Skip to main content

Supply Chain Leadership Series IV: Joydeep Ganguly – Passionate About Sustainable Supply Chains

Joydeep Ganguly was one of my students during his MBA at NC State. I had the opportunity to have him talk to my MBA class recently, and we covered a variety of topics – from career development to the biotech industry.

A little bit about him – Joydeep serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Operations at Gilead Sciences. In his current role, he is accountable for several strategic functions, including corporate engineering; capital and infrastructure strategy; corporate real estate; risk management; operations research and global procurement. Serving as the Chief Sustainability Officer for the organization, Joydeep also leads Gilead’s environmental sustainability strategies globally. He is a member of the company’s executive ESG committee, as well as a Board member of the Gilead Foundation. Prior to Gilead, Joydeep spent 10 years at Biogen, in roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of process sciences, manufacturing and supply chain. In his role as Vice President and Global Head of Biogen’s Technical Operations function, he oversaw the company’s multi-scale biologics and small molecule manufacturing, as well as led operations for the company’s presence in North Carolina, Denmark and Switzerland.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Bay Area Council, Biocom, and is a trustee at Town School for Boys. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for Culture Biosciences, as well on the Advisory Council for NC State University’s Supply Chain research program. He earned an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame (graduating with Eta Kappa Nu honors), an M.B.A. from North Carolina State University (graduating with Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honors), and an MHA from Cornell University where he received the prestigious Sloan award. Joydeep has been recognized by the National Diversity Council as a Top 50 Diverse Leader in California, awarded the Leadership Excellence Award by the California Diversity Council, and was recently named as one of the Top 3 leaders in Climate Science within the Biotech industry.

Key Lessons for Success

I asked Joydeep about advice for our students, based on his career learnings. Ganguly looks back and attributes his success to three primary qualities he has learned from his experience over his 20 years.

“Number 1 : I was and remain naturally curious – about the industry, emerging trends and sources of value. I balance that curiosity by taking risks in my career, where often I try to move to a function to learn other parts of the business.

Number 2 – I have always made a point of surrounding myself with the best and the brightest. People who are not just deep experts and understand their field, but leaders who think differently about problems. Having had the privilege to build many teams, one of the greatest sources of learnings I’ve had is to try and find people who push me to be a better leader.

Number 3 – I always benchmark the performance of any business function I manage, against a broader dataset. And I ask myself how can we make ourselves better? Can we step back and truly do something transformative, and learn from the best in class and the best in breed. It is very easy to get comfortable with status-quo, or benchmark one’s current performance against a baseline that may not be reflective of best-in-class. Researching best-in-class external benchmarks, and striving to meet or exceed them through internal operating model transformation is something that continues to be something I’m passionate about – and its held me in good stead as I’ve looked to add value in every role”.

A particular area he is passionate about right now

When pressed about an area he is passionate about, Joydeep notes that he is incredibly interested in the intersection between sustainability and operational excellence, and about ways to accelerate ESG ambitions, without it becoming a big cost sink for an enterprise. “There is a lot of greenwashing and buzzwords right now in this area. To be effective, you have to keep it simple. Begin with solid goals and determine what your actions are going to define your impact in the short and long term.

When asked about how his organization approaches sustainability, his response was more about culture, than necessarily any particular programmatic aspect.

At Gilead, sustainability is woven into the fabric of our being,” emphasizes Joydeep. “We believe there’s a sustainable way to execute every business practice, and that mindset motivates all our actions – from embedding green principles into 100% of our 2022 building projects to making the conscious choice each day such as whether to walk, bike, shuttle, or drive an EV to work.”

He continues, “Our approach not only guides what we do within Gilead, but it also influences and inspires others to join us, including as partners in our communities and our efforts to advance sustainable operations across the pharmaceutical industry.”

The role of Digital Transformation in ESG

Joydeep also believe that digital transformation and ESG are intertwined in the future. In an excerpt from a recent article that highlighted his leadership in this space, he was quoted as saying: “Climate risk can manifest in many aspects within our business. At Gilead, we continue to evolve our approaches to new technologies—both hard and soft—to reduce our vulnerability to climate change. We continue exploring hard technologies that include innovative solutions to implement onsite renewable technologies. We use soft technology to inform our climate risk scenario analyses to raise awareness and build capacity within our operations.”

“As companies look to define ESG ambitions, there are many operational strategies that can help support, catalyze and accelerate progress by leveraging digital transformation, and Pharma 4.0 frameworks are one such strategy. As we considered ways to improve carbon stewardship, we experienced challenges diagnosing root case inefficiencies in our most energy-intensive lab facilities. We identified the opportunity to use the power of predictive data science to create a power prediction program that finds root causes of variances down to the equipment submeter. This has resulted in many benefits, including lower carbon emissions, fewer energy spikes, lower energy waste and lower grid strain.”

He went through examples of how focused investments in digital transformation not just benefited the operations, and the bottom line, but also contributed towards the company’s ESG goals. A key learning that he asked the students to consider is to ensure that they measure the impact of the effort – things often look great in a business case or in a PowerPoint deck, but true transformations have a sustained impact in the way the organization operates.

Embedding Sustainability into Procurement and Supply chain processes

When I asked him about how Gilead and other companies are differentiating themselves in the sustainability space, as it relates to Scope 3, he talked about the value of having Sustainability as a selection criteria for suppliers. Procurement, when embedded into the operating fabric of ESG can add tremendous value.

An example he cites is the way Gilead designed and built its recent R&D lab operations. The selection of the suppliers and the supply chain of the project considered many more factors than mere costs – it looked at the firm’s culture, the firm’s safety record, and the firm’s ability to design the spaces with sustainability front-and-center. Ironically, the more Gilead prioritized sustainability in their designs, the lower the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was for the project. This further reaffirmed his belief that good sustainability hygiene and operational excellence cannot just co-exist, but that there maybe a causal relationship between the two imperatives.

Personal Challenges

My final question to him was to talk through challenges he’s faced, and how he has dealt with them over his career. Joydeep shared a number of his personal challenges that he has encountered in his career, and advice for students to follow.

He says, “First, I had to learn that technical smarts won’t get you where you want to be – being an engineer I like to rationalize everything as a math problem. But someone told me in my career – the hard stuff is often the easy stuff, the soft stuff is the hard stuff. It took me some time to fully understand the importance of leadership and the overall leadership journey. I was very lucky to have had mentors and HR leaders along the way who helped me focus on leadership. So, I always advise people – build your soft skills as much as your hard skills: communications, executive presence, how one manages people, deals with conflict! These are all critical to one’s journey.”

“The second lesson I learned – is how to not look at failure as a setback. I work in biotech, where much of what we do can fail! Looking at failure as a learning opportunity allowed me to build resilience as I moved on in your career. How one deals with failure in one’s career often ends up being a differentiator – all the great leaders I’ve worked with were all brilliant at their domain… but they were even more brilliant at learning from their mistakes and viewing them as a development opportunity.”

Lastly, he emphasized, “Surround myself with diverse leaders – don’t surround yourself with people who think like you and give you the answers you want to hear. Diversity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do – it is good for business! Assuming there is just one way of thinking about a problem is so fraught with risk – even at school, the classes I’ve enjoyed the most are ones that encouraged constructive debate.”

He ended with some final pieces of advice to the students: “Be curious. The stuff I am working on today was not invented when I left school, so you have to be agile to keep up, and that is important. Second, focus on the soft skills that you think may not be as relevant– focus as much on how you get things done. Finally: Have fun! I love coming to work and have enjoyed every job I’ve ever had. If you continue to have fun in what you do – you will do well in whatever you chose to pursue”