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How Amit Karnik Leads Complex Projects and Drives Innovation at Mondelēz

"From sourcing the finest ingredients to ensuring safety and sustainability, our work at Mondelēz is all about creating moments of joy."

Amit Karnik, Central Engineering Bakery/Engineering Manager & Program Technical Lead (Plonsk)

Wednesday, June 18, 2024

Please explain your role in Engineering, highlighting key responsibilities and how you contribute to MDLZ's purpose and mission.

My role primarily involves building site engineering capability by driving strong engineering fundamentals to deliver cost-effective and robust solutions without deviating from the IIM methodology. I collaborate with global and regional counterparts in Engineering and Procurement to strengthen our pool of BCS suppliers. As the current Program Technical Lead for the Plonsk program, I manage the dynamic recruitment agenda while keeping the program on track. This involves ensuring speedy decision-making without losing focus on safety, constrained capital expenditures, and tight timings, which are driven by the complexities of interdependencies with other projects and plant agendas.

What is most special about your role?

The most special aspect of my role is the opportunity to explore new people, cultures, and avenues. I also enjoy managing a highly interdependent and complex matrix of projects, such as the Plonsk Strategic Program, which is valued at over $100 million.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

The most exciting project I have worked on is the Plonsk Strategic Program in Poland, where I served as the Technical Lead. This project was particularly thrilling due to the enormous expectations to deliver a challenging task with integrated complexities. The program blends growth, infrastructure, safety, and sustainability, with an investment of approximately $150 million.

What are some projects that have significantly contributed to your professional growth?

Several projects have significantly contributed to my professional growth, including Bun Line Automation in Vietnam, the relocation and consolidation of a cracker line in Vietnam, a rooftop solar project with a 2.5 MW capacity in Vietnam, the BIC Greenfield project in Bahrain, and the Orion project, which involved launching Bournvita Biscuits on the Oreo line at the TP site in India. These projects helped me embrace diversity and adaptability, develop business acumen beyond core technical skills, and evolve as a team player with sharpened leadership abilities. My assignments in Bahrain and the BD&E lead stint in Vietnam helped me to think holistically rather than subjectively.

Amit smiling with his colleagues

If you think about the supply chain in 10 years’ time, what do you see? (i.e., digital, AI)

In ten years, I envision the supply chain being driven by advanced AI tools implemented on platforms with optimized multi-skilled staffing, leading to highly efficient processes with maximized simplicity. I also foresee a paperless supply chain. I strongly believe in this future, having seen my own childhood transition from landlines to cellular phones to smartphones, which made life easier and faster. The new baseline expectation from AI will be speed with perfection.

What’s your favorite MDLZ product, and can you share any memorable moments or experiences connected to it?

My favorite MDLZ product is Cadbury Dairy Milk (Fruit and Nuts). This product brings back tons of childhood memories, whether it was receiving it as a gift on birthdays, celebrating exam successes, winning sports tournaments, or during festive seasons. "Fruit & Nut" was always around us, or rather, we were always trying to be around it. 😊

In what ways has your career grown since joining the company, and what opportunities for development are available?

Adaptability through embracing international assignments has been a significant highlight of my career growth since joining the company. I have followed some simple tools for development, such as focusing inward through coaching and mentoring from leaders, seniors, peers, ex-colleagues, and family. I have also been willing to take on risky or challenging assignments and deliver them successfully, such as taking up the herculean task as a Crisis Technical Program Lead for the Plonsk Strategic initiative.

Opportunities for development are always present if one is willing to stretch themselves and increase their learning bandwidth. Taking on roles or assignments that have grey areas or require out-of-the-box thinking, like the Bun Automation E2E project in Vietnam, where we split the project into four phases due to challenges in getting approval in one go, is a great way to develop.

Describe a typical day at MDLZ.

A typical day at MDLZ starts with a casual coffee-side chat followed by Gemba walks and DMS. My day involves unlearning and relearning through challenges brought forward by the team and acting quickly to find solutions. I constantly challenge the status quo and brainstorm ways to improve for the next day.

What advice would you give to someone considering a role with MDLZ, based on your own experiences and journey?

My advice to someone considering a role with MDLZ is to be a leader in what you do, no matter your position or role. Taking ownership might be challenging, but emerging as a winner is a triumphant moment, so live for this moment. Fail fast and learn faster – I see this almost every week in the Plonsk program, and it just makes me wiser day by day. Building a network is also crucial, as it might make you the first choice for upcoming opportunities. Take on smaller assignments to test your qualities before taking a big step. For example, I took up the PSM program lead in Vietnam to build connections and focus on a single initiative versus multiple tasks. After completing this, I took up the BD&E role.


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