistan

Divisional Supply Chain Manager, Eaton

After obtaining my B.E. in Textile Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, I gained a couple of years’ experience in industry and then left Pakistan to obtain my Master’s in Management of Production from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. That is where I decided to expand my knowledge and practical experience in supply chain management and continuous improvement methodologies. In 2005, I was able to obtain a temporary contract with a company called Eaton, located in Birmingham (UK) to further my practical supply chain experience.

Whilst I was working at Eaton and researching the possibility of undertaking a PhD in Management Science I was offered a full scholarship by Lancaster University Management School, to study for a PhD under the supervision of Professor Linda Hendry. At the same time, Eaton offered me a full-time position as Materials Manager and offered to partly fund my PhD if I was able to complete it on a part-time basis. Both Linda and LUMS supported that proposal, and so that is what I then did.

Completing a doctoral research project in 3-4 years was a challenging endeavor in itself, but combining part-time study with a full-time job and also family responsibilities involved significant additional challenges. The main difficulty was when it came to switching repeatedly from everyday work to research work, on a psychological level, but of course time constraints entered into it too. It was very difficult during my PhD study days to return to where I had last left off, and by the time I had done so there was very little time left to do any work before needing to get some sleep! In order to cope with that difficulty I chose a research topic related to my work i.e. Supply Chain Management. That allowed me to maximise the resources available at work for the data collection and analysis chapters of the study.

The second biggest challenge was to maintain the motivation, whilst continuing to work, to make progress with my doctorate. Professor Linda Hendry was incredibly supportive and understanding of my other commitments. Those commitments, at times, unfortunately resulted in missed deadlines and opportunities, and in particular affected my ability to make it to conferences and seminars. I would like to offer my thanks to Professor Linda Hendry for bearing with me for 7 long years, and for her enthusiasm, guidance and unrelenting support throughout my part-time PhD process. Linda has routinely gone above and beyond the scope of her supervisory duties in order to allay my worries, concerns, and anxieties, and she worked hard to instill confidence in me in respect of my ability to complete the work.

The key aims for my PhD research were to create a framework which would offer practical usage for the operations and supply chain community, and also to contribute to academic knowledge of my subject. I’m glad to have achieved those aims with the assistance of continuous feedback and annual assessment sessions at LUMS, as well as the utilisation of the Supply Development Framework within the organisation.

I continued to work with Eaton during the 7 years of my PhD, and after successfully completing it in May 2015 I was promoted to Divisional Supply Chain Manager at the Life Safety Division. I am now responsible for the Supply Chain of $500 million of sales, as well as managing logistics, distribution, sales and operational planning, materials management and performance measurement. I also provide coaching, support and development for local supply chain teams.

To fulfill my intrinsic desire to share knowledge, and my enjoyment of creative writing, I have started a blog on Supply Chain and Procurement at muddassirism.com, which assists readers in gaining knowledge of the operations world, and helps those making decisions to drive Continuous Improvement in the jobs and businesses they are in.

My aim is to one day move to academia, where I hope to combine my theoretical background with my practical experience in order to teach and to carry out applied research.