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A New CEO for LEGO with an Operations and Supply Chain Management Background

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An area that the Supply Chain Matters blog has focused on since our inception is bringing visibility to how a background in the many functional areas that make-up supply chain management can lead to other senior business leadership roles, including that of the CEO. We, as well as others, have highlighted CEO appointments involving corporations such as Apple, BMW, Dow Chemical, General Motors, McCormack Foods, among others. The key theme often comes down to not only positioning one’s career but also having a deep understanding and appreciation for the linkage of manufacturing and supply chain capability to required business outcomes.

Once again, we highlight another appointment, one involving internationally renowned toy maker LEGO Group, and the recent appointment of Bali Padda as its new CEO. Mr. Padda assumes the top role from former CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp who will now head up the new entity, LEGO Brand Group. Business Network CNBC’s byline regarding this appointment of this closely-held company was the significance of the first non-Danish CEO in the company’s history.

Padda’s has been at LEGO for 14 years and his most recent role was that of Chief Operations Officer. Prior roles included Head of Logistics, Head of Supply Chain and Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain. He joined the Danish company with a customer service and supplier relations management background.

The corporate press release includes a quote from Niels Jacobsen, Chairman of the Board of LEGO Group which provides a great reinforcement of required leadership skills:

Bali Padda has a fantastic record of accomplishment in the LEGO Group with more than 14 years of experience especially within supply chain functions, but more recently also focusing on people and organizational development. Bali has demonstrated an ability to drive the changes required in operations through the significant growth we have experienced during the past years. I am confident that Bali will continue to develop the company in close cooperation with management.”

As many of our readers can well relate, LEGO’s business model is one driven by seasonality of product demand. More than half of the company’s annual revenues are derived during the current holiday fulfillment period. Toy industry supply chains with high seasonality are highly distribution sensitive with inventory and working capital management as key competencies for assuring profitability growth. The company’s new strategic goal is to extend its brand and distribution reach across the globe and has recently opened a new manufacturing facility in China to supply product demand needs across Asia.

Supply Chain Matters extends are congratulations, best wishes and Tip of the Hat Award to new LEGO CEO, Bali Padda

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2016. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Global Expansion of the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program

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In a number of ongoing editorial commentaries Supply Chain Matters has amplified the growing talent gaps that are today impacting multiple industry supply chains. As more baby boomers reach retirement age, supply chain and procurement executives are looking with trepidation at a looming talent gap. The industry needs an influx of fresh faces, especially professionals drawn from the Millennial generation — people born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.

In May of 2014, The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and conceived and jointly sponsored an initiative titled the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Program. The stated goal of this program is to advance the future of the supply chain profession thru recognition of up and coming professionals making significant contributions within multi-industry procurement roles.

For each year of this program, we at Supply Chain Matters have been delighted to have the opportunity to provide individual recognition to annual honorees including the recent 2016 complement of rising stars. It has been extraordinary for us to ascertain the level of responsibility, passion and overall leadership that such young professionals have already achieved in their careers, along with their ongoing enthusiasm for gaining job satisfaction in their roles in sourcing, procurement and supply chain management.

We therefore wanted to pass along to our readers that as of this year, the program is now being expanded globally. Current procurement professionals are invited to nominate outstanding practitioners, 30 years old or younger, for broader global recognition. A selection committee in-turn evaluates the nominations to select 30 rising stars.

In addition to now having global recognition, each new rising star will receive complimentary one-year membership in ISM where they can take benefit of the member benefits afforded to procurement professionals.  In addition, will offer winners and their sponsors an all-expense paid trip to the ISM 2017 Annual Conference to be held in Orlando, along with a Supplier Discovery and Evaluation lunch and learn session, customized for their organization and team. There is also the opportunity for some of the designated stars to be profiled and interviewed on this blog for broader supply-chain wide audience recognition.

We want to congratulate the program co-sponsors for the global-wide expansion of the Thirty Under 30 Rising Stars Program.

Further information and access to nomination forms can be obtained at this web link.

 Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor

Supply Chain Matters Highlights from ISM 2016 Conference- Part Three

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Last week, this supply chain industry analyst attended the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) 2016 annual conference held in Indianapolis. This is the conference where global purchasing and supply management professionals from large and smaller organizations alike gather for added learning, education and insights related to supply management and in particular, its role in contributing to required business outcomes.

Readers can view ISM 2016 conference highlights in our prior Part One and Part Two postings.

During our second day at the conference, this author had the opportunity to participate in a press conference and hear from five of this year’s 30 Under30 Rising Supply Chain Stars, a program introduced by ISM and ThomasNet last year.  In previous postings, we have shined a light on this program along with its designees.

During the special press event, ISM CEO Tom Derry indicated that the organization could not be more pleased with the success and visibility has garnered among the purchasing and supply management community. Representatives from program co-sponsor ThomasNet expressed similar equal praise for the ongoing visibility of this program. With an average age of 27 and delivering more than $10 million in cost savings from just a single individual, this year’s recipients span industry settings ranging from manufacturing to education, medical devices, IT and government.

During the interactive press conference, the panel of five recipients who attended the conference indicated that their generation is less concerned with an 8 to 5 work week structure favoring more a flex time schedule that allows for required family and personal time.  I asked the panel whether mentorship from an older or experienced generation was considered important. The response was that this is absolutely essential, but clarified as to sponsorship rather than mentorship. Having a sponsor to be able to bounce ideas or ask open questions was noted as very essential to their current accomplishments in their roles. They further described themselves as a generation without borders, not encumbered by organizational barriers.

On the topic of technology, the panel indicated that often, their biggest challenge is access to data, particularly involving resident ERP systems that are “older than me.” They articulated that timely information is needed to make informed decisions, that current information cycles are far faster requiring more timely data and information which is often frustrating to find.  The panel further indicated that their generation prefers knowledge on-demand, utilizing micro-learning and E-learning on the fly to gain knowledge of unfamiliar processes or product areas.  They therefore seek and expect an environment that provides such forms of knowledge management tools.

We continue to be impressed and blown-away with the scope of responsibilities being managed by these Millennials.  Job responsibilities of all 30 of this year’s designees include roles as Contract Administrators, Managers, Program Managers, Buyer and Senior Buyer, Sourcing Managers, Team Leads, Improvement Leader, Category Analyst, Logistics Support Supervisor or Director, Global Change Management Lead, or Director of U.S. Operations among others.

Readers can gain an overview of all of this year’s 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars by clicking on this dedicated program web site.


This Editor had the opportunity to once again conduct an interview with ISM CEO Tom Derry. Our conversation touched on a number of today’s burning topics for supply management professionals. Derry noted that the procurement role has indeed become more strategic to businesses and ISM continues to work on continuous learning and training programs that include more strategic business and broader supply chain management competencies.

He reiterated the announcement at this year’s conference, of the ISM launch of an online learning initiative termed eISM, a program designed to support the increasingly busy lifestyles of today’s procurement professionals. The offering features a number of distinct learning options, varying from self-led learning modules to guided learning sessions with instructors, fostering more convenient learning in a way best suited to personal learning style.

From a broader skills perspective, our interview included the need for added competencies in driving environmental and social supply chain sustainability efforts and we both touched upon efforts shared by PepsiCo, Fed Ex and others at this year’s sessions.

We discussed this year’s J. Shipman Award winner, Tim Fiore, one of the most prestigious ISM recognition awards for procurement. This year’s recipient provides an example of a role model beyond cost savings, which Derry believes is becoming more desired across various industry settings. He reiterated that Mr. Fiore holds two masters degrees along with life-long learning in procurement transformation which he believes is becoming more of the model among today’s leading chief procurement officers.

Unfortunately, because of the schedule constraints involved with last week’s array of simultaneous conferences, I was forced to miss the final day of presentations at ISM 2016.

We encourage readers who attended this year’s ISM 2016 to share their own perceptions as well.

Bob Ferrari

Noteworthy Senior Supply Chain Executive Changes at J.M. Smucker

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We at Supply Chain Matters are always on the lookout for important supply chain related learning, insights and accomplishments. Thus, what caught our eye was a recent announcement related to senior supply chain leadership changes at consumer foods producer J.M. Smucker.

The company announced the pending retirement of Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Logistics and Operations, Dennis J. Armstrong following 37 years with the company.  Mr. Armstrong will retire from his corporate officer role in September.

How extraordinary is that in today’s world of ever changing job roles and continuous employers.

Noted is that Mr. Armstrong has served in a number of leadership roles that have spanned logistics, operations and purchasing during his long career.

According to the announcement, Mr. Armstrong’s supply chain leadership responsibility will be assumed by two other existing J.M. Smucker executives.

James R. Ray will assume the role of Senior Vice President of Operations. Day, with 27 years at the company, was the Vice President of Coffee Operations for the past seven years and thus assumes the new senior operations management role from a line-of-business background. For readers unfamiliar with Smucker’s coffee business, it includes the retail production and distribution of Dunkin Donuts branded coffee, among other brands. Prior operations management roles for Mr. Ray were within consumer and natural foods businesses.

Robert D. Ferguson assumes the role of Senior Vice President Supply Chain.  Mr. Ferguson is currently Vice President, Integrated Business and Program Management and came to Smucker from the 2015 acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands. Integrated business and program management responsibilities usually connote organizational transformation leadership roles. In today’s consumer goods focused supply chain, transformation remains continuous.

Both Mr. Day and Mr. Ferguson will now report directly to Smucker’s soon to be President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Smucker, and thus will be members of the executive leadership team. Senior leadership changes included other executives as well leading to a revised executive leadership team.

Thus, yet another example of the strategic importance that operations and supply chain has garnered in supporting and delivering expected business outcomes.

While we often write about such leadership shifts, we believe it is important for Supply Chain Matters to be able to reference actual occurrence, especially in an industry that is dealing with significant business strategy challenges affecting products and changing consumer needs.

As for Mr. Armstrong, we extend our best wishes for an enjoyable and rewarding retirement after what looks to be rewarding operations and supply chain leadership career at a single employer.

Bob Ferrari

Congratulations to Winners of SCM World Supply Chain Power of the Profession Awards

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SCM World announced winners of its second annual Power of the Profession awards and manufacturers Intel and The Dow Chemical Company garnered the top awards. The winners were judged on delivering outstanding business value and wider societal impact through supply chain management.

Intel was cited as the Supply Chain Talent Breakthrough of the Year award for leadership development programs including Women in Supply Chain Excellence (WISE) which is focused on development, retention and advancement of high potential female professionals. Through the WISE initiative, 49 percent of the participants have moved to new jobs, a retention rate of 99 percent has been achieved and through individual efforts, the participants have saved Intel more than $800 million.

The Dow Chemical Company was cited as for the Supply Chain Breakthrough of the Year award for its re-inventive strategy that transformed the company’s focus from efficiency to one of a focus on customer service and experience. The approach included enhanced metrics and a product portfolio aimed at addressing needs of customers, suppliers and the communities in which Dow Chemical does business.

Other winners were noted as:

AstraZeneca for Supply Chain Societal Breakthrough of the Year

Intel for Diversity and Engagement Breakthrough of the Year

The Coca Cola Company as Supply Chain Capability Breakthrough of the Year

Volvo Car Group for Leadership Capability Breakthrough of the Year.


Supply Chain Matters extends it congratulations to all of these cited winners for their outstanding efforts in advancing supply chain management learning and business practice.

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