subscribe: Posts | Comments | Email

Supply Chain Matters Interviews Rising Supply Chain Management Stars

Comments Off

In a number of prior 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 ThomasNet jointly sponsored initiative titled the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Program. Supply Chain Matters called specific attention to this program in an early April commentary. The stated goal of this joint initiative was to advance the future of the supply chain profession thru recognition of up and coming professionals making significant contributions within multi-industry procurement roles.

As a follow-up to our April commentary, this Editor was provided the distinct opportunity to interview two of the nominees included in this year’s 30 Under 30 Rising Stars program. They were Amy Schwantner, currently serving in the role as a Manager of Strategic Sourcing for CBS Corporation in New York City, and Wesley Whitney currently in the role of Sourcing Specialist at Enterprise Products in Houston Texas.

In our conversation, we touched upon a several areas in our discussions with these noteworthy 2015 Stars candidates.

Both Wesley and Amy indicated no prior detailed knowledge for the areas of procurement and supply chain management while pursuing undergraduate studies. Wesley indicated that his awareness to the field stemmed from his grandmother, whose career included a purchasing role at a local school district. Later, his interest was initially peaked from a friend who was pursuing a career in the field. Currently, Wesley’s responsibilities now include forging strategic agreements with suppliers.

Amy, who acquired an undergraduate degree in business administration, entered the field of procurement after a role as a financial analyst within a healthcare system. She indicated that she did not know what supply chain management really was while in her undergraduate studies, but now thoroughly enjoys her role.  According to Amy, every day brings different challenges and at the end of the day, she truly feels that she is making a direct contribution to various CBS business needs. Wesley expressed a similar satisfaction, indicating that he feels that his role is not solely pushing transactions, but making a discernable difference in both satisfying business needs and in building more strategic and collaborative supplier relationships. Wesley always strives to engage his stakeholders to learn exactly what their needs are, and works to craft a supplier contract that will deliver on such needs. He noted he truly enjoys what he does every day and desires to someday expand his horizon in other areas of supply chain management, both in pursuing a Master’s program, and in broader exposure to areas such as logistics and transportation.

Regarding what excites each of these Stars, Wesley indicated his belief that he is delivering bottom-line value and impact to the table, something that cannot be said for other roles assumed by those in his generation. Amy expressed a similar view along with her pleasure at the opportunity to contribute to so many different business and functional groups that make-up CBS today. She has opportunities to contribute to advertising, human resources, finance, legal  and media teams for their supplier sourcing and services needs. She has exposure and learning within new areas such as multi-currency requirements as well as building trust among project stakeholder.

Regarding occasional frustrations, both pointed to the challenges of working at large organizations where lots of stakeholders express different motivations and needs. Working in areas of supplier sourcing and procurement, both have to balance the needs of cost savings and P&L attainment with building stronger relationships with key suppliers. Wesley observed that supply chain has tended to lag in advanced technology adoption which he would like to see accelerated.

Both of our interviewees expressed the value for having active organizational mentors.  Wesley noted the value of an intra-company rotational program supported by his employer that has a mentorship foundation while Amy noted that a mentoring system is fundamental for learning. According to her Stars biography, it took Amy just 18 months to rise from  a role of analyst to one of manager for CBS.  Amy attributes that accomplishment in-part to active support and mentoring. Both indicated that they have not experienced overt millennial clash but instead experience supportive environments that let them mature at their pace.

Regarding futures, both Stars expressed their individual enthusiasm in learning even more about the various different aspects of supply chain management and in continuing to advance in this area. Amy noted that procurement provides everything millennials desire in a career in terms of day-to-day challenges, more responsibility and the ability to make a day-to-day difference for the organization.  She indicated that she does not hesitate to recommend her generational peers to explore and pursue their careers in procurement and supply chain. Wesley urged his millennial peers to get involved and explore the vast opportunities provided in this field.

Overall, from speaking to both, this Editor was equally impressed with the maturity and communication skills expressed by just two of these 2015 nominated 30 Under 30 Stars.  Both serve as great ambassadors for this program and for the next generation of supply chain leadership. Consider active mentorship and support of rising stars within your organization.

Bob Ferrari

Syracuse University’s Whitman School Announces Annual Salzberg Award Recipients

Comments Off

The H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management earlier this month presented its Annual Harry E. Salzberg Memorial Award. The Salzberg award is noted as the oldest supply chain award in the United States and was created in 1949 with a gift from Murray Salzberg in honor of his father Harry E. Salzberg, a transportation entrepreneur. 

The announced winner of this year’s 65th Annual Salzberg award was Cummins, Inc., a global based designer manufacturer and distributor of Cummins Recipient of Syracuse University Salzberg Award.diesel and natural gas engines and related technologies. Accepting the award on behalf of Cummins was Theodusia Rush, Executive Director of Global Supply Chain Planning and Logistics. Presenting the award on behalf of the University is Gary La Point, Professor of Practice and Director of the Salzberg Program at Syracuse University.

Established in 1949, the annual Salzberg award is presented to an organizationor individual to recognize innovation and leadershipin transportation, logistics and supply chain management. The presentation event is a central component of Whitman’s Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management, a well noted academic program focused on preparing students in supply chain management.

This year’s Salzberg event further showcased the best and brightest of Whitman’s undergraduate and graduate SCM students. Cory Sanderson ’15 M.S., Alice Chen ’15 B.S., Prashanth Kammili ’16 MBA, Dinesh Ganesan ’15 M.S. and Puneet Kanchi ’16 MBA delivered a round-table presentation on how Omni-channels are transforming the retail paradigms.

The Zinsmeister Award was presented to Kenneth Dick ’15 B.S., and Lauryn Nicole Kulkarni ’15 B.S. received the Robert H. Brethen Prize. Both of these awards recognize outstanding academic achievement.

Supply Chain Matters Tip of the Hat Award


Supply Chain Matters extends its hearty “Tip of the Hat”  recognition to all of this year’s Salzberg event award participants.  Well done!

Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor

Results Announced in APICS Student Team Competition

Comments Off

A little over a week ago, Supply Chain Matters extended praise and an enthusiastic Tip-of-the-Hat to supply chain and operations professional association APICS Supply Chain Council for its efforts in sponsoring, APICS- professional association for supply chain and operations managementwhat we believe to be as the first international student case study competition in supply chain management.  This competition has involved 166 university teams from around the world, consisting of 4-5 students per team, competing on their knowledge and enthusiasm in the broad topics related to supply chain management. The Fresh Connection Global Student contest challenged students to improve ROI for a fictional fruit juice company with average simulation results indicating a 24 percent ROI increase.

Earlier today we received word of the winners in this student competition conducted on Sunday, prior to the start of the APICS Annual Conference which wrapped-up this evening.

An APICS press release reports that the overall student competition winner was the team representing Sun Yat Sen University of China. Yes, China.

HEC Montreal and California State University teams were named second and third place winners, respectively. Each winning team was awarded a scholarship to aid in their continued studies.

Supply Chain Matters extends our congratulations to the three winning teams and our shout-out best wishes to all of the teams that have competed in this competition.  We trust that it was fun, exciting, and peaked interest in becoming a future supply chain management leader. You are welcomed to share your impressions of this competition in the Comments section attached to this posting.

 Good luck and best wishes to each of you.

As promised, this commentary is categorized under our blog distinguished supply chain management professionals search category.

Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor


Let’s All Recognize the Unspoken Heroes of the Holiday Season

Comments Off

We pen this Supply Chain Matters posting on Sunday, December 22, on the very last weekend before the Christmas holiday.  This is the absolute peak of the holiday buying surge, as online shoppers make their last minute purchases, assuming that delivery prior to Christmas is a given.

This is the weekend that all of us, supply chain or consumer alike, need to extend a huge shout-out to all the logistics, transportation and delivery professionals who have again performed in an extraordinary manner.  Included  in that recognition are the planning and inventory management teams that have scrambled to deploy inventory across various fulfillment channels.

This has been an especially challenging year.  The period between the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas, where the bulk of holiday buying occurs, was shortened by one full week from previous years.  In the United States, severe winter storms impacted many parts of the country, causing transportation delays and perhaps motivating other shoppers to perform the remainder of their holiday shopping online.  That has stressed and already highly stressed logistics infrastructure.  Even as we pen this posting, an ice storm is moving along the northeast United States threatening to cause additional delays.  The timing could not be worse.

The latest edition of Bloomberg Businessweek features a timely cover story, Can UPS Save Christmas?  The article profiles Scott Abell, the director of Peak planning for UPS, who is known internally as “Mr. Peak.” Abell is responsible for insuring the all of UPS resources are adequately planned to handle any expected holiday rush. As the Bloomberg authors note: “Mr. Peak’s job, in effect, is to fulfill the Internet’s promise of instant gratification.”

That says it all.

Assisting Abel and his planning team is the UPS Contingency team headed by Steve Merchant. That team has to respond when all of the best laid plans are upset, or when weather or unplanned needs cause glitches.  The contingency department has 18 planes positioned that can take off on 30 minutes’ notice to plug holes in delivery schedule commitments or accommodate last-minute requests from shippers.

Tomorrow, UPS could process and handle as much as 3.2 million packages, nearly twice that of any other period.  The current bad weather is not going to help, nor will last-minute requests from retailers to ship goods overnight.  This very weekend, and perhaps the next two days, the UPS Worldport will be working double shifts to accommodate our needs as consumers for instant gratification.

Beyond UPS are other professionals working at FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and other logistics and transportation carriers, who often do not get the recognition they deserve.  They all collectively work their butts off so that consumer’s young and all can celebrate with gifts, holiday cheer and special foods.

We at Supply Chain Matters extend a huge shout-out to all logistics and customer fulfillment professionals who consistently perform beyond all expectations, in cold weather, winter storms, and among crazy holiday drivers and traffic jams, to insure that the goods are delivered for the holidays. They are all clearly distinguished supply chain management professionals.

While you go about your business and enjoy the holiday events these next few days, if you encounter these professionals on the roads, sidewalks or business establishments, please acknowledge them with a hearty “thanks” and a huge “Thumbs-up”.              thumps_up

This year, they deserve it more than ever.

Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor

A Thumbs-Up for McCormick and its CEO

Comments Off

Earlier this month The Baltimore Sun published an article describing how Alan Wilson, the CEO of McCormick & Company not only personally responded to an email from a consumer, but offered to have his supply chain team search the company’s warehouse for supply of a previous discontinued seasoning product.

This article describes how the parents of a five-year-old Atlanta girl were disappointed to discover that their favorite spice was suddenly missing from grocery store shelves.  Parents of small children can readily relate, since the five year old would not eat any fish at all without this seasoning. As a last resource, they sent a direct email to the CEO of McCormick which was answered the same day. It seems that the parent’s email resonated with Wilson who indicated that he had to re-locate his family many times in his career and knew all too well how kids get focused on specific routines.

Within a week, the discontinued spice was located in a warehouse and the entire available supply was shipped to these parents at no-cost providing them a lifetime supply of the product.

Supply Chain Matters has previously featured commentary regarding Alan Wilson.  In a May 2011 commentary highlighting speakers of the Supply Chain World North America conference sponsored by the Supply Chain Council, we noted that Wilson’s career background is anchored in roles in supply chain management and was great to observe a CEO who could also clearly articulate the firm’s strategic business goals in terms of required impacts on the firm’s supply chain.  Another important strength brought forward was McCormick’s strong emphasis and reinforcement of corporate culture being the fabric of the company, including its investment in people.  During the darkest days of the past global recession, McCormick continued to invest in people and in benefit programs. That strategy continues to pay dividends in corporate culture.

thumps_upSupply Chain Matters therefore extends our Thumbs-Up recognition for McCormick and its CEO Alan Wilson, for demonstrating true individual customer responsiveness.


Positive Transformation Underway Within Kraft Integrated Supply Chain

Comments Off

In August of 2011, consumer product goods producer Kraft Foods made a surprising announcement that included significant global supply chain implications.  The company announced that it would split into two independent public companies, one to be focused on a global snacks business with the other being the company’s core North American grocery business. The snacks business unit, which was subsequently named Mondelez International has responsibility for $32 billion in global revenues while Kraft Foods Group is responsible for more than half that amount, namely $18 billion in revenues. The former Kraft North American grocery business umbrellas 9 major brands including names such Kraft Cheese, Cracker Barrel,  Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Maxwell House coffee, and Oscar Mayer hot dogs and meats.  Supply Chain Matters posted a recent commentary regarding supply chain challenges at Mondelez, and in this posting, we reflect on Kraft Food Group.

In January of 2012, Supply Chain Matters posted a commentary concerning the implications of the corporate split on each company’s supply chain and supporting systems. An important indication of the critical contribution of supply chain management led to the decision to have leadership for both of the split integrated supply chain organizations to have direct reporting relationship to respective company CEO’s.  At the time, the Chief Supply Chain Officer of the former singular Kraft was recruited to lead the integrated supply chain of Mondelez, and leadership for Kraft Food was initially classified as open.

As is often the case with large mergers or acquisitions, our commentary wondered aloud what the impact of having to split out shared business processes and systems would be for both companies. We also pointed to specific differences in business strategy and outcomes that each of the supply chain organizations had to overcome.

Last week, while attending the S&OP Innovation Summit held in Boston, we were able to peek into the new chapter for the Kraft Food integrated supply chain team and to state the least, we were tremendously impressed.  Specifically, we witnessed Robert (Bob) Gorski, Executive Vice President of Integrated Supply Chain for Kraft Foods articulate the supply chain transformation that is underway. Gorski landed at Kraft in March of this year after initially retiring from a 32 year supply chain related career at Procter& Gamble. As Gorski describes, that retirement lasted a mere 3 weeks. He apparently wasted no time in concluding that in spite of internal beliefs, a holistic transformation was needed across the Kraft North America supply chain.

Processes needed to be simplified, streamlined and integrated.  Gorski and his current leadership team have outlined a transformation which is termed “Symphony”, one sheet of music for all. The powerful analogy used was a marathon, not a sprint, in the ways work gets done and how businesses are run. Gorski leans heavily on Vice President, Process Transformation, Rajan Nagarajan who came to Kraft with a track record in driving process change.

The presentation described product demand and supply processes touched literally 60 different times with little effect on forecast accuracy. Supply chain wide metrics were at odds with individual plant and functional metrics, some in direct conflict. There was a lack of a fixed execution planning window with 60 percent of plan changes occurring in the execution window.  Production lines, on average, were forced to shutdown every 4 minutes because of various maintenance or setup issues due to inconsistent process specifications. Gorski articulately described the new goal as moving from metrics in isolation to metrics as part of a performance culture.

After the former single company invested what was described as $700 million in a global SAP ERP rollout, much of the systems were customized or augmented globally. The corporate split has caused the awareness for the need for more streamlined SAP standardization. Plans are underway to integrate 25 major platforms to integrated demand and supply planning, order management, procurement, and manufacturing control.

This author has been involved in various aspects of supply chain management for over 30 years.  Thus, I have witnessed many a supply chain or operations leader. After witnessing Bob Gorski articulate a supply chain transformation plan, there is no doubt in my mind that Kraft Foods and its associated supply chain team will be the beneficiaries. You can sense a leader in his or her’s presence, style and charisma.

Readers can expect to read of positive transformation and business outcomes emanating from the Kraft integrated supply chain team in the months to come. At the beginning of this year, Supply Chain Matters began a new series of calling out distinguished supply chain management professionals. We were impressed enough to now include Bob Gorski in this category.

Bob Ferrari

« Previous Entries