Alumni profile - Nizam Kabir
I work for one of the UK’s largest Health and Safety Distributors, Arco. I manage a team of 8 planners, responsible for maintaining the supply of health and safety products sourced from all over the world... working in supply chain is a constant battle for equilibrium.
Why did you study your Masters in Management at Queen Mary? Before applying for a position on the MSc Management course at Queen Mary I was researching where the best place would be to study in the UK in regards to location, course feedback and the type of people attending the university. The diversity of candidates at an Open Day at Queen Mary certainly caught my eye! I’m from a small town in Yorkshire called Doncaster and diversity isn’t so accelerated there. The history and success of the University further swayed me and also the impact many candidates were/are having since graduating from Queen Mary.
What sparked your interest in this specific degree? I always get asked this question, why MSc Management after an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences with Human Biology? The answer is that I simply had a fascination for business and corporate structure and fundamentally I came to the realisation during my undergrad years that every entity we belong to or deal with on a daily basis is a business. The strategy of the business you work for today or will work for is a by-product of the decisions leaders running the business make. The type of people I would potentially network with during my studies sold this course to me in particular, as Queen Mary only attracts the best. Likewise, lecturers are from practical backgrounds which makes their courses even more engaging. But to conclude, it was the thought that I would leave Queen Mary knowing that I have gained a well rounded experience, developed my knowledge and branched out my networks – all of which I achieved.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you like learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies? There’s too many to list but overall I enjoyed learning about supply chains and how supply and demand dictates the functions of a business and its strategy. The continuous use of real-life examples made my studies even more exciting and certainly equipped me for the real world of work. Accounting was a huge module for me – even though introductory, it helps me on a daily basis even outside of work when I am trading on the stock exchange and reviewing company balance sheets to see if they are a feasible investment. This was something I was surprised about because I never pursued my master’s course thinking I would be interested in the stock exchange.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary in particular? Credibility, location, history, people and facilities. If you want an all-round university it has to be Queen Mary. Take it from someone that has attended other universities whether for a short course or walk around. Queen Mary has the right people in the right places helping to provide excellence. I cannot fault Queen Mary.
Can you describe your career path up to date and touch on your current role as Supply Chain Lead at Arco Ltd? Once I left university I wanted to land myself in a supply chain role ideally in a manufacturing business with a small turnover. The vision was always to start with smaller businesses and work my way to a larger business to eventually become my own boss. My career started at a £20million pound turnover bespoke contract furniture business, who were fitting out the grand hotels of London. It was a very unique experience and a very niche, fast moving market as an empty room in a 5* hotel is not a pleasant experience for the guests or owners. I started as a supply chain coordinator and very quickly became the production and logistics manager within 6 months. I had made a huge impact in a short space of time implementing new lean strategies and improving efficiencies around production and logistics. I went on to save the business approx. £450,000 a year on logistics/productions costs as a result of reduced wastages, a tendering process introduced for freight and by increasing capacities on our shop floor. This all sounds very rewarding but I did find myself hands on the majority of the time, which is something I definitely learnt during my time at Queen Mary. Practice doesn’t work from just theory but also doing the work whether that is your job or someone else’s.
Two years later I decided it was time to move on and moved on to one of the UK’s largest Health and Safety Distributors, Arco. I now manage a team of 8 planners, responsible for maintaining the supply of health and safety products sourced from all over the world. My supply chain went from regional to global and the complexities are totally different now compared to the initial years of my career.
Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you? Working for a forward-thinking organisation my days start with Huddles where we discuss everyone’s wellbeing, daily tasks and ongoing projects. I recently implemented using a KANBAN board (which I learnt about at Queen Mary) and we manage our projects using this. I have £50 million pounds to spend on Inventory annually and maintain and this is usually our first check of every day. The thing with working in supply chain is that nothing is the same every day, the challenges vary dramatically as our work is totally dependent on supply and demand. When we are selling too much we need to react and replenish stocks, when we are selling too little for a period of time we need to look at marketing campaigns or slow down orders we already have in the pipeline – it is a constant battle for equilibrium. Therefore I highly recommend a career in supply chain if you’re up for a challenge!
The pandemic has changed the way we work of course – everything is virtual now! We are using Zoom calls and Zoom quizzes to keep everyone engaged and connected.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development? In short, my time at Queen Mary has helped me to dream big. The people around me were from all walks of life and this certainly helped me to see and build a bigger picture. I learned strategy, communication and organisational behaviour, all of which I strongly consider when managing my team on a daily basis. I’ve become a vivid critique due to Queen Mary, which I love and my course gave me a constant thirst for knowledge and to challenge the status quo.
But the biggest skill or should I say influence I walked away with is Growth Mindset and Emotional Intelligence. Everything went from I could to I will. It truly is about the environment and the people you surround yourself with and I can assure anyone who is planning to apply for Queen Mary that they will walk away with not just career skills but life skills.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? Plan. You must plan your career journey with a vision of where you want to be, otherwise you will end up in one position for a very long time. It’s not about jumping ship but it is about fulfilling your potential. Always use the core skills you gain at university and always discuss new ideas in your work place or even at interviews – this will help you stand out. Have an idea of where you want to be in 10 years and how you will get there. This doesn’t have to be in terms of a career either, why not think about setting up your own business? Another soft skill I feel takes people a really long way is honesty. Be transparent in your interviews with your shortcomings - people will help you or it will attract the right people to you.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? My most memorable moment has to be presenting in front of 100 people; I’ve always been confident in small groups, but I never realised how much of a challenge it was. My lecturer at the time gave me a few words of encouragement and some feedback which I use to my advantage on a daily basis.
Also the friends I have made globally. It still shocks me how this small-town boy has met friends out in UAE, France, USA, Bangladesh and India. We all maintain contact and have seen each other many times in and outside of the UK. It truly is something special.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or societies during your time at Queen Mary? Formula Student – I was an operations manager at the time. This role gave me a good insight into how a business is set up in terms of job roles and responsibilities. I recommend this to anyone aspiring to be their own boss or to gain an insight into how businesses could potentially be set up. Likewise, it is a really valuable experience working with people from different academic backgrounds and it will help you understand the dynamics of the workplace.
Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t Supply Chain Lead at Arco Ltd then I would be… an entrepreneur. And I will be an entrepreneur.