Tasmin Farzana ’14 (MBA) has learned plenty of new things while working from home during quarantine. For one, there’s chess, a game she admits she hasn’t quite mastered. Another is chemistry.
Farzana, Senior Procurement Manager of Global Operations at Hanesbrands Inc., oversaw the chemical component of the company’s agreement to supply the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency with more than 20 million medical gowns. The water repellent gowns needed to be tested before use by medical professionals.
“I had to rely on my high school chemistry,” Farzana jested. “Before the agreement, we had never made gowns. The part I led was the chemical, which I’d never managed before. I had to learn quickly.”
Under normal circumstances, Farzana leads a global team and supports supply chain operations by managing direct and indirect materials for Hanesbrands products: fabric, elastics, and so on. What made this project difficult was timing.
“Usually you place the order to the supplier, but we didn’t even have six weeks. So if the gown delivery is due within a month you need everything the next day, right? So it’s not like suppliers are sitting on it for us when we place an order,” she said. “Having never managed this category I had to establish relationships with multiple global suppliers and allocate inventory immediately.”
Farzana said another challenge was navigating things like airport closures amid the spread of COVID-19. One day they’d be tracking materials on time, and the next they would be stuck in Miami.
“Here’s Bryan problem solving, right,” said Farzana. “What do you do with this situation?”
Farzana credits her time with the Bryan School for helping to prepare her for these types of professional challenges.
“The challenging projects I had, when I hire people I ask, ‘How good are you at problem-solving?’ And that’s Bryan’s motto. I absolutely love that,” she said. “My MBA projects, they were practicing what they were preaching. Those things helped me a lot.”
And it’s a good thing they did — there wasn’t much time between her last day at UNC Greensboro and her first day at Hanesbrands, Inc.
“Actually, the day of my final exams, I was walking to the parking deck and I got my Hanesbrands email that day. They were interested in an interview, it was pretty amazing,” she said. “I started at a very lowly contractor level and I was there in that position for three months and thankfully my work was noticed. I have been fortunate that I have been promoted to several positions in the past five years.”
That work has also been noticed by the Triad Business Journal, who named Farzana to their 40 Under 40 list earlier this year.
Farzana has plenty to be proud of and certainly takes pride in her work. But she said the gown project has been satisfying in a different way.
“When I look back, I’m really proud of this project that Hanes took and also I’m thankful to the Hanes leadership that they thought I’m able to lead this part of a project even without certain experience. I’m grateful to experience it during that time. My focus during that time was — this is going to help millions of people,” she said. “That drive, when you’re challenged with this type of task the whole team had this grand vision that we’re helping people. Everybody came together. It took a village.”