Managing a team of more than 60,000 supply chain employees for the Illinois-based, global food and beverage conglomerate Mondelēz International might seem like an intimidating job.
For Daniel Myers, however, the position is simply the culmination of a career in which he has led business units at Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) for 33 years and worked in 49 countries... so far. His accomplishments include integrating Gillette's global supply chain after it was acquired by P&G in 2005 and helping to create an efficient snack-focused supply chain at Mondelēz when Kraft Foods Inc. spun off its North American grocery operations in 2012.
As executive vice president for integrated supply chain, Myers has earned a reputation for developing the next generation of supply chain professionals and managers. Myers received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee and serves on the board of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the university's School of Business.
Here Myers answers seven questions about his life experiences and lessons learned from four decades of leadership in the global supply chain.
Q: What's your proudest professional achievement, and why?
A: I've had the blessing and privilege to do so much in my career, but the greatest thing is to get a group of people to do the extraordinary together and achieve what they did not think was possible. We are currently reinventing the entire supply chain for our company, for every region and every category. We have committed to save $3 billion in gross savings over two years—$1.5 billion net—taken out of COGS (the cost of goods sold).
Q: You've worked for decades at Procter & Gamble, Kraft, and now Mondelēz International. What first drew you to the field of logistics?
A: I started in engineering, then moved to manufacturing, customer service, and procurement, so I've been exposed to different functions in the value chain. That continuous flow of getting products into consumers' hands is what makes a business succeed or fail. I have worked in 49 countries around the world now; it's exciting.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes you've seen during your career?
A: I have seen us move in the industry from a siloed look to sharing information. We call my division the "integrated supply chain" because breaking down divisions is the secret to business success. We've got to be consumer-driven and optimize the total value chain to succeed, moving from silos to a focus on common metrics. The information age allows you to do that.
Q: What hasn't changed?
A: The focus on having leaders of integrity who can build trust and "followership." You can sense when you have a great leader because people want to be there. That's true for all generations; millennials want to work for something greater than money; they want to work for something they're proud of.
Q: What are some of the truisms that should be forgotten? In other words, what rules do companies need to break?
A: Each of us has the tendency to look at ourselves in the mirror, but when you look through the window first, at whoever is best in the world, then the picture of your reflection looks different.
We looked at who is best in safety, and that was DuPont. They're not in the food business, but they had the best standard, so we aimed for that. And we would not have dropped our injury rate by threefold if we had just continued to improve by our own measure. Maybe that comparison will make you uncomfortable, but it creates a level of dissatisfaction, and your rate of improvement is directly proportional to your level of dissatisfaction.
Q: You are known for nurturing and developing supply chain leadership. What advice would you give someone just starting a career in supply chain management?
A: No one's going to remember what you do in your own career. What people remember is what you're done to nurture their growth and development. Learning agility—the ability to learn and grow over your lifetime—is really what sets apart people who make a difference. As you learn, you develop mastery, then you can pass that knowledge on to others.
Q: And what attributes do you look for when recruiting someone to your team?
A: Integrity. Personal drive to be the best. Learning agility. Capacity. Raw talent. Intelligence. Capability.