Leadership, Teamwork Skills Help Produce Success
When Deepika Mokkarala walked out of Rawls Hall with an MBA and MS in Global Supply Chain Management in 2013, she had dreams and aspirations of a bright future. But her success so far has been better than imagined, she said, thanks to her experiences at Krannert and DCMME. She had been skeptical that her learning and experiences at Krannert would be completely useful at her new job at Amazon, but her doubts evaporated as soon as she began working as operations manager through the Amazon Pathways Program. The responsibility of handling the operations of a 1.1 million square foot warehouse meant that she had to balance leadership skills, team work and analytics, using various tools to understand the root cause of problems before proposing solutions. She found herself reflecting on some of the basics she had learned at Krannert, including concepts from “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt and Professor Suresh Chand’s class on dealing with bottlenecks. “I created simple tweaks in processes, enabling gains in throughput for my organization and processes improvements leading to $300k or more in savings during peak times at Amazon,” she said.
In other aspects of her job, she found herself using her experiences from long case study nights at Krannert to understand and synergize with leaders in Amazon despite their conflicting views. This helped her make some challenging decisions while working with supply chain, retail and transportation teams. “I think the most surprising part I noticed about myself was that I had developed my leadership and negotiation skills while working in teams and with study abroad programs,” she said. Her job has taken her to fulfillment centers around the country and even to Ontario, Canada, making her appreciate the diversity and opportunities at Krannert that allowed her to experience different cultures. “This set me up for success and allowed me to be flexible while transitioning in and out of my various roles,” she said. Last year, she became a senior operations manager at Amazon and moved to New Jersey to launch a new fulfillment center for the company, which was similar to launching a small business. “Experiences within Krannert and DCMME equipped me with the ability to work with organizations outside and the ability to be poised and negotiate to support the needs of my team versus the needs of business, making the launch successful,” she said. But she added that it hasn’t been all smooth sailing in her job. She’s had to overcome roadblocks and face a number of challenges, from making important decisions to prioritizing tasks to adapting to growing responsibilities. “In those moments, I was glad that I was a Krannert alumnus as I found myself looking back to the basics in operation, or drawing from leadership lessons at Rawls, or Professor Lee’s life lessons to bring back the focus,” she said.
“It’s not only our abilities but also our choices in life that make us who we are”