Raising your Game - Senior Supply Officer

Client Motivation

The client was a successful Supply Chain officer of an $8 billion, publicly held manufacturing firm. Supply Chain Management was his passion and he had spent his entire business career (18 years) honing his skills in this critically important function. As a market leader, his firm had the financial strength to consolidate its market position via two highly targeted acquisitions. In fact, in the course of three years, these acquisitions effectively doubled the size of the firm. Stratman Partners Executive Coaching began working with our client shortly after their first acquisition.

With the acquisition, supply chain complexity increased significantly. Prior to the acquisitions, 70% of the $3.5 billion spend was domestically sourced. Now, 80% of the $8 billion spend was concentrated in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Different procurement processes, cultures, and commodity categories came with these acquisitions. These differences needed to be rationalized to achieve the synergy advantages anticipated in the acquisition's financial projections.

He needed to establish a common vision for the supply chain function, build the most effective team possible, drive critical alignment between the supply chain organization and the business units, and achieve significant cost savings. This all added up to a daunting task.

The new structure created a unique opportunity for our client. Based on his track record, he had the full faith and confidence of his CEO. However, the management challenges were significant. By succeeding, he would be taking "his game" to a new level.

The Coaching Relationship

The client engaged Stratman Partners Executive Coaching to help him improve his ability to work through others to allow him to focus on the big picture, which was getting bigger all the time. Upon progressing through the initial assessment phase, these were some early insights:

Towering Strengths

  • Managing Ambiguity: strong abstract thinker
  • Problem Solving: excellent problem solving skills
  • Creative: strong visioning skills

Improvement Opportunities

  • Empathy: tended to disregard the feelings of others when under pressure
  • Communication: solid but struggled with active listening under pressure
  • Balance: struggled to balance personal and professional priorities

Consolidating and integrating the supply chain function required the ability to gain the trust and confidence of several important constituencies. Ultimately, some painful changes needed to be implemented and maintaining morale was an issue. For example, to streamline the procurement process, eliminate redundancies, and improve compliance, the global organizations were to be re-organized into regional procurement centers. This meant big changes for many employees.

He also needed to develop solid relationships with the business units. This implied truly understanding their aspirations and delivering effective solutions without compromising efficiencies.

Finally, the demands of his new assignment meant international travel, extended stays away from his family, and long hours. His family played a big role in his life and he needed a more effective approach to regain some balance.

Moving Ahead

Upon working with Timbre for 18 months, he began to see some early success signs:

  • He streamlined and upgraded his management team.
  • Regional Procurement Centers were implemented.
  • Cost down targets were met: Indirect (6%) and Direct (3%).
  • Average Inventories were reduced by 15%.
  • Six Sigma: Green belt certification was earned by 50% of his employee and 100% of his management team.

Listening skills were a big opportunity. By subtly improving his listening skills, his ability to "see behind the corners" and coach his team to solve problems increased significantly. In fact, he remarked that he ultimately spent 90% of his time listening to the needs of his organization, the business units, new suppliers, and other constituencies.

With better listening, his empathy increased and he developed a reputation as a deeply committed and trustworthy leader. Empathy helped him hear what was being said, and the implications of what wasn't.

Finally, by improving his time and information management skills, he was able to ultimately reach a balance between his personal and professional priorities. While it was difficult, he managed to stay involved with his family by making the right choices at the right time.

His success continues to this day and his firm remains the dominant force in its industry.

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