JGBS Pandemic Lecture Series

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 6:30PM (New Delhi)

Professor ManMohan S. Sodhi, FIMA, FORS

Operations & Supply Chain Management

Cass Business School

City, University of London

Supply Chain Super-Adaptiveness: Case Study of a Pharmaceutical Company’s Response to H1N1 Influenza Pandemic



The webinar concentrates on how companies during this pandemic COVID-19, must takeaway from the previous pandemic, H1N1 influenza. For this purpose, Professor Sodhi discusses how a pharmaceutical company responded to that pandemic and throws light upon the supply chain adaptiveness which is not only very intricate in a business but also determines the growth of it.

Professor Sodhi starts the webinar by referring to his experience of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-10 when London had expected 1000s of people to die due to the virus. He reflects the past situation onto the current situation of COVID-19 by pointing out uncertainties faced by businesses today such as the lockdown period in every nation, a 2nd or 3rd hit if the virus worldwide, will we succeed in getting a vaccine or anti-viral for the virus. He goes to mention about the government engagement in the pandemic regarding providing support in this kind a of a situation to all sectors and industries. He further talks about how there is and will be a demand-supply fluctuation in the economy. In addition to this he also mentions about companies partnering to make PPE suits and ventilators to provide for the current situation as it is of high priority.  In addition to the business perspective, there is also uncertainty of human life, or employee well being which is a major problem for businesses.

Prof Sodhi says an interesting fact that during a time like this, companies must compete to survive. He discusses that the companies could either no nothing at all to their supply chain or be good at cutting down production and hence be resilient or companies must look out to scaling up or down during these unprecedent times. He further goes to explain that businesses must become ‘super-adaptability’. Super-adaptability here is to adjust and redesign operations or supply network even to accommodate extreme changes in supply or in the market. In addition to this he proposes that every business supply chain must be agile, adaptable, and aligned (AAA).

Professor Sodhi continues to explain about his research, stating his question to be’ what are the antecedents of super-adaptability?’ In this research he uses the case study of a pharmaceuticals company and their response to the H1N1 pandemic. He discusses the various challenges faced by the Pharma such as prices, the spread of the virus and the survival of this virus in the environment. Besides the difficult situation, Pharma did meet all the countries requirement and was successful in making a vaccine for the cure from the virus. This added to the reputation of the company as well as helped the company tailor and expand capabilities and decision-making structures in preparation against future pandemics. Sodhi mentions that he could find 4 sets if factors for the company to be ‘super-adaptive’ – preparedness, reorganising for crisis, managing stakeholders, and using their resources efficiently which lead to fast responses. He discusses how each of these factors lead to success in facing the pandemic in detail.

Professor Sodhi concludes the webinar by mentioning that super-adaptability requires preparedness, reorganising skills, managing the different stakeholders and lastly build and use your resources. In this way, companies can cope with the current crisis COVID-19 and benefit everyone.

Summary report by Sanjana N (IBM 2017)