How Our Clothing Gets Around (Sustainably!): Q&A With Sanjay Mishra, Sr. Dir. of Global Supply Chain

Levi Strauss & Co.
June 16, 2014

Sanjay Mishra is a Senior Director of Supply Chain and Global Logistics at LS&Co. That means he knows the ins and outs of how our clothes get around the world in tact and in line with our biggest and boldest sustainability aims.

Whether it be by ship or by train, Sanjay and his team help manage the efficient and responsible global transportation of LS&Co.’s products to destinations near and far—and Sanjay couldn’t be more thrilled about it. He’s been a fan of Levi’s® since he was a young boy in India, so it only makes sense that one day he’d be helping LS&Co. get Levi’s® to fans in countries around the globe.

Sanjay took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Unzipped about the task of shipping our clothes around the world in a sustainable fashion:

UNZIPPED: What is your role at LS&Co.?

SANJAY MISHRA: I am a Senior Director of Global Supply Chain (global logistics and trade compliance) at LS&Co. My team is tasked with the global movement of products from factories all over the world to our fan base in various countries in the most efficient manner. Managing global operations of this sort is a fairly uphill task, but working with our very dedicated and skilled team members, and capable external partners, we make it happen!

In what ways does LS&Co. remain committed to sustainable means of transportation?

At LS&Co. we follow the profits through principles philosophy, even if it means taking a hit on profits to do the right thing. Sustainability is embedded into the entire product life cycle, from design and manufacturing to transportation and distribution of the products.

Ships that travel across oceans, aircrafts and trucks all have big environmental impact. We use the lens of sustainability when making our choice of carriers, favoring those who have a proven track record in environmental sustainability—from ship hull or engine design to the use of responsible fuel and other operational efficiencies. Our core carriers are leading innovators in the industry.

We carefully plan our moves to ensure we use the most efficient mode of transportation, favoring water over air and rail over truck. We use global consolidation and deconsolidation programs to optimize freight movement on each leg of transportation. In addition to measuring performance for costs and transit times, we also measure carbon emissions. We are influencing internal stakeholders by publishing internal reports to change behavior.

What challenges did you face in switching modes of transport (air to ocean; water to rail) to reduce emissions?

The transition to more environmentally-efficient modes of transportation can result in longer and sometimes variable lead times. Clearly, that’s not ideal for a fast and predictable response to the market, especially given the complexities of supply and demand in a global market. So we needed to be smart.

We took a more focused approach by segmenting product groups based on demand/supply patterns, and then making decisions from there. We now collaborate very closely with our product planning and manufacturing teams to ensure we identify such opportunities on a very frequent basis. At the end of the day it is a win-win situation for all.

What is your LS&Co. ‘Story’ – when were you first introduced to the brand and how does that memory continue to inspire you in your work?

While growing up in a small town in the Nehru/Gandhi inspired ‘socialist’ India, my access to anything modern or western was limited.  We rode on the iconic Ambassador cars (modeled after the Britain’s Morris Oxford) and owned the first TV in the early eighties. My dad told us a lot about America (Kennedy, Constitution, and many other things – which he learned mostly from his readings). So I had a natural affinity for anything American right from the start.

In 1982 (I was 7 years old then), Ma’s younger brother returned after completing his college in Delhi, and he sported a pair of well worn-out very ‘American’ Levi’s®.  I fell in love with it then! My brother and I spent many hours replicating that “finish” on our locally stitched denim pants….we came close enough. I bought my first pair of Levi’s® several years later. This sense of pride in working for the most American of brands keeps me inspired in my work.

What do you love best about your job?

Working in the LS&Co. global supply chain, every day is extraordinary and somewhat unpredictable. There’s a lot to solve, and a lot to accomplish! This keeps us going. And remember, we’re doing this for the best jeans company in the world.

Sanjay (1)