For our 2015 Rainmakers, success isn't just about fame and fortune. It's also about making a contribution to the logistics field and advancing the profession.
Some measure success by salaries and titles. Others use a different yardstick altogether. Take the 10 professionals selected as our 2015 Rainmakers, for example. When asked about their proudest professional accomplishments, one spoke of the rewards of seeing her students get excited about the fields of logistics and supply chain management. Another cited his supply chain organization's efforts to make the world a better place.
So who are these Rainmakers and how were they chosen? As in the past, DC Velocity selected the 2015 Rainmakers in concert with members of the magazine's Editorial Advisory Board from candidates nominated by readers, board members, and previous Rainmakers and DCV Thought Leaders. This year's selections represent different facets of the business—from practitioners to consultants to educators to service providers. But as the profiles on the following pages show, they're united by a common goal of advancing the logistics and supply chain management profession.
If you'd like to nominate someone for our 2016 Rainmakers report, please send your suggestions to DC Velocity's chief editor, David Maloney, at email@example.com.
Sarah (Giffin) Mally
Chris Caplice is a numbers guy. Throughout his career, he has applied a mathematical approach to analyzing and solving transportation and supply chain problems. His technical bent gets full play in his current positions as executive director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) and as chief scientist for the consulting firm Chainalytics. He's also the founder of the MIT FreightLab, which researches the way freight transportation is designed, procured, and managed.
Caplice holds a Ph.D. from MIT in transportation and logistics systems, a Master of Science in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He also served five years in the Army Corps of Engineers, achieving the rank of captain.
Q: Two of your degrees are in civil engineering. How did that background lead you to the field of supply chain management, and does it influence your work today?
A: Not only was I educated as a civil engineer, but I also earned my Professional Engineer license in the Army Corps of Engineers. My path went from understanding how to build bridges and roads to being interested in how that infrastructure system interacts with the users. This naturally led to freight transportation, logistics, and eventually, supply chain management.
Engineering is the perfect discipline for supply chain professionals for two reasons. First, it helps you understand how to make trade-offs between cost and service—a core concept that underlies all supply chain management decisions. Second, it requires the user to have a solid understanding of the theory along with the ability to ground [that theory] in reality. The analysis and discipline that I learned in my civil engineer days at VMI and UT Austin shape the way I approach and solve supply chain problems today.
Q: Some see supply chain management (SCM) as a business management discipline, while others place it in the realm of engineering. Do you see those approaches as competitive or complementary?
A: SCM is such a new discipline that the first generation of supply chain management experts is still working! The divisions between the approaches to SCM reflect these experts' different origins. Those with engineering roots tend to take a mathematical approach and look for the hard trade-offs between options. Those with a more managerial or business background tend to look at the relationships and how companies interact. These are both valid approaches to the same core problems. In fact, you are starting to see more overlap between the two camps as the discipline matures. So, I think they are complementary rather than competitive.
Q: How does your research translate into information that transportation and logistics managers can apply in the real world?
A: I'm proud of a couple of things that I have been a part of over the last 20 years, mainly because they have such direct applicability to practitioners. The first is combinatorial auctions for better transportation procurement, which came out of my Ph.D. dissertation. This was controversial in the mid-1990s, but today it is a standard feature in practically all transportation management systems. The second is the Freight Market Intelligence Consortium (FMIC) that I am part of at Chainalytics. The FMIC models capture not only the transportation rates across North America, but also the impact that different business practices and policies have on carriers and their rates. Both of these models were designed as communication tools to improve the relationship between shippers and carriers. In both cases, the underlying mathematical model supports the practical decision-making.
Q: What do you think will be the most important trend in supply chain education in the next decade, and why?
A: I think we are learning how to better use the complete portfolio of education options. Face-to-face discussions and lectures are great when everyone can gather at a common location. However, in many cases, students learn certain concepts better at their own pace and speed. In the fall of 2014, CTL launched CTL.SC1x Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals, its first online supply chain course—and over 30,000 students from 184 countries registered! We ended up awarding 2,200 certificates of completion—equivalent to 28 years of residence teaching at MIT in my typical course. So, I believe that online education will play a big role in education. But the biggest trend will be the customization and blending of these different ways of teaching (and learning) for individual students.
James L. Harlan II
Jim Harlan understands supply chain management from the ground up. Harlan, who is Eastman Chemical Co.'s vice president, Global Supply Chain, began his career as a chemical engineer, earned an M.B.A. degree, and since 1978 has served the company in a variety of technical and management positions within engineering, manufacturing, and maintenance, spanning nine countries and four continents. He says his decades of experience building and providing operations support services for many of Eastman's global assets as well as leading across diverse technologies, cultures, and organizations made the transition to supply chain "very natural."
Today, Harlan has global responsibility for supply planning, inventory management, customer service, and logistics for all of Eastman's business segments.
Q: Eastman has manufacturing operations in 15 countries and customers in over 100 countries. How do you keep an eye on such a far-flung supply chain?
A: We define our organizational strategy as regional execution of center-led global strategies. We have global supply chain "business leads" aligned with each business segment. Each supply chain business lead is responsible for translating business requirements to the supply chain organization and is accountable to the business leaders to drive supply chain results. We also have regional supply chain leaders to ensure regional execution is efficient and effective.
Q: Eastman's Integrated Global Supply Chain (IGSC) structure encompasses procurement, logistics, and supply chain execution. How are those functions integrated, and what's the benefit of that approach?
A: While I have responsibility for logistics and supply chain execution, I have a counterpart vice president responsible for global procurement. Together, we align our organizations and essentially operate as one corporate division. ... The material flow and order fulfillment processes cross all IGSC functions. In order to optimize the overall flow of information and materials, integration of these functions is critical.
We operate with one set of performance commitments and improvement initiatives for the integrated organization. ... Common objectives, goals, initiatives, and measures enable optimization of the corporation rather than suboptimization of a function, region, or business. ... The ultimate goal is to be a reliable supplier to our customers and create value for Eastman. The integrated approach to supply chain management enables us to accomplish this mission.
Q: What is the purpose of Eastman's IGSC "Center of Excellence"?
A: The Center of Excellence (CoE) is responsible for research and development that drives innovation throughout the supply chain. [CoE's dedicated resources] drive process improvement, ensure compliance of our processes, and provide process support to our execution groups. In addition, Eastman has outlined a growth strategy that includes expanding our portfolio through acquisitions. ... Center of Excellence resources lead and execute the integration process.
Our improvement efforts are almost always enabled by technology. CoE ensures that [our Information Technology organization] is aligned with the Integrated Global Supply Chain in delivering the technology solutions that are needed to meet our objectives. Examples of improvement initiatives led and executed by our CoE group include the continued development and maturation of our corporate S&OP (sales and operations planning) process; development of optimization models; development and implementation of an enhanced order management process, including the increased utilization of electronic capabilities for order entry and order fulfillment; implementation of an integrated supply planning system; and automation of transportation planning.
Q: You serve on the advisory board of the University of Tennessee's Global Supply Chain Institute. Why do you take the time out of a very busy schedule to participate?
A: First of all, I believe you must have an "external" view to maintain a competitive position. We cannot be internally focused and sustain a competitive supply chain. To keep our finger on the pulse of supply chain advancements and best practices, we partner with selected academic and consulting partners. Organizations like UT's Global Supply Chain Institute, The Conference Board, and Gartner are key partners in helping frame and benchmark our approaches to procurement and supply chain management.
[As for the] Global Supply Chain Institute ... not only does it provide an external view of supply chain best practices, but it is also training supply chain professionals of the future. Through our UT partnership, we are improving our supply chain overall as well as leveraging opportunities to recruit well-trained and well-prepared professionals. Serving on the advisory board ensures that Eastman is connected to the future of supply chain management.
Mary Holcomb, associate professor of logistics at the University of Tennessee, has an intense interest in figuring out, "Why did that happen?" This question has been a key driver of her professional life, first as a research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy, and then as a professor of logistics and supply chain management.
Holcomb is particularly well known for her work on the annual "Trends and Issues in Logistics and Transportation" research study. That research study has spawned numerous articles and papers that have appeared in the Journal of Business Logistics, Transportation Journal, Supply Chain Management Review, and CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.
While research may be her vocation, Holcomb's passion is teaching. She counts the numerous teaching awards she has received as her proudest professional achievements. "The ability to instill an interest and excitement about the field of logistics and supply chain management is something I feel blessed to be able to do," Holcomb says.
Q: How did you become interested in research in logistics management?
A: My introduction to the field was through my first career, which was working as a research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. As a part of the newly formed Energy Division, we focused on freight and passenger transportation policy and energy use.
When I took a leave of absence to finish my degree at the University of Tennessee (UT), I discovered that the college of business had a top-ranked transportation and logistics program. The fit was obvious based on my work at ORNL. But something else happened while I was at UT. I discovered that businesses were interested in leveraging both areas—transportation and logistics—to create customer value. After so many years of focusing on policy issues at the federal and state level, it was very exciting to work on answers to problems and issues that when implemented, made a huge impact on a company's performance. And I didn't have to wait years and years to see the effect.
Q: Could you discuss your involvement in the "Trends and Issues in Logistics and Transportation" study and how it has informed your research and teaching?
A: The annual study is a key part of my research and teaching effectiveness. Logistics is an applied discipline. What that means is research, in addition to being scientifically rigorous, must also be relevant to practice. The annual study enables me to keep a finger on the pulse of problems and issues in practice. The gap between theory and practice must constantly be examined with the goal of closing it. Scientific research should enable us to predict what will happen when certain conditions exist. When it doesn't (that's the practice side), we need to go back to theory to determine why. The annual study is the perfect platform to collect and analyze [data on] the outcomes from practice. If these outcomes are explained by existing theory, that's good. Often, however, the outcomes don't fit the existing theory, and that presents a great opportunity for future research. Without the annual study, I'm not sure how I would have developed such a direct and deep conduit between practice and theory.
Q: What challenges do universities face in developing the next generation of supply chain leaders? As a teacher, how do you ensure that you're adequately preparing students for a fast-changing industry?
A: This is a question about which I could write a book.
With each new generation, we have to adapt and adopt new ways of developing the next generation of supply chain leaders. The traditional method of lecturing, which primarily involved a one-way flow of information, is gone—thank goodness. Students are very technologically plugged in (if you'll pardon the pun). They want to be an active part of the learning process. Further, they want to test their mastery of skills through means other than the standard exam.
I find that experiential learning tools are a great way for students at all levels to accomplish this objective. For example, a large-scale supply chain simulation enables a student to better understand the complexity of global operations, the need for integration across supply chain partners, and how difficult it is to deal with uncertainty. Instead of listening to countless lectures on these topics, the students become active participants in putting theory into practice.
Sarah (Giffin) Mally
Sarah Mally has had a career's worth of experiences in a fairly short time. She is currently vice president, sourcing category manager at Comerica Bank in Auburn Hills, Mich. While her current role is managing procurement for the operations spend category at Comerica, her previous positions were heavily weighted toward logistics. These include stints at TNT, Ceva, and UTi Worldwide, where she gained valuable experience working in Lean/Six Sigma cultures that emphasized operational improvements. Prior to that, Mally received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in logistics management and marketing from Central Michigan University's Honors College. ? Mally believes in giving back to those organizations that have helped her grow in her own career. She was a founding member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) Young Professionals (YP) Committee, which serves those under 30 years of age. The aim of the YP committee is to offer support and encouragement to members as they navigate the early years of their supply chain careers. The group currently boasts over 300 members. She also served from 2008 to 2012 as the first YP representative on the CSCMP board of directors. Mally still serves as an adviser to the YP committee, though she has now graduated to "non-YP" status.
Q: How have your previous positions in logistics management prepared you for your current work at Comerica?
A: I am able to rely on my former experience with process improvement and my understanding of supply chain operations to apply logistics concepts in terms of procurement to obtain products and services at the best value that meet the needs and time constraints of the organization. When I was at UTi, I was in a sales role, selling logistics services. I had a good bit of contact then with procurement people, which prompted my interest in procurement. I think my background in logistics was attractive to Comerica, as I had operational experience that is now helpful in coordinating all aspects of the procurement process, including sourcing strategy, bids, due diligence, negotiations, and contracting.
Q: You've spent a lot of time volunteering in professional organizations such as CSCMP. Why is that important to you?
A: Going to conferences such as CSCMP provides me with both educational and networking experiences, and that is something I feel I continue to need. I have done a lot of networking with other professionals, whether as a mentor or being mentored. The educational aspects are also very important at any stage in a career, as I feel I need to be continually learning. It's also important to volunteer with those organizations—to give back to them from what I have learned.
Q: You were instrumental in establishing the Young Professionals Committee at CSCMP. How did that come about and why?
A: That started with the board's wanting to have more young professionals involved in the organization and at the time, there was no representative of that age group on the board. I was invited to join the board and was asked to investigate what CSCMP could do for our demographic. Several of us then got together and researched other organizations to see what they did for young professionals, but there was not a lot out there. So, we formed the first Young Professionals Committee, surveyed our peers, and subsequently established the mentorship program and the Emerging Leader Award. We also launched social media geared to that age group. We worked hard to make CSCMP relevant to young professionals and look forward to that continuing.
Q: Based on what you have learned, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in the supply chain management profession?
A: I have helped to coordinate the student experience at CSCMP. I tell them to remain engaged with a professional organization. Besides the educational aspects, it gives you a network of people to get to know. Being in the right place and knowing the right people to rely on can be very important to your career.
It may sound idealistic, but even after 30-some years in the profession, Deverl Maserang truly believes that supply chain management is not just about moving product but also about making the world a better place. Given this point of view, Maserang feels he has found the perfect professional fit as executive vice president of the global supply chain organization at Starbucks, a company known for its focus on creating opportunities for its people and the communities in which it operates.
Maserang's own interest in logistics management was sparked by his time in the Air Force ROTC in college, where he studied industrial engineering. After graduating, Maserang joined UPS and worked there during the transformative days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when logistics management began to evolve into supply chain management. At that time, UPS was working with many large companies such as Dell, JC Penney, and Pier One on large collaborative supply chain projects. Maserang also spent 10 years working at Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands L.L.C., and has held supply chain management positions at Pepsi Bottling Group and Freedom Pay, an information technology firm.
Throughout his career, Maserang has made an effort to give back to the profession. He has been actively involved in industry associations like the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and educational institutions such as MIT's Center for Transportation & Logistics.
Q: After 30 years in the profession, what keeps you excited about supply chain management?
A: I may be too biased, but I believe that all great companies have to have great supply chains and that supply chain is the enabler of growth and managing complexity and volatility. That's really what I fundamentally believe, and Starbucks is a great example of that.
Q: What professional achievement are you most proud of, and why?
A: Being selected to lead Starbucks' global supply chain. Everything that led me to this point and everything I did prior to coming to Starbucks positioned me to be able to come in and do something bigger than myself. I knew the day I took this job that it was an opportunity to have a much bigger impact than just supply chain. I knew it was about being part of a company that has a social conscience and wants to redefine what it means to be a for-profit company and about using Starbucks' global scale for good. Without question, we have made substantive moves over the last two years. When it comes to Starbucks' journey, our best days are ahead of us, and the supply chain is the engine that is going to drive that growth. It really makes you proud.
Q: How does Starbucks' social consciousness affect how the supply chain organization operates?
A: There's a question we ask ourselves here at Starbucks supply chain: "Can supply chain solve social problems?" We firmly believe that the answer is yes, and here's why. A growing segment of our population is "opportunity youth," young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from work, have never been employed, or are severely underemployed. We believe that together with our 17,000 or so suppliers, we can bridge the gap between those underemployed or unemployed youth and employment opportunities.
We have a group called LeadersUp that we helped to start as a 501(c)(3) three years ago. I'm deeply engaged with that group both as a member of the board of directors and also from a Starbucks perspective as we work with that firm. When it comes to creating employment opportunities, there has not been much focus on the demand side, on working with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and trying to link the supply of available talent to demand. We said, "Wouldn't it be novel if we started with a demand-driven perspective? Let's create the jobs on the side of businesses and be the intermediary that connects those companies' demand to the available work-force supply of all the NGOs."
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the supply chain management profession?
Art Mesher was a 22-year-old college student working as a lumper—unloading trucks at the loading dock—when he read a book by pioneering supply chain author John Coyle. The book suggested that logistics would be a good job for someone without a college degree, and Mesher jumped into the industry with both feet.
That turned out to be a smart decision, as Mesher went on to build a stellar career that included stints as an all-star analyst and turnaround specialist before retiring in 2013 as CEO of Descartes Systems Group Inc., where he is credited with helping found SaaS (software as a service) networks and cloud computing. Before joining Descartes in 1998, he worked as an analyst, launching Gartner Group's Integrated Logistics Strategies Services group. Prior to that, he was president of Advanced Logistics Research, a firm that helped companies develop supply chain strategies, and founder of Vocam Systems, a logistics network software company. Today, Mesher invests and consults with startup companies, including Nulogy, Versapay, and Logistical Labs.
"I got started in this business when nobody thought it was important," Mesher recalls. "But I dropped out of school and started building computer systems to do EDI [electronic data interchange] and I've had a great career. It's been an amazing ride."
Q: You're known for launching startups and turning companies around. How do you come up with new ideas and fresh approaches?
A: I'm very formalized in how I work; I have an analytic approach called the Clean SL8 Framework. What if you could take everything you know and everything you've done and wipe it clean and start all over? What would you do differently and what would you change?
Q: But it must be hard to convince your consulting clients to let go of their own ideas?
A: Yes, it's like the U2 song, "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of." Sometimes, you have to push them to change, but pressure makes diamonds, and that's why they call me "High-pressure Mesher." Great CEOs embrace change. You can't manage in denial.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing supply chain professionals today?
A: The pace of change. It's a dinosaur industry that's about to get flipped on its head. This industry is full of 50-and 60-year-olds, and they're all about to get replaced by a generation of people who take "selfies" of themselves. The way they use data and apply it to their work is completely different.
Q: What advice would you give a young professional who's just starting out in the business?
A: Do the right things, and the right things happen. If you ask people who know me, they'd say I just cast a net of goodwill and see what gets caught in it. I'm the only so-called "vendor" to win the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Lifetime Achievement Award. At the podium, other people were saying, "No, I'm a shipper, I'm a carrier, I'm a consultant." Well, how about we all treat each other right and see what happens? Logistics is a network, and if networks aren't equitable, sooner or later something breaks.
Q: What skills or characteristics do you look for when you go to add someone to your team?
A: Number one: Whether they're able to bring out the best in other people. You can tell me what you did all day long, but tell me how you made that [idiot] brilliant. Number two: Whether people follow them to a new company when they leave, because no one works for a d--- twice. Number three: Whether you're the type of person that attracts new talent. And the least important part is metrics; you can have the best metrics in the world but it doesn't mean anything if people aren't going to work for you because you're a d---.
At 28, Chris Ricciardi is another member of the post-deregulation generation with specific ideas about what the logistics field should look like and how information technology can turn those ideas into reality. As co-founder and chief product officer of Chicago-based Logistical Labs, Ricciardi's objective is to take mountains of data companies accumulate every day, synthesize the data into a format that's easy to understand and analyze, and allow customers to execute based on the data presentation. Ricciardi said Logistical Labs differs from companies supplying business intelligence (BI) because his platforms deliver actionable solutions, not just insights. "What's the benefit of getting insights if you can't do anything with it?" he asked.
Q: You have said that you want to position Logistical Labs as the "Priceline of freight." Can you elaborate?
A: We live in a connected world where consumers have access to more options than ever before in all spaces, which is overwhelming. Technology that ropes all those options into a single easy-to-use platform makes people's lives easier, which is our goal. Logistical Labs wants to do what Priceline, GrubHub, Amazon, and Match.com have done, but for the logistics industry.
Q: What do you see as the biggest change coming down the pike in IT over the next one to two years?
A: I see more small companies building technology that is disruptive to the large legacy players. In the shipping world, we're seeing companies start to "unbundle" FedEx and UPS. Rather than trying to do everything, these smaller companies are doing one thing really well—like managing pickups or tracking—and they're growing fast.
Q: The supply chain field is experiencing a shortage of skilled IT people to service and maintain advanced technology. The problem is becoming more acute because the technology changes so rapidly. What steps would you take to address this problem?
A: If you're building innovative technology that solves big problems, the IT resources will flock to it. If you're focused on putting Band-Aids on old technology—as the supply chain industry has done for years—I don't blame [people] for not wanting to come over. For example, look at Uber. It brought exciting technology to a non-tech-savvy taxi industry and has gotten a ton of software engineers and IT people interested in working for it. My advice is to focus on innovation, rather than maintenance of the status quo.
Q: How did you get started in the field, and what interested you about it?
A: I began my career as a sales representative at Echo Global Logistics and eventually moved on to running the business analyst division at LoadDelivered Logistics. I recognized it's an industry ripe for innovation, and the opportunity to improve the way businesses operate was exciting to me. I also want to help draw other young people into the industry with products they are excited to use.
Richard D. Steinke
Dick Steinke is a man in demand. As the marine terminals practice leader at Moffatt & Nichol, a Raleigh, N.C.-based engineering and consulting firm, he is the firm's global point man on port issues. And there have been many of them, especially in the past two years.
Before joining Moffatt & Nichol, Steinke worked at the Port of Long Beach for 22 years, 14 of them as executive director. He has also chaired the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the leading U.S. port trade group. From the environment to congestion to security, there is virtually nothing about the world's seaport network that Dick Steinke doesn't know.
Q: Can West Coast ports ever get ahead of the ever-larger volumes moved in and out by megavessels that, in many cases, are too large for existing infrastructure?
A: Major West Coast gateway ports will need to optimize on-dock and near-dock terminal assets through consolidation, automation, and smarter terminal, gate, and intermodal planning strategies. It will come down to the ability of marine terminals to deal with the spike of volumes coming off these ships and making "smarter" landside moves. Dwell time is the enemy of marine terminals.
Q: What are the specific areas right now where your individual skills are in greatest demand?
A: Our company is working with many clients to better use their existing assets via our simulation and automation software tool, "FlexTerm." It allows those moving cargo to explore ways of transporting goods more cost effectively. Taking a good look at ways to assess and improve existing operations—processes, equipment, and labor—can wring out significant efficiencies. My job is to match our capabilities and expertise with the people who need them.
Q: Are there different challenges facing West Coast ports than those facing ports on the East and Gulf coasts?
A: Most ports are experiencing some form of congestion—whether it's on the waterside, landside in the yards, or at gates, intermodal rail facilities, or roadways. Larger ships that cascade from other trade lanes are putting stresses on existing infrastructure not built for these increased volumes. Goods-moving assets have to be used differently than they've been before. That creates stresses on the ports, regardless of the coast. But the size of a ship is only one part of the puzzle. Carriers, BCOs [beneficial cargo owners], labor, rail, trucking, and warehousing all must hold up their end of the bargain. Success occurs when you have a systemwide approach to goods movement. That is where the challenge lies.
Q: Is there an overarching message that the seagoing supply chain should take from the crisis that gripped the West Coast last year and early this year, as well as the battle on the East and Gulf coasts between the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) in 2013?
A: I think the message is that the traditional way of processing cargo has to change. Carrier alliances, larger ships, and supply/demand factors are driving a "new normal." Supply chain links are more interdependent on each other than ever before, and a new era of working together must be forged. International trade through U.S. ports is a critical part of our economy. Exports will continue to play an ever-increasing role as the global middle class continues to grow. The time is now for a commitment to improve our goods movement infrastructure, our industry collaboration, and our collective innovation for the betterment of the system.
Rich Tannenbaum believes in promoting a healthy lifestyle and giving to others. His day job is serving as senior vice president, supply chain and information technology for the Vitamin Shoppe. He has been with the company since 2007 and is currently responsible for managing inventory, distribution, and logistics of all products sold to retail and e-commerce customers. Last year, he also assumed responsibility for the company's information technology across all business channels and functions.
Before joining the Vitamin Shoppe, Tannenbaum was vice president of distribution services for PetSmart. He also spent seven years with the Roll International group of companies and was vice president of distribution at online retailer eToys.
But work is only part of his life. In an extracurricular role, Tannenbaum is the national co-captain of the Vitamin Shoppe's cycling team. Through volunteerism and charitable giving, Team Vitamin Shoppe has formed 25 cycling or walking teams around the country and raised over $1 million for worthy causes, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in particular. Tannenbaum also serves on the Industrial & Professional Advisory Council (IPAC) board for Penn State's College of Engineering, his alma mater, and served as its chair in 2013.
Q: You recently assumed responsibility for IT at your company. How does that role fit with your supply chain responsibilities?
A: When the opportunity came up to work alongside the passionate and talented "health enthusiasts" (this is what we call all associates working at the Vitamin Shoppe) in our IT department, I jumped at the chance. This is an exciting period of change for our company, as the customer experience is evolving so fast in retail and online. Supply chain has always been a heavy user of IT, and they have a lot in common. Both functions involve bringing people, processes, and technology together using a disciplined approach. And you need to have all the right people at the table to make sure you leverage technology on the important opportunities, in the right order.
Q: What challenges have you faced as you progressed through your career?
A: For me, the ongoing challenge is to keep capturing that spirit of innovation and continuous improvement. For example, during my career, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with teams building six distribution centers in different industries to handle toys, pet care supplies, and now health and wellness products. While each DC may have handled similar rectangular boxes, they were unique. We had to look at the data, processes, order fundamentals, and the long-term business strategy to determine what would be the best solution. It would have been easier to design each DC the same way, but probably not the correct choice. I believe you need to push yourself—even when solving familiar challenges. Examine each situation uniquely and be a lifelong learner.
Q: You are also very involved in promoting fitness and volunteerism. Can you discuss your activities in this regard?
A: My "other" job is being the co-captain of the Vitamin Shoppe's cycling team. It started with a small group of riders who raised funds for charity and has grown over the years. We currently have 25 teams around the country with more than 300 riders. They are made up of our own health enthusiasts as well as customers and friends. We ride to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Our biggest rally is held every May and is a two-day 170-mile ride down the New Jersey coastline. Everyone rides for a different reason; perhaps they have a personal connection with MS or maybe riding is part of their health and wellness routine. My Aunt Annie has MS. She is in a wheelchair now and can't ride, so I ride for her.
Q: You've spent a lot of time giving back to your alma mater, Penn State. Why is that important to you?
A: My involvement with Penn State is with its College of Engineering, where I serve the dean on a board and work in particular with the Department of Industrial Engineering. I feel very grateful for the educational and extracurricular opportunities I had while I was a student there. I had the opportunity to study abroad and work closely with different student groups. This helped me develop a global view, leadership skills, and the tools to work well on a team. I think these are important traits for engineers entering the work force today, and my work on the board allows me to help influence curriculum and programs toward those outcomes. Plus, I really like the Creamery ice cream on campus!
Q: Speaking of new graduates, what advice would you give a young person just entering the supply chain management profession?
A: Be the manager of your own career. Develop a long-term strategic vision of where you want to be in three to five years. Revisit that every year and aim toward those goals. Have regular conversations with your supervisor about your goals and how you might achieve them. Career moves don't always have to upward; lateral moves could also be useful for career development. You can also move across your organization in a way that will allow you to build a portfolio of skills and experiences that will last a lifetime and open up new opportunities for you.
Jeff Tucker is CEO of Tucker Co. Worldwide Inc., a family-owned brokerage in Haddonfield, N.J., that focuses on high-value freight. The company was founded in 1961 by Tucker's grandfather, Jacob, as J.A. Tucker & Co. After Jacob's death, Tucker's grandmother, Ruth, ran the company; later Jeff's father, Bill, took over. Now, Jeff runs the company with his brother Jim, who is president and COO.
Tucker's father has been a big presence in the industry, having co-founded the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), and Jeff is following in his footsteps. Since 2006, he has chaired TIA's Carrier Selection Framework Committee and co-written every version of the Carrier Selection Framework. This year, he became chairman of the TIA's board of directors. He's involved with TIA's efforts to pass H.R. 1120 and S. 1454, bills that would create a national hiring standard for motor carriers.
Tucker has testified before the House of Representatives' Committee on Small Business. The Department of Transportation tapped him to serve on its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program subcommittee, advising the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on issues affecting its motor carrier safety scoring and selection criteria.
Q: What are your priorities as the new TIA chair?
A: Over the next two years, I see two overarching priorities.
One is that we establish some reasonable national standard around the hiring of motor carriers, so that the ambiguity around selecting carriers that exists today, and that's promulgated by FMCSA's program, no longer exists. That, to me, is of critical importance.
The other thing I would like to see—and I think that TIA has a great opportunity to get this done—is recruit more women for leadership roles in the organization. To that end, I've charged staff, and I've challenged the board and committee chairs, to actively identify and have dialogue with women who could potentially serve as committee members, committee chairs, or board members of TIA. Fifty percent or more of the transportation people our company deals with are women. I would like to spend significant effort making the makeup of organizations, principally TIA, representative of that population.
Q: What needs to be done on the national motor carrier hiring standard?
A: The CSA program is the first phase of a multiphase project. These (motor carrier safety) scores were never meant to be interpreted on their own. They're evidences of a citation or a violation, or even a warning in some cases. None of the scores predict a future crash. Law enforcement varies dramatically from state to state. Then, when state law enforcement gives a citation, FMCSA has arbitrarily applied a weighting to that. So, an unbuckled seatbelt has worse consequences on the score than another kind of violation. FMCSA really has to get that house in order first. It's got to properly weight these things.
Phase two hasn't come yet, and that's creating an algorithm using all CSA scores (public and private) that spits out something that says yes or no, use this carrier or don't. But FMCSA is starting to forget that it has to do phase two, and it's been saying, "Hey, use CSA's BASIC [Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category] scores."
[The CSA] has been criticized by everyone, including [the DOT's] own inspector general, for goodness' sake, and it's leading to lots of frivolous lawsuits against shippers and brokers. The TIA says the data's useless. And academia, the inspector general, and GAO [Government Accountability Office] say similar things. I don't know how much more clear you can be that this program is a terrible program for carrier selection, as FMCSA's suggesting it be used. I agree entirely with FMCSA that the data it has for internal purposes is far better than what it had in the last program. But it lost all credibility the moment it said this data should be used for carrier selection. The FMCSA really needs to repair its reputation, in my humble opinion.
So, fix phase one, get it to the point where the scores are more relevant, and then put your algorithm together that might predict a future crash.
Also, there are two measures before Congress right now that would create a national motor carrier hiring standard: H.R. 1120 in the House and S. 1454 in the Senate. We see these as a priority.
Q: What's going on with that effort?
A: As with many bills, last Congress it died. It's a new Congress, so we have gotten more support, and we're making headway. We [TIA] continue to meet with Senate staff and House staff, and they've expressed to us their prior concerns, which has really helped. So, I think it's really up to all the different stakeholders out there to coalesce around a position that might satisfy the committee members.
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