I interviewed Andrea Melis who discussed What Makes You a Supply Chain Manager?
It’s good to speak with you today, Andrea. I realize you’re in Vietnam, and you have a lot of experience in Asia. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on what makes anybody a supply chain manager. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Absolutely. Thank you very much, first of all, Dustin, for this invitation that gives me the chance to speak with you and express my knowledge to all the people following your blog. Yes, that’s true; I’m in Vietnam and I spent 15 years in Asia. I started in China 15 years ago as purchasing manager. My background is mostly manufacturing business and starting as purchasing manager and then managing different warehouses and logistics departments. This brought me to full knowledge of the supply chain, generally speaking.
Starting with your first question, supply chain is the management of all the processes from the very first step, so, the raw materials—up to the finished goods. This may vary a lot from different kinds of businesses. Of course, you might have manufacturing, you might have service companies in terms of transportation. I feel I’m very lucky because I had the chance always to work in the manufacturing business, which is probably the most complete version of the supply chain.
What makes someone a supply chain manager?
A supply chain manager is a connecting position. It’s a service office, in my opinion, and it has to provide the best solution to the different departments. The very, very important thing for a purchasing and supply chain director or manager or specialist is to know exactly what each department does and the way they do it. The knowledge has to become a complete, unique body made of different parts that have to work at the best of their ability in order to provide the most effective service for themselves as a department, as well as for the company. Deep knowledge of every single department that services the supply chain itself.
How do you become a supply chain manager?
With experience, in my opinion. I don’t think you can really decide one day to become a supply chain manager; I think it’s a process, although there are many schools and many universities that provide a degree in such a discipline, if you’d like. On the other hand, the experience, as I said before, it’s absolutely important; it’s the best thing. Every single factory or manufacturing company or productive system has a specific way of work; therefore, it’s absolutely important, first of all, in my opinion, not to remain always in the sales field, because you may apply systems that you have learned in one field and maybe apply them to a different industry. This is the first thing.
Secondly, you must spend one, two, three years in purchasing, logistics, which are the two main aspects for supply chain manager knowledge. Of course, you must have a bit of financial background because the implication of the supply chain in a cash flow view are very, very important and more effective as a supply chain, they’re more effective with the ability of the company to improve cost savings.
Do you have any recommendations or experiences you’d like to share?
As I said, I’ve been very lucky because I had the chance to work in difference industries. I’ve been working in the furniture business, which is the one I’m working now, and I’ve been working in China. I’ve been working in the manufacturing electronic business. I’ve been working in the service companies. My recommendation is: Do experience, challenge, accept challenges, and challenge your colleagues to understand and push them to make you understand what they do and how they think. Find the best way to marry the two departments and make sure they can develop the best attitude, the best job for themselves and for the company. This is the final target; this is the ultimate result that a supply change wants.
Thanks for sharing your views today on what makes you a supply chain manager.
Dustin, I think you very much. I’ll be very, very glad to talk to you again in the future. I’ll talk to you soon.
About Andrea Melis
Chief Operating Officer