Spring 2011 Supply Chain Executive Forum Focuses on Excelling in the Basics

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Senior supply chain executives, once again, convened on the Georgia Tech campus this spring to meet and discuss ways to enhance and streamline their supply chain processes and activities during the spring Supply Chain Executive Forum (SCEF). 

“Back to Basics” was the overall theme of the spring 2011 meeting held on April 19 – 20, 2011. The two-day biannual Forum began with a joint meeting between the SCEF and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) Atlanta Roundtable.   Jaymie Forrest, managing director of the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute (GTSCL), joined Rob Doyle, president of the Atlanta CSCMP, in giving the Forum's opening remarks.  The remainder of the day was divided between panel sessions and a keynote presentation. 

The two panel sessions focused on “Transportation Basics” and “Improving Warehouse Productivity Without Investment,” respectively.

Alan Erera, associate professor and co-director of the GTSCL Center for Global Transportation, moderated the first panel on getting back to basics in freight transportation.  Panel participants included:  Ed Medlock, SVP Distribution, Logistics and Program Management, Quality Chain Co-op, Inc., Wendy’s; Brad Sawallich, general manager, National Account Center, CH Robinson, and Bryan Ward, director of Transportation, The Home Depot.    The panel delved into the nature of increasing demands on transportation groups and the actions that can be taken to address them.  The list of basics for transportation has grown dramatically since deregulation in 1977-81.  Technology to plan, manage, purchase and provide visibility for transportation went from nonexistent to required.  Transportation groups must now work with huge databases of different transportation requirements, modes, costs, services and capabilities including transportation to and from multiple countries.  Customers are requiring deliveries of smaller quantities with a wide range of service offerings and often on a tight time schedule. 

John Bartholdi, Manhattan Associates Chair of Supply Chain Management and GTSCL director of research, moderated the second panel on improving warehouse productivity without investment.  Panel participants included:  Doug Bands, industrial engineering project manager, Walgreens; Jim Bowes, CEO, Peach State Integrated Technologies; and Brad Grimsley, vice president, Mast Global Logistics, a Division of Limited Brands.  Turmoil in the financial world has made companies reluctant to invest. Yet customer demands continue to escalate: for better service, smaller shipments, and more frequent shipments.  The panel had a lively discussion on the challenges of improving operations in this environment, whether through more careful investment or by avoiding investment. 

Steve Buffington, vice president of Supply Chain Development for The Coca-Cola Company, presented the Forum’s first keynote address speaking on “Developing Supply Chain Talent.”  Sometimes resistance to change becomes a barrier to success.  Therefore, leadership is both inspirational as well as operational. Since most people tend to want consistency, a good leader should be able to motivate employees to accept and buy into the change that is needed.  Leaders need to be “masters of change.”  Great leaders also must be “and” instead of “or” oriented as in being able to control cost AND have superior quality.   Success depends as much on people as it does on brand distribution.

On the second day, the Forum began with a keynote presentation by Jose Hidalgo, LATAM head of procurement at Nestle’s, speaking on “Principles of Supplier Management at Nestle.”  Hidalgo impressed upon the group the importance of excelling in the basics and doing it well the first time.  He reiterated Buffinton’s call to become an “and” company allowing no room for the “or.”

The meeting proceeded with a panel session on “Inventory Basics.”  Over the last 30 years there have been two “new” inventory basics:  (1) The globalization of supply has resulted in a requirement for much better management of inventory in transit and inventory to protect against variability in shipment times from suppliers. (2) The “leaning” of supply to retailers requires more frequent and predictable deliveries, which in turn requires more management of the integration between transportation and inventory.  The panel compared and contrasted the “old” basics – demanding forecasting, inventory positioning, and replenishment – and the “new” basics.  Don Ratliff, UPS and Regent’s professor and GTSCL executive director, moderated the panel.  Panel participants included:  Wally Buran, former Global Supply Chain Practice lead, KPMG and Edenfield Executive in Residence; Jose Hidalgo; Robert Martichenko, CEO of Lean Cor LLC; and Wooyong Shin, principal consultant of the SCM Consulting Gropy, Samsung SDS Co, Ltd.

Following the panel session, Robert Martichenko presented a session on “Lean Thinking and Inventory Basics” where he explored the fundamentals of inventory management and Lean thinking.  As the economy appears to be rebounding back, many organizations are attempting to understand what they can do differently in order to be smarter and stronger in the future.  For many, the answer is to simply get back to basics and focus on only those things that are critical to the customer experience.  This is certainly true relative to inventory management process, and this is where Lean thinking and getting back to basics with inventory strategies have a close relationship.

Wooyong Shin then spoke on “Principles of Supply Chain Management at Samsung” where he discussed the SCM principles and strategies of Samsung focusing from demand back through manufacturing.

Rounding out the afternoon, Wally Buran presented the closing session on “Supply Chain Deployment.”  While most companies have developed supply chain strategies with varying degrees of effectiveness and success, many struggle to deploy them effectively to drive measureable results and clear value.  Research shows there are several common failure points that must be overcome, but equally important, four major success factors must also be leveraged: (1) Goals and visions must be translated into targeted action plans. (2) Disparate actions and projects must be integrated across the supply chain into defined values streams. (3) Measurable “path to value” must be clearly defined and effectively shared. (4) Supply chain value streams must align and integrate with marketing and business plans.  Buran’s presentation addressed the major failure points, how to avoid them and what are the proven keys to success of effectively deploy supply chain strategies.  Change is inevitable, growth is optional, he said.

The mission of the Georgia Tech Supply Chain Executive Forum is to provide resources and facilitation for its members and their companies as they explore opportunities to enhance the success of their supply chains. This is accomplished through an interactive portfolio of resources that create value and respond to the needs of individuals who have executive-level responsibility for supply chain activity.

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  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Barbara Christopher
  • Created:05/03/2011
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016