I interviewed Graham Newland who discussed Managing and Leading Supply Chain Teams.







Could you first provide a brief a background of yourself?


Yes, thank you Dustin.I've been working in the supply chain now for some 35 years globally.I've worked in a range of industries, specifically around retail, e-commerce, wholesale and many manufacturing companies worldwide for many of the leaders.Today, I'm actually the Chief Customer Officer for a Swedish company who focus very much on providing supply chain improvements and supply chain technology globally, but I also run a consulting practice that looks at how to make supply chain improvements and how to make your supply chain more effective.As over the years,I’ve run supply chains as a chief operating officer and a supply chain director for a number of leading retailers and wholesalers.


Can you talk about what is involved in managing and leading supply chain teams?


In doing this, I think it's really, really important to actually have very good leadership, very clear vision of what you want to achieve, and to actually manage and to lead supply chain teams effectually now, you really have paint a great picture of what good looks like, which is normally focusing on your customers and what value means to them, what is important to them.Listening to that customer, and then being able to coach your team, who are often distributed over many locations, often over many geographies to be focused on that clear vision and that clear goal and what success looks like.And to work at that absolutely every day and every week in terms of making that effective by listening to the customer, taking feedback, measuring success through very clear, key performance indicators which are relevant to your customer, relevant to your strategy, and making sure that you’re always striving to get better and if there are any problems to understand the root causes and very quickly manage those and get better.And I always find if you've got the right talent and the right people and that right communication, if you get can vision and the measurement right, and measure in process as you go forward, you've got yourself a pretty good foundation to be successful.


How is it done effectively?


In terms of making this effective I think there are many aspects.One very key aspect is getting the right people onboard.And when I interview, I very much look at attitude because I think if you get the right attitude, you can always train and coach people around skills and what success looks like.So I like people with a range of skills.They care.They care about performance and customers.They're respectful, so they can be very diplomatic, but at the same time they're always looking to do better, to get things right the first time, they challenge the status quo and get their sleeves rolled up as part of a team, to achieve the success as we go forward.And that team means they work with their colleagues, they work with customers, they work with suppliers, with common objectives, common language and always looking at what the vision and what those KPIs that we've signed up to, which are very customer focused are doing.


They have great judgement, and great decision making, and I often use techniques like using the judgement index to make sure I'm getting the right kind of people who are able to make decisions under pressure and also looking at the across the whole supply, rather than their particular area.


To summarize, you're looking at great talent, great communications, people who collaborate really well, build bridges, but are also very analytical.That way they can look at demand, they can look at their projected performance, they're always forward looking, 30, 60, 90 days ahead for example.And I think when you've got that, providing you've got that framework of coaching and mentoring from the leadership with clear vision, and clear feedback, clear measurement which is looked at and acted upon, frequently, so at least weekly.Then I think you build momentum, and you build a high performing team, even if they are distributed over many locations.So all of those are the key ingredients for me, Dustin.


Can you share any success stories or examples of success?


bbb: I've been involved in a number of areas, so for example, just a short while back, acting as chief operating officer and supply chain director at The Liberty Group, that's an internationally famous retailer, wholesaler of high quality products and also a manufacturer.By working together with our partners overseas, by working together with people in different countries in our operation...we had people in Brazil, America, Japan, China, Italy for example.By taking that approach we more than double our gross margin.We doubled our customer service for our major customers.Customers, we improved our on time, we cut our lead times by over 50%, and with our suppliers, we took away the standard contracts and introduced our KPIs and SLAs, and performance and quality went up because they understood what was important to our customers, what was important to us.


And so we were sharing information and collaborating very well, and that transformation took place in very, very short period of time.And that was a very powerful example of what you can do by bringing together a range of talent in different countries, clear vision, and collaborating well together and always looking challenging that status quo and working with people to identify how can we do it better.An area of continuous improvement, so that I think is a very good example.


In addition, not to long ago, I was actually working for a very major conglomerate in Europe.I'm not sure I can say their name for you at this particular moment, but working across 73 distribution centers, 19 countries and over 12 lines of business, just by mapping out what was good, what was the key objectives, working back from the customer who just wanted one voice, one delivery, and delivery on certain timescales for all products within the group.

We were able to move back working with a very strong team, as we implemented cells and operations planning, to just focus on what that goal should be, and how we could achieve it.And once again, we managed to reduce lead times by over half.We improved the profitability significantly, and in addition, we pleased the customer, who didn't want 12 deliveries.They wanted one consolidated delivery behind their store, or their warehouse as appropriate.And I think that listening to the customer and the whole team working closely together, saying, "Well, how do we do this?And how can we make it easier to do and to get right time?” harnessing all of that talent and having that attitude to make it want to happen.That was another significant success.



About Graham Newland





Graham Newland


Business leader; supply chain, retail and commerce


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