Transforming My Supply Chain View

It’s been about a decade now since I graduated from college with my Industrial Engineering degree. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career, but I was sure of one thing: I did not want to work in logistics and supply chain. I had taken a class in it, and all I remember is doing boring computer network models. I was convinced I could do so much more with my degree.

As fate would have it, my first job was in the logistics division of Caterpillar. While I wasn’t thrilled to be in logistics, I was excited to work for Cat and begin building my career. I spent the next four years in a blur of roles… running a rearrangement and launching a new warehouse management software… supervising docks and the picking of parts orders…. even helping to solution and cost 3PL solutions. Instead of opting for an MBA, I got my masters in supply chain… but I still wasn’t convinced it was the career for me.

It wasn’t until I returned to work for Cat that it finally clicked. I was in a meeting when someone said, “I just love talking to you about logistics and supply chain because you’re so passionate about it.” I think I must’ve stared at him dumbfounded. After all, it was just about trucks and dusty warehouses full of products. I was integrating distribution networks from a recent merger, using data analytics to transform our dealer network, and collaborating with marketing and operations to provide new services to our customers. But that is supply chain.

Since then I’ve been fortunate to work and network with the most brilliant, hard-working, and passionate supply chain professionals. With a great group of people and ever-evolving technologies and challenges, it’s truly an exciting and terrific career to be in. While it took me a while to change my own views, I can now proudly say “I work in the supply chain.”

Susie Conley
Caterpillar

Alex Pace – A Next Generation Leader

My name is Alex Pace, a young professional working in the Supply Chain. My story is more of a unique one, and one that has only just begun. I am the Logistics Coordinator at The Green Design Center (GDC), in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I have worked in the Supply Chain industry for 3 years; the best 3 years of my professional life. I started at GDC as a materials handler/product picker. Little by little, I began to expand my area of responsibility. Starting with packing boxes and sweeping floors, I now control a 50,000 square foot Distribution Center.

The Supply Chain industry is not typically viewed as a “sexy” industry, or one that young people aspire to join. Though I can’t tell you why others in my generation aren’t looking to the Supply Chain for a career, I can however tell you why they should be. Working in the Supply Chain can be a very rewarding career choice. Not only are there endless opportunities for improvement and upward mobility, this industry is one that you’re allowed to make your own. What I mean is that every professional in the industry can put their own personal spin on the work that they are doing. Every challenge that we are faced with can be solved in a number of ways, and it’s up to the individual to figure out what solution is best for them, and the company they represent. It is this flexibility and opportunity to be creative that I find so attractive.

One of the other reasons that I am proud to be in the Supply Chain industry is that I get the privilege to help other people, make their lives a bit easier, and have fun doing it. Back in April of 2015, I was given the extraordinary opportunity to attend the National Logistics and Distribution Conference (NLDC), held in Atlanta, GA. This had been my first business trip, and definitely my first time being in the presence of “The Greats” of the Supply Chain industry. If you’ve ever been told about NLDC, you know of its exclusivity and prestige, and it was that exact reason I was very nervous about attending. I mean, I am just starting out…. and all of these other attendees are the best of the best in the industry. As a young professional in his early 20’s, I thought they would all look down on me, or not take me seriously. But to my very pleasant surprise, my experience was the opposite. I found that every single executive I met was so willing to share their knowledge with me, just to try to help me get started in the industry. That experience alone is what committed me to the Supply Chain industry. Seemingly the nicest people in the world work in the Supply Chain. All they want to do is help, whether you’re the client or new to the industry, the level of care is second to none. Getting to know all of those people made me realize that this is the place for me, and that I want to be like them. Supply Chain is the industry that I want to be in. If everyone is so willing to help now, when I barely know them, I can’t even imagine just how rewarding my career will be when I get the chance to help other people.

I am proud to work in the Supply Chain, and I am committed to excellence through my work. I am truly honored to be associated with a group of people that spend their days helping others. The Supply Chain industry is what I have committed myself to, and I encourage others in my generation to find their career in the Supply Chain.

Alex Pace
The Green Design Center