CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
January 22, 2018
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On the rise

Although still relatively new to their careers, the recipients of this year's CSCMP Emerging Leader Award are already making an impact on the supply chain profession.

Now in its fourth year, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Emerging Leader Award has proved once again that the future of supply chain management is in excellent hands. Despite their relatively short time in the profession, this year's award recipients—Diego De la Garza, Brian Jacobson, and Paul Rohrbaugh—have made significant contributions to the field while focusing on solving real-world problems. The three were chosen because of their personal career accomplishments and their record of achievement in the supply chain profession, as evidenced by awards, peer recognition, and recommendations.

Their current positions illustrate how varied the profession is today. De la Garza is an associate director at Source One Management Services, a provider of procurement services, while Jacobson is a strategic account manager at the third-party logistics company C.H. Robinson. Rohrbaugh, for his part, co-founded the simulation consulting and training company Sterling Simulation at the age of 26, after working as a process-improvement consultant at PepsiCo.

The award winners were honored at CSCMP's 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Before the conference, Supply Chain Quarterly Senior Editor Susan Lacefield asked them to reflect on their careers so far as well as their future aspirations. Her interviews with De la Garza and Jacobson appear below. (Rohrbaugh was unable to participate by press time; his interview will be published on our website at a later date.)

Brian Johnson

In addition to his role as a strategic account manager at C.H. Robinson, Jacobson manages the company's Global Accounts Center in Phoenix, Arizona. While at C.H. Robinson, he has worked on many customer projects, focusing on solution design, network optimization, transportation management, and merger integrations. Jacobson graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in supply chain management. In 2015, he earned the APICS Supply Chain Professional designation.

What attracted you to supply chain management as a profession?
I enrolled at ASU as an engineering major, but midway through my second year I changed to supply chain. At the time, I felt like engineering would be too theoretical, and I wanted to do something that could make a more immediate impact within a company. My thoughts were cemented during my senior year at ASU when we partnered with Target for a case study focused on network optimization. The cross-functional nature of that case study, combined with the analytical approach to a solution, appealed to me and drove my excitement for the industry.

What surprised you about the supply chain field when you entered the workforce?
The thing that surprised me most was how few people in supply chain roles had degrees related to supply chain or logistics. Most of the people I was working with had entered these roles out of necessity, not because they were passionate about the industry. Supply chain as a science is still a very young discipline, which means that there's more opportunity for young professionals to be thought leaders within their organizations as well as within the industry.

Are there any projects or assignments you've worked on that you're particularly proud of?
Over the past seven years, I've had a chance to drive change in many of my clients' supply chains, but the most exciting one has been my most recent project. I began working with a health-care company in 2014, and over the past three years, I have been able to implement best practices and solutions to manage that organization's spend more effectively while simultaneously lowering their risk and managing through transformational changes within the customer and the industry.

If you were to speak to a college class of supply chain majors, what advice would you give them?
Learn as much as you can about the other business disciplines. Supply chain is as much about what happens in the boardroom as it is about what happens in the warehouse. Business acumen is a critical skill to have in order to be successful in today's world. Understanding what drives the decisions that CEOs are making gives you insight into what decisions you should be making to align with those decisions.

What advice would you give to companies looking to attract young supply chain professionals?
Millennials are looking to be able to drive a solution and control their own piece of the pie. Rotational programs where young professionals can learn different aspects of a company's supply chain are great tools to give millennials the background they need in order to take ownership of a piece of your supply chain. ... Top-performing young professionals will ask for larger and larger roles and responsibilities, and if you allow them to grow into those roles, you will be rewarded with an employee who is willing to do anything to improve your supply chain and help drive the bottom line.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I hope to be working with global companies to navigate through new regulations and technologies, developing solutions to help manage change and risk within their supply chains. In addition, I'd like to use my supply chain skills to help local charities optimize their logistics arms so they can be more effective in their communities.

Diego De la Garza

As an associate director at Source One Management Services, De la Garza manages the provider's Chicago operations and leads its Nearshoring Advisory Practice. His experience includes direct materials, logistics, industrial supplies, information technology, professional services, and facilities in manufacturing, technology, pharmaceuticals, and financial services. The bilingual De la Garza graduated from Universidad La Salle, A.C., in Mexico and earned an MBA from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What attracted you to supply chain management as a profession?
Early on, I sought a holistic education that wouldn't limit my focus to a single area. I pursued a dual degree in international business and commerce first, and then went for a dual master's degree in finance and management. During the course of my studies, I learned how the supply chain management function offered a well-defined value proposition within a business and across multiple levels of the organization. That kind of broad-reaching influence was really interesting to me.

What surprised you about the supply chain field when you entered the workforce?
The endless opportunity to generate tangible results and truly impact operations was incredible. Additionally, the environment constantly challenged me (and still does) to be creative. I found that supply chain presented the right conditions for me to thrive, even more than what I had initially expected. In particular, I enjoy how rapidly the supply chain is transforming—from the emergence of new technologies to the development of new best practices. The tremendous strategic relevance that supply chain, procurement, and sourcing practices have acquired continues to surprise me.

Are there any projects or assignments you've worked on that you're particularly proud of?
I'm especially proud of the development of Source One's Nearshoring and Global Sourcing practice. It began a few years back as a rather simple exercise for a client who needed to identify a competitive manufacturer of hand tools in Mexico. Through the project, however, we ended up establishing a new business relationship that lowered material and labor costs substantially and improved quality significantly. Today, I lead a practice that allows us to assist companies in transitioning and relocating their manufacturing operations to new locations worldwide. Our efforts help our clients expand to new markets and establish operations that are more efficient, competitive, and cost effective, while providing opportunities for new markets to develop, especially in my native Mexico.

If you were to speak to a college class of supply chain majors, what advice would you give them?
To realize the value their profession has, and that there is potential everywhere and endless opportunities to generate an impact. What we do with our craft, from within the organization, can go beyond efficient supply chains and streamlined processes. It can create opportunities for new businesses, increase diversity, and build bridges and strong relationships. I've negotiated millions of dollars of cost savings in my career, but the real reward has been in creating pockets of collaboration where they didn't exist before—and those produce more sustainable long-term benefits for the business. I'd also say that networking is crucial to collaboration and success, so they should surround themselves with people whose mission is to add value and with true mentors who seek to raise the bar without compromising value.

What advice would you give to companies looking to attract young supply chain professionals?
To create an environment that fosters creativity and that challenges people to use their skillset while presenting them with the opportunity to learn. ... I try to promote a culture of entrepreneurship, where people can self-start initiatives, collaborate, and take ownership of their work. As a result, we have a very talented pool of people who constantly feel accomplished and continue to thrive; they are key to our growth as a company that embraces challenge as part of its development. This model has clearly worked for us, and I would recommend any company to be creative in presenting young talent with a platform that promotes these values.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
My goal is to continue to help my practice grow exponentially, and to become a driver for innovation within supply chain, procurement, and strategic sourcing. I envision a much more robust operation for our global practice that continues to bring new ideas and best practices to new and remote locations. The value proposition for supply chain is going to continue to evolve as technology and the worldwide business landscape shift—so we must necessarily evolve with it.

Susan Lacefield is Senior Editor of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.

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