Sure. The common thread amongst everything in my career really has been supply chain despite the industry, and despite the position in the supply chain that I was in. I gained a passion for supply chain pretty early on in my career in the oil industry with Marathon Oil company and really stuck with that.
One of the reasons is that what drives an individual to make a career choice and
make a career more than just a job is a big noble purpose. I grew up in the seventies and the eighties when the economy was going up and down and up and down and had a lot of gyrations that caused people like my father to be out of work, at different points in the recessions.
And I really saw supply chain to be the one entity that can smooth out that financial turmoil. If you get the biggest companies in the world to be looking out two, three years, into the future and to have those companies then, not react to the moment of, oh my gosh, the economy’s hot, I better be making everything that I can. And I’m like, ah, the economy is cold. I need to be shutting everything down. Then you can really smooth out those economic cycles.
Now, to get more directly to your question, I spent 10 years in the oil industry, they did supply chain really, really well, but it was the oil industry. So, I said to myself, what else is out there, what can I do? And what I found was that a fantastic place to learn about that was in the consulting world, where I could do supply chain consulting, and I could take what I learned from the oil industry, and then apply that to other industry while I was learning about other industries.
I spent a number of years then in the supply chain practice of Computer Sciences Corporation, which has now been absorbed by another company. Applied that knowledge in the consumer products industry, in the high-tech industry, and really got a nice broad perspective on supply chain while I was able to look at best practices and business processes and really get the bigger picture around the supply chain.
And then, the key for me after that was well, that was great. So, what’s next. And that propelled me to take on my first executive role, which was in the medical industry. Going from a consultant to an executive, and you say, Jeff, how did that work? Sometimes it’s luck and being in the right place at the right time. For me, I ran into a guy that said, you could probably solve a lot of the problems that I’m thinking about right now. And then, I also had a big problem with my first job in the medical industry, because at the time it was the head of distribution for the company that made photographic film that’s used in radiology labs. What’s happening to photographic film? It’s going away. Everything is going digital. So, I talked to the head of HR at the time said, why would I take this job? Because this is a dying industry. Said to me very matter of factly, Jeff, you’re being given 300 people, 26 distribution centers, a budget of X million dollars a year to manage who else is giving you this opportunity after a few years in the oil industry and consolidating, and I said, Good point, I’ll take it.
That was one of my funnest experiences, because of the amount of transition that occurred there. We did things in that industry that, five years that I was there that I haven’t seen companies do in 15 years, we consolidated distribution centers. We acquired companies, we had a sister company, which was actually doing high-tech technology. And we did GPS routing of trucks, RFID tags, really, really cutting-edge kind of stuff. And because the industry changes, we ended up being acquired by a private equity firm that did what private equity firms do that they decided to move ahead with their own executive team.
And then that led to my opportunity at Lowe’s Home Improvement, which was again, a terrific opportunity because they didn’t have a forecasting group. They didn’t do much planning. They said we would like you to come and build a forecasting capability for us. I ended up building their forecasting team from the
ground up, branched out into vendor management, had the opportunity to branch out into stores and new store openings and even merchandise planning, and had just a terrific experience at Lowe’s and was there for about 10 years and, just like at Marathon it’s what’s next? What else is out there? What else is going on?
And again, consulting was really great. And software is very much like consulting. And so, I had implemented software at Lowe’s as an executive, I’d like to learn what’s going on in the rest of the world. The Blue Yonder environment has been absolutely fantastic to work in. I grow and learn every day and the amount of change that’s occurring, the amount of artificial intelligence, machine learning, that’s being applied to different strategies that are being applied in supply chain, has been a terrific experience for me. So that’s my career in five minutes.