The ‘Multi-Potentialite’ Reverse Logistics Expert- Dr. Sunnanda Panda

As I walk along life’s shore, years and worries collecting more, often myself thinking I find, what will I ever leave behind?

Memories and legacies, regular or prime, Footprints on the sand of time.

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Dr. Sunnanda Panda

When you meet Dr. Sunnanda Panda, you can’t help but get blown away by her infectious energy. But beneath the vivacious façade lies a gritty woman who excels in every field. She decided to pursue a subject that not many are aware of. An expert who also happens to be a mother, a homemaker, a teacher, a car-rally enthusiast and an avid traveler. Let’s find out how she performs so many roles with aplomb.

BV: Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? Take us through your educational background.

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Receiving a well-deserved Ph.D. Degree
Sunnanda: I am a simple yet hard working girl who has grown up in Mumbai and I  started working for my father’s shipping business at the age of 14. Had to work up the ranks in office along with completing my education and extra-curricular activities from NIIT to NCC. At the age of 20, when I moved to Delhi to start our first branch office, I was culturally and professionally challenged. Yet I managed to make it a profit center by adding to service various new aspects of trade including starting a Logistics Institute. Post my second child, I took a sabbatical to pursue my Ph.D. in Reverse Logistics.

BV: Reverse Logistics in India is a relatively new term. Tell us something about it.

Sunnanda: Simply put, Logistics is the entire process of taking a product from producer to customer/consumer, while Reverse Logistics is all about taking the end-of-use or end-of-life product from customer/consumer back to the producer for recycle, reuse and to get the maximum value from that end-of-use or end-of-life product.

Although Reverse Logistics in India seems like a new term, we have been doing it in our own ways. A very simple relateable example is the newspapers which are read/used, then sold off to the local kabadiwala only to be resold as raw material for recycled paper.

This process can and does happen for almost all products ranging from mobile phones to cars, even clothes but as an organized activity and thus called Reverse Logistics. Internationally, it has gained a lot of prominences and is one of the most important ways for improving efficiency and sustainability. India is still trying to trade off between the ‘will’ and ‘want’ to manage Reverse Logistics.

BV: Why did you decide to work in this field?

Sunnanda: I had practiced and learned about the various aspect of logistics in the industry. When I got into my Ph.D. I wanted to learn something new, keeping Logistics as the base, embracing the upcoming retail industry and in tandem with the environment. In 2008, when I decided to pursue the subject, I knew I would not find a mentor easily, collecting data would be a challenge, and the statement I used to get the most was “ Way ahead of my time “!

BV: Share with us your accomplishments or any other milestone that you are particularly proud of.

Sunnanda: It has been a tough journey having many moments of self-doubt, especially because I seemed to be a lone traveler on this path. The milestone worth stating here is a CII conference on Reverse Logistics where I was a speaker among the big names like Flipkart, Bluedart, Greendust, and the likes.

BV: Who do you consider your staunchest supporter when you decided to work in this field.

Sunnanda: I believe I am my biggest supporter! If you don’t believe in yourself how will others believe in you? I also feel we should accept our weaknesses and blame ourselves for our failures and pat ourselves on our backs for successes. Having said that I have to add that I am blessed with family and friends who have absolute belief in me and my pursuits!

BV: What is your success mantra? Any motivational saying or quote that you go by?

Sunnanda: My success mantra is to find a NICHE (never be part of a herd) and then work so hard that the world cannot deny you success. I know many who are not hands-on or detailed which makes them vulnerable to failure. This applies to all walks of life including being a mother and homemaker which many may consider unimportant roles in Life. But I work at it like I would like to be the best in them too.

BV: What does your typical day look like? How do you strike a balance between work and home?

BananiVista Expert
Dr. Panda is an avid traveler too

Sunnanda: Do you really want to know? I am up by 5 am most days, play my role of mother and homemaker, then work from 8 am to 3 pm, post 3 pm I am available to my kids including being involved in their evening activities till dinner time. Sometimes, increased work pressure compels me to work until midnight. I am a workaholic. I believe a busy day is a blessed day!

BV: What are your hobbies? Any particular thing you love doing?

BananiVista Expert
She is a passionate car-rally driver

Sunnanda: I love this question. I love new things, new challenges. I just can’t do mundane. As per TedTalk, I would like to believe that I am a multi-potentionalite!

BananiVista Expert
Dr. Panda with her Car-rally trophy

Top of the hobby List – Car rallying including winning one, Gardening, travelling (with new groups). I have enjoyed volunteering for Teach India, being the Treasurer of our resident association and serving on a Soccer committee. Teaching as a Visiting Faculty for Logistics and Supply Chain has brought me great joy too.

 BV: Lastly, what would be your advice to someone who’s interested in Reverse Logistics in India as a career option?

Sunnanda: Every industry has ups and downs, but Reverse Logistics in India is yet to start! So Hang in there, your time will come!

Dr. Sunnanda Panda is far from being just a scholar. She loves life and tries her hand at everything that she loves. As she rightly said, mundane just doesn’t do it for her.

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