Today we took a trip to PWC, an accounting firm in Nicosia, where we were greeted very kindly with refreshments and some time to enjoy the beautiful view from the ninth floor of the building. The space was very interesting and quite different from any of the companies we had visited before. It had a cocktail bar, yoga balls, and various areas and seating in the space. It resembled a more welcoming and open alternative to the classic cubicle layout of an office building. This reminded me of the way that many companies in America, such as Google or Apple, are moving towards creating collaborative spaces like this for their employees because of increased productivity and employee satisfaction. We started with an introductory video and presentation that was an overview of the company as well as the schedule for our time there. It was really cool because it was shown through a hologram platform.
Then we were given two very informative presentations. The first was about supply chains and it was given by Michael Muller-Bungart, the director of digital supply chain at PWC. Much of this presentation was kind of hard for me to wrap my head around but I could tell that the company was doing some really cool stuff with supply chains. He mentioned that their goal was to be successful in connected and autonomous supply chain ecosystems. This involved many different aspects such as smart logistics flows. This is key to having savings and growth in the supply chain. Shipping companies and the involvement of maritime transportation was an example of something that falls under this category. Another interesting category was artificial-intelligence-driven supply chain management because this accelerates chain improvements and is likely to become the new norm. As of now, the scope of the decisions that AI makes are pretty basic decisions but of course, it is being continuously developed and will likely play a major role in decision-making shortly. They also focused on supply chain transparency platforms that focus on providing real-time visibility, collaboration, and optimization. Examples of this include apps and dashboards and situation rooms. It was interesting to see that engineering was pretty low on the list of digital champions and he explained this was because engineering firms major focus is on human-centered design and solving issues, not really on supply chain optimization.
The next presentation was a case study on Superhome Center given by Sotiris Petrou, the supply chain manager of the company. They supply home improvement and DIY resources in 20 categories of items. It had six stores, 3 in Nicosia, and 1 each in Paphos, Limassol, and Larnaca. It is also possible to order items online and have them delivered to your home. Understanding the shipping logistics on this was really interesting. Certain regions of the island, like the mountains, might cost upwards of 100 euros to have items shipped too. However, charging a customer this much for shipping would not be a wise decision and would end up in the loss of customers. Therefore, up charging customers who are really close to their stores will create profits that can then be used to subsidize the costs for the further away customers. It was also interesting to hear about all the things that impact their supply chains, like transportation and shipping costs, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine.
After this presentation, three stations were set up about various topics while food was catered. The three topics were BXT (Business, Experience, and Technology), Blockchain in supply chains, and the Circular Economy. The station that I spent most of my time at was the one about BXT. He spoke a lot about the human-centered design process that their company uses which I found really interesting. After taking the Art of Making class this past semester, I have found a huge appreciation for human-centered design. I loved hearing terminologies from this class like design thinking, iterations, and ideation used in the context of an explanation for real-world business practices. He heavily emphasized the need for everything, whether it be the engineering aspects or the business aspects, to be based on humans and their needs or desires. I was also able to have a nice one-on-one conversation with a man who worked in bioengineering. I learned about his very diverse background that started in architecture and grew to additive manufacturing. He had a lot of knowledge about different fields and how they worked together and gave me some really good advice about my future. I told him how for the longest time I thought I wanted to do research but now my interests are moving more towards design and innovation, especially with medical products. He said that he swore by his interdisciplinary background which allows him to work with all kinds of people in all kinds of areas and he recommended that I try to structure my education in a way that allows this flexibility.
After we met with PWC, we headed backed to Nicosia for some free time. I went to the Cyprus Museum and the Observatory at the Rooftop Museum and also had a delicious lunch at a popular street food restaurant in the Old City. We went around to some shops where I bought really nice souvenirs for my family and friends. With our farewell dinner this evening, our second to last day in Cyprus, unfortunately, comes to an end.