While only about two in every five undergraduate supply chain-focused students at universities are women, they hold a scant 3 percent of executive-level leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. The Management Sciences department at Fisher College of Business this fall has launched a new initiative seeking to grow those numbers at both ends of the pipeline.
The department this academic year welcomed its first round of scholars in the Pathways for Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain program, a group of eight first-year undergraduate women at Fisher College of Business. Each student has received a $2,500 scholarship, funded by this year’s Pathways Scholars sponsors: Columbus-based Motorists Insurance Group and Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Cooperative.
Management Sciences Department Chair Ken Boyer said he worked to launch the program for reasons both personal and practical. He’s the son of one of the first women to earn a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin 60 years ago.
“Barriers to women in a variety of professions have been greatly reduced in the intervening decades,” Boyer said. “Unfortunately, this is far different from saying there are no challenges.”
Indeed, data from research firm Gartner shows women staff only 20 percent of supply chain leadership roles at the director level and higher. This comes as the nation’s supply chain workforce faces a troubling shortage as waves of baby boomer retirements crest.
Krista Pohlman, senior director of program management for Wendy’s QSSC, said developing the company’s talent pipeline was a key motivator in signing on to fund the Pathways Scholars program.
“We really want to be a world-class supply chain organization,” Pohlman said. “To collaborate with Ohio State in an effort to bring more women into this industry is something we’re immensely proud of.”
Ralph Smithers, assistant VP of Associate and Community Engagement at Motorists, said the company approached the opportunity with similar goals.
“We’d like to increase the number of women in the supply chain management field, and it’s a great opportunity to work with Fisher on this,” he said.
The scholars in the program, in addition to their funding, connect with mentors from Motorists and QSSC over the course of the year and receive coaching from Fisher professors. They also connect with supply chain organizations through several exclusive events hosted throughout the year. Already this fall, the students have toured Wendy’s and Wendy’s GSCC, attended a National Association of Women Business Owners conference, and met with supply chain leaders from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nestle USA and DSW Inc.
Ultimately, Boyer said, the participating students will be well-positioned to find supply chain leadership roles as they enter the workforce.
For information on the Pathways program and sponsorship, check out its website or contact Ken Boyer at email@example.com.
Even as an icon in leadership circles who’s built a thriving, multibillion-dollar retail business, L Brands Founder, Chairman and CEO Les Wexner stays true to his roots – and is quick to acknowledge them.
“But for The Ohio State University, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college and get the basic education that helped me so significantly in my career,” he said, opening his featured keynote at the Center for Operational Excellence’s September seminar. “Every time I come back on campus, I smile to myself.”
Wexner came back on campus to headline a leadership seminar that attracted nearly 300 attendees, making it the largest in COE’s nearly 25-year history. Here’s a look back at some of his best insights over a wide-ranging discussion that covered his personal philosophy on leadership – what he called “a lifetime executive education program you have to master for yourself” – along with his outlook on the retail business and his verdict on crucial past decisions he’s made:
On the value of leadership education: “I firmly believe leadership is not just an important thing – it’s the most important thing, and it’s undervalued in high schools, colleges and universities. If there’s a single thread of teaching and learning that I try to influence at our university, and influence other educators to think about, it’s the importance of leadership as a subject.”
On what makes a great leader: “Leaders come in all shapes and sizes with virtually every characteristic and kind of personality, but they all have the ability to influence, and influence is the foundation of leadership – whether it’s by pushing from behind, coalescing the middle or being an insurgent, General Patton-type. I always default to the front; I like to churn things up and say, ‘We can take that hill, let’s charge.’”
On the virtue of adaptability: “Leaders that continue to grow are optimistic but they’re professionally curious about society and they think about adapting, trying new things, and understanding things they can’t so they can be continually relevant in their own lives. … In my thinking, the only way to test my adaptability is to do something different. It’s very important mid-career not only to have a good understand of yourself, but to think about how to exercise that curiosity muscle between your ears and be adaptive.”
On why brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay: “We’re pack animals. People like to be with people; that’s part of the human condition. It’s what they buy that changes, and one of the things that’s interesting to us is how the Internet has changed lifestyles, communication, and the consumer. … Still, we find that shopping has to be fun and interesting, and we’ve been experimenting with that for several years.”
On his game-changing decisions to spin off brands such as Abercrombie + Fitch, The Limited and Express: “I believe in life cycles. I look at those cycles and say, ‘OK, when’s the next wave coming, and is that a good or a bad thing for us? Those were very tough decisions I thought over for a long time. I gathered in my own mind the information and had to suck up some courage to do it. It turned out to be the right thing to do and it did take our business to a better place.”
On the inevitable challenge, and opportunity, of risk: “Leaders have to have a pretty good instrument on risk. We remember generals that won wars, not the ones that got killed doing foolish things. There’s that notion of knowing yourself, and leadership is about change, taking people to places that haven’t imagined. That means risk. … Leaders have a vision that’s a little different than the one that’s popular at the moment, and in that you have to assess failure. If I didn’t screw up some things, that means I didn’t push hard enough.”
On why aiming high matters: “I try to encourage our enterprise to really dream. If you don’t have a dream, you can’t have a dream come true. Still, you have to focus on ambition, in part, and separately think about the resources you need, and the risks. … The world’s changing while we’re here and it’s just going to get faster in the future. Are we stimulated by that? I am.”
On how he stays busy – and grounded: “What I worry about is running out of work – it would just be a terminal thing. I like the idea of work, and I have a substantive to-do list that’s more than I can finish. … I made a decision in my early 40s that I could make more money but I couldn’t make more time. Nobody can make more time. If I was effective and efficient, I could do more with the limited time I have.”
On why he enjoys leading: “People ask me when I’m going to retire, and I say, ‘When I’m unhappy.’ I like the people I work with, the challenges, the changes. Leaders have to be happy with themselves. If they’re not, they can’t lead themselves, let alone others.”
On the ultimate test of a leader: “The simplest measure of leadership is this: Did you actually take people to a better place? Are we better off today than we were yesterday, whether that’s in business, family or community? It’s not about how many people followed you blindly. Did you actually improve things in hindsight?”
The next time you think your organization’s process problems are so singular they couldn’t be happening anywhere else, ask Joe Langlitz and his colleagues how they spent the first month of their summer this year.
Langlitz and fellow Fisher College of Business MBA students James Goetter and Wenzhao Bi closed out their first year in the program with an 8,000-mile trip below the equator to Gaborone, Botswana. They were one of eight groups of students sent overseas through Fisher’s Global Applied Projects (GAP) program to work up-close with a corporation to solve a business challenge. Sponsoring the students’ gap team was the Botswana arm of British banking giant Barclays, where Fisher alumnus Jeff Davis serves as Chief Risk Officer.
Looking back at the work Langlitz and his team completed, Davis says they’ve helped lay the groundwork for some major improvements in Barclays’ business loan approval process. Getting there, however, entailed a frenzied three-week mission to hunt down process waste that put to work what each team member brought from the classroom and enlisted the help of a few Center for Operational Excellence members, too.
‘I wanted a revolution’
Davis cut his teeth in the birthplace of lean manufacturing, working with automakers and suppliers as they applied lean/Six Sigma principles. Today he’s a top officer at Barclays Botswana, which employs 1,200 at its corporate office and 42 branches and ranks as the second-largest bank in the market.
“When I got into financial services later in life, I would see our processes through the lens of the learnings I had in the automotive industry and would get frustrated at our inability to do true lessons and root-cause analysis in our pursuit of simple, repeatable processes.”
A particular target of Davis’ frustration was the corporate loan approval process at Barclays Botswana, which could – and often did – take as few as two days but also could stretch past six months in some instances, putting average turnaround just shy of four months.
“I wanted a revolution,” Davis said. “I wanted 500 percent better.”
Davis took his first steps toward a solution by connecting with the GAP program at his alma mater, eventually bringing the trio from Fisher to Gaborone and pairing them with two MBA students from the University of Botswana. The project team had zero formal corporate banking experience – and that’s exactly what Davis wanted.
“We wanted an injection of new ideas,” he said.
Langlitz admits to a dose of culture shock upon arrival. Gaborone is the governmental and economic capital of a country with a fast-growing economy, but one that also still relies heavily upon mining and the cattle trade. It’s the latter – particularly their penchant for wandering onto busy roads in Gaborone – that struck the team in their early days.
“The first week we were there, it really sunk in: ‘We’re on the opposite side of the equator,’” he said.
The more time the team spent in country, however, the more familiar it became – and the more Langlitz and others saw how universal challenges such as those at Barclays are.
“They’re just like any institution,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out better ways to serve the customer.”
The GAP team and their University of Botswana colleagues took on what Barclays dubbed “Project Firefly,” an extensive effort to visualize the loan approval process flow in the form of a value stream map and, importantly, flag non-value-added elements therein. The long-term goal is to slash average loan-processing time a staggering 90 percent to only 10 days.
Mapping the process required interviewing numerous stakeholders across different offices and navigating at-times fraught situations.
“With the overall process so fragmented, teams tend to be myopic when dissecting which processes are adding to uncompetitive turnaround times,” Davis said. “We asked the team to hold a mirror up and tell our people what’s going on without placing blame, and they did a nice job of lowering defenses.”
In addition to receiving regular coaching from COE Executive Director Peg Pennington, the Project Firefly team also sought insights on the challenge at hand from two member companies: Huntington National Bank and KeyCorp.
“A lot of the pain points they had,” Langlitz said, “were pain points Barclays has been dealing with.”
Jeremy Winstel, a senior manager of enterprise lean/Six Sigma for Key, said reducing customer hassle has been a regular focus for the bank in its process improvement efforts. His insights served as a key early benchmarking opportunity for the project team before and during their stint in Gaborone.
“Providing this knowledge transfer assistance has been a great way to get plugged in to Fisher and try to help out,” Winstel said. “That’s what the COE’s about, holistically.”
Kevin Plaugher, senior vice president and business banking credit manager at Huntington, also spent time walking the team through the credit approval process and imparting a key bit of wisdom:
“It’s like physics,” Plaugher said. “If you want to extend credit to the customer, there are certain things you have to do, and you can’t pretend steps in the process can be skipped or eliminated. Still, even with the most manual processes, there are tools to make it faster, simpler, and clearer.”
Langlitz said benchmarking with Huntington and Key “sent us down the right path” to ultimately making this key discovery: More than half of the time Barclays Botswana spent processing loans was non-value-added. This opened the door to substantial improvements.
Just the beginning
The Project Firefly team capped their nearly three-week stint with Barclays Botswana by reporting out their findings and recommendations to the bank’s executive leadership team and its Managing Director, the region’s top-ranking official. Langlitz said the team took particular pride in the fact that none of its recommendations came strictly from qualitative information.
“All our recommendations were data-driven,” Langlitz said. “These weren’t just because we heard someone say it was a good idea.”
The results and recommendations provided major clarity for Barclays going forward, even if Davis and his colleagues already knew process waste was a problem.
“We knew there was a lot of waste in the system, but we’d never been able to measure it,” he said. “They did a great job of taking a complicated set of data from a lot of locations and distilling it down to a very clear story to tell.”
Through the summer, Barclays Botswana began hiring additional associates and making its first strides in implementing some of the Project Firefly recommendations. Improvement efforts are set to ramp up through the fall, Davis said, for what is expected to be an ongoing process.
As for the students, Langlitz said he and his colleagues gained invaluable process improvement skills, through an unforgettable experience, no less.
“Being able to say I’ve been there, done business in a different culture, I’m a lot more comfortable now.”
Columbus-based BMW Financial has selected five startups to join an Innovation Lab, dubbed the automotive sector’s first financial technology business incubator. “The five finalists,” according to AM Online, present a range of innovations that could revolutionize how consumers own and insure cars in the future, from opening up entirely new types of leases to consumers, through to tackling the barriers young drivers face.”
FedEx Corp. this week unveiled a number of changes in its C-suite, led by news that FedEx Express chief Dave Bronczek will become president and COO of the parent company. This makes him primed to succeed CEO Fred Smith. FedEx also announced the retirement of Mike Glenn, whose roles included co-CEO of FedEx Services. The other Co-CEO, Rob Carter, will become FedEx Services CEO in 2017.
Cleveland-based KeyCorp this week received clearance from the Office for the Comptroller of the Currency to buy Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group. It’s the last step in a nearly yearlong process to merge the banks’ assets.
Columbus-based Nationwide is buying Jefferson National of Louisville, taking on the company’s portfolio of investment and fee-based advisers. Nationwide said the deal marks a major expansion of its sales reach in the financial services market. The transaction, which will make Jefferson National a Nationwide subsidiary, is set to close early next year.
The “But For Ohio State” fundraising campaign launched under former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is coming to a close with a haul past the $3 billion mark. OSU President Michael Drake on Thursday told major donors that the university brought in $3,004,563,961. For scale, that’s about half of the university’s annual top line.
Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance said it plans to hire about 1,300 people by the end of the year, mostly information technology positions. Jobs will be added at its headquarters and other offices around the country. That’s an increase of about 5 percent over Progressive’s headcount as of June 2016.
Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO of OSU’s Wexner Medical Center, said in a recent interview that he’s seeking to “make Ohio State a place where innovation and research are really top of the chart.” Growth areas, he said, include research in addictive medicine and health policy.
Don’t just take it from us that our featured keynote for next month’s Center for Operational Excellence supply chain event is a big deal.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals at its annual conference in Orlando this week awarded Dr. Chris Caplice the Distinguished Service Award, the most prestigious honor around for supply chain professionals. Caplice, the executive director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, is the keynote at COE’s Oct. 21 supply chain forum. Registration is open now, though seating is restricted to employees of COE member companies.
Speaking of Caplice, CSCMP CEO Rick Blasgen said that Caplice “from his involvement in education, to his innovative work in identifying and developing technologies that have contributed to the improved efficiency and effectiveness of transportation, logistics, and supply chain processes … has had a dramatic impact in shaping the supply chain discipline as we know it.”
Caplice has contributed to our growing knowledge on supply chain management from the industry and academic side, placing himself in what CSCMP calls an elite group. In addition to his MIT role, he has worked at Logistics.com, Sabre Holdings, the Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Army, where he served as an officer.
At COE’s event next month, Caplice is addressing a serious challenge for many organizations today, which lack supply chain designs that can suitably adapt to disruptions. He’ll be highlighting four oncoming trends – miniaturization, virtualization, decentralization and digitization – that will alter the competitive landscape as companies devise new ways to serve their customers. This session will provide supply chain managers and others with new insights as they rethink assumptions in their partner selection, distribution network design, and chosen service platforms.
Cardinal Health Inc. is making a concerted effort to promote women because that will bring it closer to its customers in health care, said Paul Gotti, vice president of nuclear pharmacy at the Dublin health care giant.
Crown Equipment was honored Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services for its dedication to hiring and retaining military veterans. Chip Tansill, director of the the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, traveled to Crown’s headquarters in New Bremen to thank the veterans for their service, and to acknowledge the company’s consistent recruitment of Ohio’s military servicemen and women.
Columbus-based Huntington announced its $3.4 billion purchase of FirstMerit in January. The deal closed two weeks ago and FirstMerit will be converted to the Huntington brand in full early next year. Until then, Huntington is asking FirstMerit customers to continue using existing FirstMerit branches.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center had $3.21 billion revenue in its first full year with the James Cancer Hospital tower and doubled emergency department, a 9 percent increase over the prior year and passing the $3 billion milestone for the first time.
An unidentified beauty products company will receive a six-year, 1.485 percent tax credit in a pass-through by third-party logistics partner DHL Supply Chain. The company, formerly known as Exel, will add $13.31 million in annual payroll as a result of the project.
A Marysville hospital system is scrapping plans for an expansion in the city, opting instead to turn 90 acres of undeveloped land back over to Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. for product testing. Memorial Health will sell the land bordering Route 33 to Scotts (NYSE:SMG) for $4 million, both organizations said.
The tiremaker this week disclosed that Gregory L. Smith, senior vice president of global operations, will leave the company Dec. 15. Joe Zekoski, the company’s chief technical officer, took over his duties earlier in August.
The Delaware, Ohio-based industrial packaging maker said it had profit of 78 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 91 cents per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations of 72 cents a share.
An unconventional effort to reform Ohio’s K-12 education system is sending a new pack of leaders out with more than an MBA from Fisher College of Business and a certification to serve as a principal.
They can wield some foundational operational excellence tools, as well.
Fisher this summer graduated 30 students as part of the BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools program after they spent nearly a year working as administrators in high-poverty schools around the state and completed an accelerated MBA program at Fisher. The program, launched in 2015 with $3.5 million in state funding and help from Fisher and the Ohio Business Roundtable, takes business professionals from a variety of backgrounds – largely non-education – and deploys them throughout the state as principals. BRIGHT fellows, as they’re called, must serve as a school administrator for at least three years after graduation.
At a presentation prior to graduation, a number of BRIGHT fellows showed the results of their work tackling the A3 problem-solving methodology, one of a few tools Center for Operational Excellence Executive Director and BRIGHT educator Peg Pennington introduced to the curriculum.
“The BRIGHT program itself is an experiment, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not do an experiment of our own here?’” Pennington said. “These problem-solving skills – A3s, root-cause analysis – are powerful tools anywhere, and I think they can really help cut to the heart of some of issues that plague our education system.”
For the BRIGHT fellows, those issues included lagging math and reading scores, a lack of collaboration between upper- and lower-grade students and educators, truancy, and discipline referrals, among others. Pennington in her classes with the BRIGHT fellows showed how the A3 and root-cause analysis can properly define the problem and, medically speaking, move past managing symptoms to truly treat the underlying ailment.
David Maile, a longtime plant farm owner who transitioned out of the business two years ago, signed onto the BRIGHT program and found himself as an administrator at Highview 6th Grade Center in the Cincinnati suburb of Middletown, where the poverty rate has jumped from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent in about 15 years. Maile leveraged root-cause analysis and A3 problem-solving to improve math scores in the school, where he said much of the challenge was in bringing a level of consistency and precision to data collection.
Other process-improvement projects were of a more qualitative nature. Jeff Greenley, a lawyer by training, worked in the Switzerland of Ohio School District in Appalachian Ohio, the highest-poverty region in the Buckeye State. Greenley’s school housed a wide age range of students that rarely interacted, in large part because they didn’t see the value in it. Greenley did.
After defining the problem via an A3 and enacting countermeasures, Greenley finished the school year with more than four in five upper-grade students helping out and interacting with elementary-age students. The A3 process, he said, was eye-opening.
“There are not a lot of tools at our disposal in education to think about operational problems,” he said. “This is a hammer we can use to hit the nail.”
Regardless of the challenge, the BRIGHT fellows discovered very quickly that data was a crucial asset in their problem-solving journey – even if it wasn’t used as such in their schools. Astrid Arca, an economist for the state of Ohio, served in the same Appalachian school district as Greenley and took on the challenge of improving reading and math schools in a student population with a high percentage on so-called individual education plans. The data needed to cut to the heart of the problem, Arca found, existed – but weren’t being analyzed to inform instructional practices.
“There was almost a fear of the data,” she said, “and most of my job was removing those barriers.”
BRIGHT leaders are hoping that spirit has a transformative effect in the schools where its graduates are heading this fall and beyond, even if the difference in background for many fellows hasn’t gone unnoticed. Deborah Copeland, a BRIGHT principal coach with a nearly 30-year background as an elementary school principal, acknowledged a level of skepticism around “outside” people taking a leadership role in education. Often, she said, it just takes spending time alongside the fellows to see that they have the skills and capability to drive change.
“It’s been a joy watching these fellows coming in with a different perspective, full of hope and promise and not weighted down by the barriers that those of us who’ve been in the trenches often get blinded by,” Copeland said.
The BRIGHT fellows themselves are the source of a telling data point: About 90 percent had K-12 principal or assistant principal jobs locked in at the start of the school year.
A pair of Center for Operational Excellence members have landed on ComputerWorld’s annual ranking of the best companies to work in information technology.
The magazine’s 23rd annual ranking placed Toledo-based COE member Owens Corning fourth on its large-company list, up from No. 7 in 2015. Columbus-based Nationwide landed at No. 36 on the list, up from 49th in 2015.
ComputerWorld’s rankings surveyed nearly 25,000 I.T. staffers at the nominated companies to rank the list, culling details on office culture, benefits, and training/career development opportunities.
The magazine singled out Owens Corning’s “dynamic environment that offers employees opportunities to grow professionally.” Nationwide received plaudits for its learning and innovation events, “hackathons” and peer-led educational sessions. The company also is active in COE’s IT Leadership Network, a group of IT leaders committed to implementing process improvement principles in that space.
Coming in at No. 1 on the large-company list this year was Detroit-based Quicken Loans, whose president spoke for COE members in 2012.
Explore the list here or download a PDF of the detailed ranking here.
Nearly half of COE’s member companies or their parent organizations made the ranks of the 1,000 largest companies in the U.S., with 10 cracking the Fortune 500.
The magazine’s much-hyped annual list was released earlier this month, with Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health cracking the Fortune 25 at No. 21, with $102 billion in annual revenue. Cardinal Health is the highest-ranked COE member company on the list and the second-highest Ohio-based company, behind No. 17-ranked Kroger ($109 billion).
Other COE members and member company owners in the Fortune 500:
58. FedEx Services parent FedEx ($47.5 billion)
69. Nationwide ($40.2 billion)
128. Emerson Climate Technologies parent Emerson Electric ($22.3 billion)
137. Progressive Insurance ($20.9 billion)
138. Abbott Laboratories ($20.7 billion)
165. American Electric Power Company ($16.9 billion)
169. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ($16.4 billion)
224. Parker-Hannifin ($12.7 billion)
480. Owens Corning ($5.4 billion)
Member companies that fell outside the 500 but made the ranks of the Fortune 1,000 are
Whether it’s at a $70 billion-a-year consumer products conglomerate or a fledgling business in the heart of the Buckeye State, innovation is the fuel that keeps organizations moving and evolving.
The Center for Operational Excellence is continuing its three-part “Innovation Summer” series in July and August with a look at two very different organizations of vastly different scope and how best practices in product development are helping them grow.
On Wednesday, July 13, COE welcomes Meri Stevens (pictured, left), the vice president of supply chain strategy and deployment at Johnson & Johnson for Innovation Summer, Part 2: Innovation Beyond Your Four Walls. Building on a June 16 keynote from Mark Anderson of 3M Co. on R&D collaboration inside the company, Stevens will share how the maker of Tylenol, Listerine, and countless other products is collaborating upstream and downstream to fuel radical, breakthrough innovation.
For Johnson & Johnson, even the very concepts of “upstream” and “downstream” are changing in an era of unprecedented consumer involvement as products such as 3-D printers extend value creation beyond the company’s borders. Stevens will share how this shift has brought about major cultural change for J&J’s thousands of supply chain employees as they work to “move the needle” for the Fortune 50 business.
Stevens’ presentation will be followed by a trio of TED Talk-like presentations from Fisher College of Business researchers, led by “Innovation Summer” organizer Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran, on the latest insights into collaborative innovation.
Click here to register for this 8:30 a.m. to noon event at Ohio State’s Fawcett Center, exclusively for employees of COE member companies. This session is recommended for those interested in either innovation or supply chain management.
“Innovation Summer” concludes Thursday, Aug. 18, by exploring principles of the “lean startup” with a presentation from Buckeye football greats Bobby Carpenter (pictured, far left) and Anthony Schlegel (pictured, immediate left). Both Carpenter and Schlegel, Fisher College of Business MBA graduates who played for the Buckeyes and went on to be drafted in the NFL, founded The Difference USA LLC, which makes and markets a portable striking machine. Schlegel, who invented The Difference, will share along with Carpenter his journey to bring the product to life and the lasting lessons the team has learned about the process of innovation.
Registration for this event is set to open Wednesday, July 13.