If Paul Matthews is feeling a bit like the guy in the old E.F.Hutton ads, it's not without cause.When Matthews speaks, it seems, industry listens.
Just days after Matthews spoke at the NA 2006 Executive Forum, a couple of announcements hit the wires that indicated that Matthews' message had been received. In his late March address, Matthews had chastised Corporate America for its failure to recognize supply management as a critical strategic function. A handful of forward-looking companies have elevated supply chain executives to the C level, he said, but most have been slow to invite them into the boardroom. Matthews, who is senior vice president of Limited Logistics Services, urged companies to include supply chain managers in their strategic discussions, reminding his audience that supply chain excellence can be a powerful competitive weapon. (For more on Matthews' address, see RoadTrip, page 19.)
It could be coincidence, but within days of Matthews' speech, two of the nation's biggest retailers promoted supply chain executives to major management positions. On April 4, grocery retailer Stop & Shop named former supply chain guru Jose Alvarez president and chief executive officer (CEO). Alvarez, who joined Stop & Shop in 2001, was previously executive vice president of supply chain and logistics at Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover. He has also served as senior vice president of logistics and vice president of strategic initiatives.
The following day, Wal-Mart announced a management shuffle that included the promotion of a supply chain executive to a C-level position. The mega-retailer revealed that Rollin Ford, previously executive vice president of logistics and supply chain, would replace Linda Dillman as executive vice president and chief information officer (CIO).
Dillman, the force behind Wal-Mart's initial RFID mandates, is leaving her position to oversee risk management and benefits administration for the giant retailer. But her departure should not be taken as an indication that Wal-Mart is backing off from RFID. Ford, who has had a bird's eye view of RFID's impact on the supply chain so far, says he is enthusiastic about RFID's potential and has pledged to stay the course.