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December 14, 2017
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Leading the way toward the future

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The recipients of CSCMP's inaugural Emerging Leader Award—Keiko Arai, Florian Schick, and Amanda Tolhurst—talk about their experiences in supply chain management and offer advice to their peers.

The future of supply chain management will be shaped by the best and brightest, those under-30-year-old professionals who will bring new ideas and innovations to the discipline. To recognize individuals who promise to be among the next generation of supply chain leaders, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) recently launched its first-ever Emerging Leader Award.

"The future of our industry lies with today's young professionals who will be tomorrow's leaders," said Rick Blasgen, CSCMP president and chief executive officer, in announcing the award. "It is important that we recognize the contributions of emerging talent and the positive impact they have on our profession today and will continue to have in the future."

The winners of the inaugural award—Keiko Arai, Florian Schick, and Amanda Tolhurst—were honored at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference in Denver, Colorado, USA. They were chosen because of their personal career achievements and their record of accomplishment in the supply chain profession, as evidenced by awards, peer recognition, industry publications, and recommendations, according to CSCMP Young Professionals Committee Chair John Bowersox.

CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly Editor James A. Cooke asked the award winners about their careers and aspirations.

KEIKO ARAI
Keiko Arai recently accepted a position in global outsourcing with Bell Helicopter after completing Textron's two-year Leadership Development Program in Integrated Supply Chain Management. Her work experience includes internships with Farmland and Kraft in such areas as logistics, sales, and merchandising.

A Kansas native, Arai received a Bachelor of Science degree in supply chain management with an international business concentration from the University of Kansas. She has studied and worked in Japan, France, Peru, and Mexico and is fluent in Japanese, French, and Spanish.

Arai's passion lies in international business. She hopes to pursue a career in global business expansion and development in emerging markets.

What attracted you to the supply chain management profession?
I read a book in high school called The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli and instantly became fascinated by the complexity of supply chain management. I love the continuous-improvement mindset. It's global, "big picture," creative, ever-changing, and cutting-edge.

What was your biggest surprise about the supply chain field when you entered the work force?
Every industry is different and has its own, unique supply chain challenges. There is no "one size fits all" sort of best practice. I interned in the fast-paced food retail industry while in college. After graduating, I took a position in the aerospace industry. I first tried to implement what I learned from the retail world in the aerospace world, ignorant of how different the two industries were from each other. While it takes minutes to produce and pack a box of Oreos, it can take months to years to build an aircraft constructed of thousands of parts. This makes for two completely different supply chains and lead times.

Based on your own experience, do you have any advice for young professionals about how to succeed in supply chain management?
Your direct supervisor plays a tremendous role in your career and development. ... If possible, try to pair yourself up with a supervisor who not only delegates responsibilities well, but can also be your career coach. If professional athletes have coaches, working professionals should as well!

I also think that you should do what you love and are passionate about. ... It's too easy to give up on something you don't care about. You will be more determined, challenged, and fulfilled when you do what you love. Everyone should be doing his or her dream job.

Do people in supply chain management have any misperceptions about today's young professionals?
Yes, but in all honesty, there is a lot of truth to the current perceptions of today's young professionals. The first company I worked for out of college, my manager said to me, "What you know is theory, and what I know is reality." Many young professionals barge in with fresh eyes and new ideas thinking we can immediately make a difference in the company. Yes, we are stubborn, impatient, easily bored, and want to quickly get promoted. With the right manager, such negatively perceived characteristics and attitude can be turned around and used in meaningful projects that will generate impactful results.

How do you think your generation views supply chain management as a profession?
When I was in college, many students viewed supply chain management as "dirty manufacturing work." Working in a manufacturing facility isn't viewed as being nearly as glamorous as working on Wall Street. A lot of people don't realize that supply chain management goes beyond operations management.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself leading cross-functional teams in global "greenfield" acquisitions and joint-venture projects in emerging markets.

FLORIAN SCHICK
Florian Schick was recently named head of strategy and business development for Merck Serono in Germany. Previously, he was an associate at McKinsey & Company's Supply Chain Management Practice in its Frankfurt, Germany, office. Before McKinsey he spent three years at Pfizer as manager of distribution models and channel strategies.

Schick holds a master's degree in supply chain management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States and the University of Zaragoza in Spain. He earned his bachelor's degree in general management from the European Business School in Germany and ITESM in Mexico.

Based on his experience with health-care supply chains in Africa, he wrote his master's thesis on emerging market strategies for pharmaceutical companies. In addition to his native language of German, he is fluent in English and Spanish.

What attracted you to the field of supply chain management?
It was a desire to learn how companies and industries truly work from end to end by achieving a cross-functional understanding. I also wanted to understand how to overcome the "silo thinking" that can be observed in so many organizations.

What was your biggest surprise about the field of supply chain management when you ‚?®entered the work force?
That continuous learning is a key to success, and that people skills and "soft" factors do matter. I also think that to prepare decisions properly, analytical tools and capabilities are a prerequisite today. In addition, to be successful at implementing decisions, you must have engagement and commitment across various levels of the organization.

Based on your own experience, do you have any advice for young professionals about how to succeed in supply chain management?
Broaden your horizon across countries and industries. And seek challenges early on in your careers.

Do you have any predictions about where the industry is headed in the‚?®next 10 years?
I see mega trends like the rise of digitization and "big data" shaping the field. I'm curious about how advanced collaboration between companies in the same and adjacent industries will develop.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Taking responsibility in and contributing to the progress of the health-care and pharmaceutical industry.

AMANDA TOLHURST
Amanda Tolhurst has been with Whirlpool Corp. for more than seven years. As the senior manager of internal materials operations at Whirlpool's operation in Ohio, she is responsible for the strategic and day-to-day management and delivery of parts to dryer manufacturing lines. Prior to this position she held various supply chain responsibilities at Whirlpool Canada, including management of the forecasting and supply teams and management of distribution operations and outsourced logistics relationships.

Tolhurst holds a Bachelor of Science in logistics and transportation from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University. She chaired the Supply Chain and Logistics Association (SCL) of Canada's annual conference in both 2011 and 2012, and received SCL's 2008 President's Award for her work on a network consolidation project at Whirlpool Canada.

What attracted you to the supply chain management profession?
The biggest attraction was the variety of challenges available to someone with a logistics degree—not only with the number of different companies that you could go work for, but the vast number of different jobs within those companies, whether it be forecasting, operations, manufacturing, transportation, customs, customer service, [and many others].

What was your biggest surprise about the supply chain field when you entered the work force?
The biggest surprise about the field was the similarities in how things get from point A to point B across different industries. Although a lot of the basics are the same, it's how well you implement them and challenge yourself to continuously improve that drives success.

Based on your own experience, do you have any advice for young professionals about how to succeed in supply chain management?
The biggest piece of advice that I would give is "be flexible." Be willing to try different areas in supply chain management and also be willing to step outside your comfort zone and do something on the business side to gain wider experience. Never say no to an opportunity to learn something new.

Do people in supply chain management have any misperceptions about today's young professionals?
I do not think there are any major misperceptions. Regardless of age, you have to prove yourself and earn the trust and respect of your colleagues.

Do you have any predictions about where the industry is headed in the next 10 years?
The industry is going to continue to get more creative as technology continues to change how we think and do normal, everyday things. Companies are experimenting with new equipment and new ways of moving products.

How do you think your generation views supply chain management as a profession?
I think more younger people are starting to think of supply chain management as a good career path, which is different than it may have been in the past. It's starting to become a better-known choice for business majors.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself leading a global supply chain organization that is dynamic, growing, and continuously challenging itself to improve.

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