710: Supply, Demand and Oil in the Gears | Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah, CFO, Analog Devices

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It was nightly business conversations at his parents’ dinner table that first led Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah to consider alternatives to business when it came to building a career.

“As most small business owners do, my parents worked all the time—and as with most small businesses, things could at times be financially challenging,” explains Mahendra-Rajah, who vividly recalls business rent increases, outstanding receivables, and the dynamics behind supply and demand that pervaded his parents’ dinner conversations.

Nevertheless, it was this same scrutiny of supply-and-demand dynamics that Mahendra-Rajah credits with helping him to “come full circle” and ultimately led him to business school.

At the time, Mahendra-Rajah was working full-time as a senior process engineer for chemical giant FMC Corp., a career-building stint that afforded him the real-world insights required to enrich a master’s thesis that he needed in order to complete a chemical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins.

“It was my first job out of college, and the plant manager’s M.O. was to always beat me up and demand more cost reductions and better process yields,” recalls Mahendra-Rajah, who notes that his immersion into the business side of manufacturing quickly escalated when FMC received a large order for a synthetic that the company no longer manufactured.

“I was given the task of refurbishing an old factory and getting it up and running in a matter of weeks,” remembers Mahendra-Rajah, who adds that the production of the once-discontinued synthetic led the plant manager’s mind-set to suddenly pivot.

“He was pushing me to spend as fast as I could. I was told not to negotiate with suppliers, and if I needed overtime for the maintenance workers, to ‘go for it’—schedule was paramount, cost was secondary,” explains the career finance leader, who credits the experience with helping him to open a door that he had once shut.

Says Mahendra-Rajah: “It kind of brought me back to the table with Mom and Dad and made me realize how so much of our world is really driven by supply and demand and how finance is the oil in the gears." –Jack Sweeney

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