Podcast: Launching Off the Career Springboard – with Brett Frankenberg, Coca-Cola Supply Chain Executive

By Published On: June 20, 2022

Hosts: Chris Gaffney and Rodney Apple

In This Episode:

We speak with Brett Frankenberg, most recently Senior Vice President of Product Supply Planning and Bottle Sales for The Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Brett shares how he got started in supply chain through his curiosity about how things work in the physical operation side, but eventually was given an opportunity to get involved in higher-level enterprise systems. He emphasizes the value of curiosity, being truly engaged, and understanding your impact on others. He advises people to get involved in new projects that stretch their skills and perspectives, noting that it often turns into a career springboard. Brett also shares his thoughts on mentorship and leadership, noting that there are many types of successful leaders that you may work for. He notes that as you lead people through change, you have to put more consideration into how that change is absorbed by everyone in the system.

Who is Brett Frankenberg?

Jeff Markey has a wealth of operations, supply chain, and digital transformation expertise across multiple industries spanning nearly 30 years.  Most recently he served as the VP of Global Supply Chain Transformation for The Coca-Cola Company leading an end-to-end process and system transformation in various executive and general management roles.

His prior experience included engineering and manufacturing of rapid test kits as a part of the Diagnostics Division of Abbott Laboratories. Jeff is passionate about supply chain and technology. He has developed best-in-class transformation solutions focused on problem solving and value-based decisioning and is widely recognized as an exceptional servant leader.

Jeff has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Additionally, he attended the Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School. He enjoys running, volunteering, hiking, and family time. 

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Rodney Apple: Thank you, Jeff, for joining us today on the Supply Chain Careers Podcast. Welcome.

Jeff Markey: Thank you, Rodney. Great to be here and happy to share my career journey with you.  

Rodney Apple: How did you get started on that supply chain career journey? Could you take us through the very beginning and maybe some of the key transitions that you made early on in your career? 

Jeff Markey: As a young mechanical engineer coming out of Georgia Tech, I think I really wanted to do engineering work. So, as I thought about jobs at Arthur Anderson, which is Accenture now, consulting roles, International Paper had sales roles, but I really wanted to do a true engineering role. And so, Abbott Laboratories had a wonderful two-year engineering professional development program that I found really attractive where you do four, six months assignments over those two years in different types of engineering roles and different divisions. And you start to learn what it is that you like and what it is that you don’t like as you do that. And so, I really got into equipment engineering, which was kind of line design and putting equipment into factories. I did a lot of robotics at the time. It was kind of new. This is the early nineties, a lot of vision work, our diagnostic, rapid test kits. A lot of high-speed equipment putting lines in, and I was hanging around in our plants doing that, and they started to notice that I really enjoyed being in the factories on a regular basis. And so, leaders started to say, Hey, what’d you think about getting into some operational roles and they had a pilot plant role available after those first couple of years, which was in between R and D and our full-scale operations. So, it was a perfect fit for me, so that was how I got started, really falling in love with operations and the factories at Abbott Labs.

Chris Gaffney: Jeff, the first role out of school is very formative. And as you said, it tells you a lot about what you like to do and don’t do. And that experience sound like a great one, but you and I met down on the line in your career. Tell us what led you to say I’ve done good things, great things at Abbott, but there’s a next place for me and find your way to that next step. 

Jeff Markey: As you guys know, careers aren’t done in a box, that your family is intertwined and all those decisions come into play. I had met my bride in Georgia and when we wanted to start a family, she really wanted to get out of Chicago and get back home to the south. And so, I started exploring companies that were headquartered in the south, particularly around Atlanta. I was discovered by a Coke recruiter and at the time Coke wanted to invest a lot more in its manufacturing, operational leadership capabilities. And so, they were looking for people with five-years experience in another industry that wanted to get into the team leader roles as they call it in the North American syrup business at the time. So that’s what really brought us together, Chris. Cause I got super excited about that. It was food and beverage, so it wasn’t too far away from medical. I like the cleaner factories as I looked at some other industries, that was, again, something that I was learning about myself that I didn’t like, I liked a little bit, that were more FDA regulated, just a little bit cleaner, not necessarily clean room, but something fun to go to. And that’s why Coke really excited me with what they were doing. And I jumped into a team leader, an operational role in those factories.

Rodney Apple: And if I recall correctly, that’s about when I came into the mix and started out leading recruitment for the, I think it was 22 factories give or take. And I remember we worked together, I think you were the production manager at the time.

Jeff Markey: That’s right. Yep. And I was enjoying increasing responsibility in those operational roles, in those different factories, in the different beverage platforms and thought that was something that I would just do my entire career. I think by the time we met Rodney, cause it was a lot of fun and I liked the direction that Coke was taking with its operational roles. I’m sure we’ll get into more here, my career definitely took some interesting turns that I didn’t count on at that time.

Chris Gaffney: Jeff, so many people who were successful in that frontline leadership in the plants, choose to stay in that path and rise up to multi-plant leadership and ultimately leading large manufacturing organizations. And that’s a fantastic path, but clearly you took a different path. Can you talk about where that milestone or that fork in the road occurred and what you were thinking about and how it played out in terms of changing that direction?  

Jeff Markey: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Chris, and I had laid out my whole formal path with Coke, had a very strong succession planning process. And I thought that’s exactly what I would do. Regional responsibility at factories, maybe then running the U S and then you retire. And, sometimes others know you better than you know yourself is what I’ll say. And so, I think it’s really important to have conversations with your mentors and listen to what they’re saying about what you might like. And at that time, a great mentor of mine was a senior leader in operations, in North America. And the board had said we needed to get off of our legacy systems, adapt new processes and replace our enterprise resource planning backbone. And Jim was the business leader, since he knew so much about our plants, it was put in charge of that and he was looking for other operational leaders to help them do that in the factory landscape, all the juice, water and syrup platforms. And he called me and said, Hey, what are you thinking about joining my team and leading the supply chain components of this work. And I told him, I don’t know what SAP is. I don’t like systems work. I’m not an IT guy. I’m a factory rat. I love the factories. I’ve got a career plan. I just want to keep excelling at this. And he kept bugging me and he said, You know what? I think you could make a career out of this. I think you could make a career out of process and system transformation on the business side and really partner with the IT organization as an enabling function. And I had never thought of it that way. And so, he started calling me like a middleware. He said, I think you could be a middleware between business and IT, if he came and did this. And so finally at one point, I said, well, maybe he knows me better than I know myself and I trust him a lot. And he’s been a great mentor and guide for a number of years already at Coke. 

And so, I joined, I joined his team. And after a couple of weeks, I’ll tell you guys, it was funny. I went to him and I said, you got to put me back. I got to go back to the plants. I don’t understand what I’m doing. I don’t understand this language. It’s too technical. And I don’t like it. And he put his arm around me and he said, hang in there. It’s only been a couple weeks. I really think you’re going to love this. You’re going to become an expert at this. I see it in you. You’re going to make a career out of this. And, I want you to stick with it. And of course, as history now shows I did fall in love with it.  

It didn’t happen overnight. What I realized was I was still in the factories a lot. I was helping our employees learn the new processes and systems. And so, I was solving problems and helping people, which is what I really love doing in operations management. And so, I got to do it from a different point of view. So not in there every day, but helping them advance to a higher level of performance through new capabilities that we were putting into the factories and doing it in a lot of different factories instead of just one. And so, I did then recognize, wow, okay. I really do enjoy doing this and obviously continue to get better and better at that. And that led to larger scale transformations we might talk about a little bit more on the podcast, but so that was really the big pivot point for me, Chris. And so that’s why I say you, you don’t know. Sometimes it’s good to just say yes and try something. Cause some people might know you better than you think you know yourself.

Rodney Apple: And from that role, Jeff, you did indicate you moved on to some bigger responsibilities. Take us through that journey. Love to learn more about some of the broader transformation work that this sets you up for, there at Coca-Cola.  

Jeff Markey: It’s a very prescribed path, right? Not too long after we finished all the SAP work at North America, now the entire enterprise was on an SAP ERP backbone.  There was a initiative to refranchising the bottling operations in the U S and some of the key components of that is to create a common IT backbone and to create common standard processes for our bottling network, with a common system. And so, I put myself in a wonderful position to now lead an even broader scale transformation across several dozen factories and hundreds of distribution centers with our largest franchise bottling partners in the U S so I got to learn all the bottling operations as well, and be a part of that. And then get into some components of supply chain that I hadn’t experienced yet. Like infrastructure rationalization, asset negotiation, broader system governance, because we wanted to create a national product supply system as we did the refranchising. And then of course the things that were near and dear to my heart, like the common, IT infrastructure process and system backbone as well. 

All that supply chain governance and infrastructure pieces and selling and rationalizing were things I hadn’t experienced yet. And they were rolled together. And so that fork in the road. As we talked about earlier in my career that said, Hey, let’s leverage that operational experience, but apply it more broadly to process and system transformation, then lead to even greater transformations that the company is leading and I was leading all of that work from a supply chain perspective. It’s a building block. If you are a supervisor in a plant and then you might be a production manager and then might be a general manager, so there’s stepping stones in the transformational world as well that were less formal and defined, but I was cutting that path and then creating a career path for others that would be similar. So, it started with forecasts to deploy and small pieces of supply chain. Then the end to end supply chain within North America and then broader to our franchise bottling partners also then end to end supply chain, but getting into governance and things like that as well. So, it just kept growing. 

And that story then goes global, which is the next step when global transformations were needed. A career path there that just doesn’t look as defined as the operational one. But now I would say from a Coke perspective and probably other companies that, that is there. And it’s a terrific one that I’ve really enjoyed.

Chris Gaffney: So Jeff, as we talked through this, a lot of this front end for you is leading self, right? How do I find that this is the place for me? But, clearly in your plant roles, you were leading others and leading through others. If you get into this transformation side, clearly you’re then having to play the role and bring others into teams like that, but then also gain confidence of clients because in these big transformations, you’re going in and changing a process or a business or an operation. Talk to us about how that soft side development journey and leadership journey for you played out as you’ve made that step from operational leadership into the transformational leadership.

Jeff Markey: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it often gets overemphasized that the hard side is where you spend the bulk of the time and where all the toughest problems are. And what I quickly realized is you can get all of that right, especially around data and the technical components and test everything. And that all works. But you realize that if you don’t get the soft side as you’re describing it, and I would say, a lot of the change management, the stakeholder expectation management, those components will actually do more harm to the transformation journey than the hard pieces. And so that took a little while to get smart at that, and really start to realize I need a very formal structure around the soft components, just as we had for the hard components. I think I learned a lot and then put that model in place where there’s dedicated program management office there’s dedicated change management resources by workstream is a part of the transformation that there’s very much a very formal and more rigid stakeholder engagement and management plans throughout the entire transformation. And then really building champions throughout the organization that is being done to, as you described. Right? So that internally they’re strengthening the message that you’re doing from a program team. So that those stakeholders, those stakeholder champions really understand. So head, heart, and hands for them, and then transferring that to all the people in their organizations, because as you described, as this got bigger and bigger, and the transformation started to go from a few hundred to a few thousand to many thousands, that becomes very difficult to do for the program team, because you’re not working from within that stakeholder organization. 

So, I think I recognize that that was critical to the success and then investing even more of my time as a leader in that than I was in the hard pieces. Cause we usually had a lot of great people that we could get in to do those components and then really building that and strengthening that. So, I think that created a whole part of the organization that other programs recognized were critical to their success as they were leading another project. And so, then the muscle there got really good over time, both internally and with some of our external partners as well.

Rodney Apple: And Jeff I felt like I’ve been a part of these transformations on the recruitment side. Oftentimes new roles are opened up and sometimes you have internal talent that can fit into those roles. Sometimes you have to go external. I’ve certainly experienced transformations that either got off on the wrong start or just ended up being a failure. I’d love to hear your perspective on that. Did you have any major hiccups or challenges along the way? How did you overcome those?

Jeff Markey: Failure is certainly a part of it. There’s no way to have success without the failure. And when you’re doing this type of work, you’re pushing the envelope if you will, and so the odds are that you’re going to have ideas and you get to try things and aren’t going to work and you need to make sure that the organization is patient with that, that the vision is worthwhile, that the business case is well laid out. So everybody understands that, okay, we’re still going to get to where we’re going, but this particular path is not working. We’re going to now try a different path. The business requirements typically change because these things occur over multiple years, the large-scale ones. It’s much, much more difficult to stay on task over a longer period of time for any organization. That vision has to be very compelling. You have to continue to ride people. And other things are going to impact along the way because business requirements will come and go in different ways. 

The program itself has to have a lot of resiliency to some shifting priorities, perhaps some shifting funding, in addition to ideas that simply don’t work as expected. I’ve run into many of those along the way. And I actually enjoy those because then I know that as a team, as a group, both personally, professionally, and for everyone that’s working on it, we’re really getting to the edge of the capabilities of what we thought was possible. If everything was just working all the time, then I’d be unsure.  Maybe we could have gone a little bit further. I’d done this differently, but we don’t know. Cause we didn’t try. It just worked and we kept going. So when you start to have some failure points, you realize, okay, I’m learning more here and doing that than I am if I’m just succeeding at everything that I do. Having wins, no matter how small they are and celebrating those all along the way and showing where the value component is matching the investment as you go through the roadmap or the transformation keeps people engaged, keeps people excited, even as you experienced the challenges and failures and the different priorities that are coming. So, you’ve got to build in some resiliency to the overall effort so it doesn’t get completely knocked on its side as you go through, and then you don’t ever get to the end game.

Chris Gaffney: Jeff, early on when you were involved in these transformations, somebody else was the architect, but at a point in time, you were at the table when the architecture was being developed, and I suspect that you became the architect in some of these. And in many cases, the person providing the bucks has high expectations. Those expectations, change over time. Talk a little bit about how you manage those and then course correct, and, what have you learned going through some of these initiatives that required things to be adjusted?

Jeff Markey: Some things are just true throughout time. As the pressure would come in terms of going faster or doing things at a higher quality or doing things cheaper. I’d always remind people that I can do two of those three things, not all three. So, if you want to go faster and maintain quality, then I can’t do it cheaper. If you want to go cheaper and maintain quality, then I’ll go slower. You have to constantly remember the old mantra of plans are useless, but planning is indispensable is something that I absolutely live by and that’s been true for a very long time. 

And so, you’re always replanning as a part of that process and thinking about, okay, here’s the changing priorities. Okay. This is the implications to the plan. And so really having some good models, Chris, I think that are built over time that can quickly allow you to reanalyze the different requests, whether that’s quicker or adding priorities, which was happening constantly throughout a long transformation. You could say here’s the implications if you want to do it this way. Here’s the implications if we did it in two years, instead of three. Here’s the implications if we did it at this cost versus this one.  

I would find myself often working with the team on whatever challenges were being presented to report that back. So, we’d run the analysis, run the models. We do the business case say, here’s the outcome. And that always worked well when you’re the architect at the table with everybody else that says, oh, okay, this is what it means for the supply chain group if we were to do it in this short of timeframe, or if we only wanted these capabilities. It was good to be able to answer those things relatively quickly and knew that the team had done the analysis and was confident that you could execute.

Rodney Apple: And so Jeff, a lot of companies realized the hard way that what worked before isn’t going to work now. So, a lot of people were starting to seek out on this transformation journey. What would you offer up from an advice perspective for companies that are maybe smaller mid-sized companies that are seeking a major and rapid change. Where do you get started? What’s the key to success? And I would say, especially like you alluded earlier, it’s not so much the hard skills. A lot of times it is those soft skills, change management, things like that. But any advice to offer companies that are starting out on this journey?

Jeff Markey: We’ve talked a lot about my career journey and the history. And as I think back about some of those early days, the technology was available. Our supply chain dreams at the time were so much bigger than the technology was able to support. And that’s completely flipped over. Nowadays, the landscape of capabilities and technology to help small and mid-sized companies or really anybody run their supply chains is overwhelming. And so now it’s more about, wow, like I’ve got these big dreams, but there’s this there’s so much capability to help me meet those. It’s almost completely flipped over than it was, say 25 or 30 years ago. And so how do you enter that landscape and not just get completely lost and invest in things and tools that don’t get adopted or don’t really effectively help the journey that the company might be trying to go on.  

Start with the end in mind. You got to know where you’re going and what it is that you’re trying to become. And you may not have all of the details, but you need to have a pretty good formulated response to that.  When people say they want to digitize their supply chain and say, well, what do you mean by that. What are you going to do? What does that look like when you’re done? So, if it’s not digitized today and I show up in your factory, what do I see? And if it is digitized tomorrow, and I show up and look at your supply chain, what do I see? So, describe that to me. And if they can’t do that, then there’s a lot of thinking that still needs to go into how’s it supposed to work. 

So, don’t get caught up in I need to put an advanced planning system in.  That’s nice, but that’s like saying I need to go buy a new computer. That’s great, but what is it you’re trying to do? What problem are you trying to solve? Where are you trying to go? So, starting with an end in mind and being able to clearly articulate what that looks like, is I knock on the door and say, okay, you’re done digitizing your supply chain. Tell me what it looks like. So that’s one I think really important thing.  

The other thing I would say is that as you begin the journey and I think all the business case around the value and the investment over time for that roadmap of where you’re trying to go, certainly as naturally has to be in there, but you’ve got to build a way to get small wins in, to sustain momentum throughout the journey. A lot of these things can be difficult and challenging and depending on the size and scope and scale that might be tackled. If you start with something really big, that’s not going to deliver value for a couple of years, you’re not going to make it, you’re not going to get there. So, you need to say, well, what can I do now? What do I need to do in the near term to really provide some wins to sustain this momentum and deliver value to the business or to the supply chain? And then have those throughout the journey. So even if it’s a year-long journey or an 18-month journey, you need to have some wins in a month or wins in three months.  

So those are the two things that I would say, begin with the end in mind, and then make sure you’re getting small wins along the way and building momentum.

Chris Gaffney: If you step back and think of a couple of folks and the imprint that they’ve made on you, what are one or two things that you think have been most enduring that you now say, I always carry these with me, both for myself and for my teams.

Jeff Markey: Oh, that’s great. I think about the common thread across a number of leaders that were always providing input throughout my career, especially as I reached different forks in the road. A couple of common themes show up, even though all of them are different in different ways. One is, would never provide direct answers. It was always questions. And the questions would drive a lot of self-reflection and homework for me to go thinking about. So, it wasn’t a matter of, Hey, come knock on my door, tell me what it is. You’re trying to figure out about your career and I’ll spit back an answer. As I think about all of the influential leaders that have really shaped my career that we’ve talked about today, that was something they would always do. I think for a long time, at least half my career, I talked a lot about jobs. And it’s this job or that job or this job or that job. 

Those leaders eventually got me to pivot away and talk more about what it is that I like to do, what it is that I don’t like to do, what it is that I’m good at. How do I add value to the organization and let the leadership think about the job or the role. And what that does is it’s a completely paradigm shift because most of the jobs and roles that I’ve shared with you guys, didn’t exist. They weren’t something that I can point to that say, oh, I wanted to do this on my career path, or I want to be a part of the succession planning for that particular role. So, in an operations environment, yes. It’s very structured and you could do a lot of that. In the transformational space and the journey that I’ve been on that’s not so.   

To always be talking about jobs, you’re trying to talk about something that may not exist. So, the pivot point was to then start to talk more about what it is that I like to do. That’s critical, right? So, for me, supply chain and technology go hand in hand. Any role that I want to be a part of has got to have those things in it.  Then it’s got to have very inspirational leaders. Those influencers had some real common themes, Chris, and how they talk to me in terms of asking great questions and then getting me to think very differently about career paths and career choices. 

And then knowing me better than I know myself in many ways, there’d be a lot of suggestions about things I had to really go think about and say, wow, I think I can make a career out of doing something like that, because I just didn’t see that as possible. So they’re seeing things in a different light that you’d have to go reflect on, which was great. 

Rodney Apple: And Jeff from a leadership perspective, these transformations are very different. There’s some commonalities, but different than leading inside of an operation, day to day operations. Love to hear your thoughts, perspectives, and even advice on how do you lead teams that don’t necessarily report directly into you? What are some of the keys to success? 

Jeff Markey: This kind of work, obviously the bulk of who you’re leading is not reporting into you. It’s a very matrixed organization. I will say that I’ve learned over time that the components of the transformation teams themselves that need to be direct. And we’ve talked about several of those, I think like, program management, like the change management, like the technical, the business pieces, and then partnering with technical resources, right? So, there’s some matrix components there, but a lot of the business led pieces of it, it’s important to have some of that, but that’s a very small portion of the resources that are required to drive the change. As I think about what’s made them successful in the past is you’re always working on the vision and the end state. And it has to be very compelling as you’re talking to the stakeholder groups. But I found myself always talking about why the journey was worthwhile. So yes, sometimes the end vision would change somewhat, but typically it, wouldn’t. It’d be more about, Hey, how do we get there faster? Or maybe we add some pieces to it, but you’re still, you’re always going back to it. Things can start to really unravel if you’re not agreeing on where you’re trying to go and that vision starts to move and the whats start to come apart. And you’re going to go back and forth and that’s all good creative tension between the business folks, maybe your technology folks and the stakeholder groups. That’s what I call good creative tension in the how discussion, because you’re going to learn and that’s where the failures are and those kinds of things. But if you really starting to tear apart the business case or the, what we’re trying to do, or why are we here? What’s in it for me? I think you start to struggle. So, what I found is that you always having to go over that again, but this is our destination, right? And it’s well-described and understood. We’ll argue about that. And we’ll try this and try that.  

So that’s probably one of the the best learnings that I would share. You think that you do that once at the beginning and you put it on the shelf and that would be terribly inaccurate. You need to constantly be talking about that destination and making sure you’ve got commitment and agreement to those whats, regularly with all those groups.

Chris Gaffney: You’ve worked in a lot of challenging settings. You’ve worked in a lot of high stakes environments, exposed to pretty senior folks. You’ve always done it in a very measured way. Not hugely emotional. What is your own guidance that you’ve received and you used on keeping work in proper context so that you can show up and really knock it out in these difficult assignments. 

Jeff Markey: I think just naturally I have a very positive and optimistic attitude and I think that helps. There’s a lot of battle scars along the way, and some of those tough situations, but you realize that you’re in that position, in that role and leading, for what you bring to the table. And if you take those non-negotiables away, then the overall group and structure, the work loses a really important piece. And I say this, not just for myself, but everybody that’s working on the transformation, whether it’s a stakeholder group leader, whether it’s a technology team leader, everybody’s got it, should have their non-negotiables that they say, Hey, look, I can’t go there with this. And I think that provides a certain level of even keel to the discussions, like, okay, we know we can’t do that cause the supply chain guys, that’s a non-starter with them. And we know we can’t do that cause that’s a non-starter with the technical teams.  

I love to exercise. In terms of work-life balance, spending time with your family, all those things come into play to really allow you to show up, to be your best self every day. I think if you get too far out of balance you’re either working all the time or you’re having fun all the time, you probably aren’t bringing your best self to either of those situations. So, I think you’ve got to find a groove that works really well for you personally in that, and I certainly have achieved that. And sometimes, if you really are training for a big race, maybe you lean hard a little bit the one way, or maybe you’ve got a huge deadline or a big important milestone, and you lean a little bit the other way, but in general, you stay very balanced. And I think that brings a lot of resiliency and energy to everything that you’re doing. Learn where that groove is for you over time, particularly if you’re going to different countries and time zones and trying to figure all that out to stay balanced because it’s very easy to get sideways. I know what that looks like. People know what that looks like for me, Chris, they have a nickname for it.  I won’t put it in the podcast, but they say, you know what, you’re being that Jeff today. So, something’s wrong. You need to get that straightened out because this isn’t the best you and we need the best you. So, I’ve learned that too, and that’s come throughout feedback. All that 360 feedback, all that kind of stuff really helps you learn all those things over time, you don’t necessarily understand all that about yourself. You need to see how others see you and view you through the work. And that helps you find that really good balance. 

Rodney Apple: So Jeff, change is always constant in supply chain. What would you advise people, let’s say the up-and-comers that are coming up the ranks, what are some things they could do to position themselves to work in this fascinating world of supply chain transformation, where they’re really moving that needle forward for their organization?

Jeff Markey: We talked a little bit about it throughout the podcast, in terms of really understanding what it is that you like, what it is you don’t like, what is it that you see could be done better? What problems are you trying to solve and not necessarily getting wrapped up so much into the how right away. Cause I think that if you’re working in logistics, you’re working in procurement, working in supply chain, there’s always problems to solve. And that’s why I love it and stayed in supply chain my entire career and they can be very near-term problems that are happening this minute or this day or this week, or they could be longer term problems. And so, if somebody is really interested in the transformation, as opposed to just the execution on a daily basis, I think about, okay, what would make things better? What is difficult about today? What problem if I can help solve it? And then I think you have to show some natural curiosity to learn about how to solve something like that and really study the problem, talk to people that are living the problem, and really get a flavor for understanding, looking at it from lots of different angles, in talking to other people that are living it and then experience it. Then you can start to see, okay, I think I maybe could find a way to make this better. And then, think about getting into roles that could lead to implementing the transformation. And that’s what I found myself doing. I need to go learn these things to figure that out, but I’m really curious about that and then experiment, try, fail, try something else. You gotta have some real natural curiosity. Helping people and solving problems in the supply chain these days, that’s what these big transformations are really doing, at their heart and soul. They got all kinds of neat things around them. They’re helping people and solving problems and improving what it is that we’re executing against from an end to end perspective in supply chain.

Chris Gaffney: Yeah, you’ve made you made me think of one more. I took a training class many, many years ago, and in that class I was asked to write a letter to my younger self, which was essentially advice that would have been helpful to me. If you summarize all the things that we’ve talked about, if you would have written that letter to yourself, what would it say knowing what you know now? 

Jeff Markey: I did not take that class and I have not written that letter just for the record. I think my younger self had a very narrow view of what a supply chain career could look like. And so, one of the things I would write is that, Hey bud, there’s a lot more things you could do than you’re thinking about. And so be very open-minded and really listen to those around you, but have more of a growth mindset. And if it doesn’t work out, fine, you haven’t really lost much time. You probably learned some stuff along the way, then try something else. So, I think that would definitely be in a letter to me now others may have already gotten over that. And that’s terrific. So, then I would say, okay, don’t think in terms of roles and jobs, think in terms of what is you like to do in the type of things that excite you, so just be more curious, more open, be more broad in your thinking, because if I had stuck with that narrow of mindset, I never would have gotten into any of this system work. I never would have discovered my affinity for the type of work that I do without that. You have to have trust. You have to have trust in mentors and influencers along the way, because a lot of times they’ll know you better than you know yourself and you need to listen to them. 

Rodney Apple: And I would offer up to for the audience, volunteer sometimes, just raising your hand, I need some help with this problem or a project, proactively seek these opportunities out, make people aware of what you want to do, your aspirations and volunteer. Get involved. Network internally, build those relationships. So, when these big projects or transformations come up, they think of you to be a member of that team. And then you work your way up. 

Jeff Markey: I think that’s a great point, Rodney, just to emphasize, the hybrid working environment, I think is critical. I’ve had so many of these opportunities that occurred in cafeterias or at dinners or in those networking conversations that you’ve talked about. And so, in the remote world, those things got really, really tough. And now that we’ve got a bit more of a hybrid model, I think it’s critical that you leverage that time and space to connect with people around these things in particular, your development and your career and these kinds of conversations, as well as the work itself. If I think back and we were in a wholly remote mode, I don’t think I would’ve found out about a number of these jobs or transformations, that people wouldn’t have approached me necessarily because those ad hoc interactions just weren’t occurring. I think you made me realize that’s an important piece of advice for everyone as well, too. So, there’s a tremendous amount of value. 

Rodney Apple: So, Jeff, thanks again for sharing your career journey talking about transformation and all the wonderful things you did there at Coke to help them move that needle forward. We appreciate you sharing your career journey and perspectives. Thanks for coming on the supply chain careers podcast.

Jeff Markey: I’ve really enjoyed reflecting back on my career and the different forks in the roads and the milestones and how I got where I was. So, thank you very much for having me.