Passion for supply chain fuels mission

19 June 2017

By Michelle Goodall, CSCM Advisory board member

I fell into supply chain by accident.  In my last year of school there was definitely no plan to become a supply chain specialist, in fact, back then, I had no idea that was an option. But I liked maths, so I chose to study that at University, and along the way, I discovered the discipline of operations research. Coming out of university I didn’t really know what my options were in that field, but I ended up on the grad programme at New Zealand Post (honestly – because they said they would hire someone with a maths degree, not through any promises of an exciting supply chain career).

In my years at NZ Post, I discovered that I loved understanding how the process fitted together. There were mail centres with manual and machine processes, process rates for calculating resource requirements, and modelling to understand future mail flows and shift patterns. I got to get my hands dirty with the highly detailed delivery (posties) modelling, and understand the operational differences and the associated implications between CourierPost (like a bus) and Pace (like a taxi). I learned about process improvement, warehouse management, fleet management, how long it takes to get a truck of mail from Auckland to Christchurch and the implications on service standards… the list goes on.

However, in all this time, I never considered myself as working in supply chain. 

Having spent the last year working in the Management Consulting team at PwC, I now understand what I do.  It’s supply chain. And fortunately for me, supply chain covers all the things I love best – manufacturing in factories, warehousing, logistics, process improvement.

And I’ve discovered that I’m passionate about it. I love seeing how things are made. My two favourites so far are health supplement capsules and teabags – both fascinating! I enjoy working with operational people – typically down-to-earth, lovely people who themselves are passionate about what they do. It’s exciting to be able to do operational modelling, pulling inputs from different sources to create a picture of current and future states. And there is so much to learn and share!

Having discovered my passion for supply chain, I’m now on a mission. This covers two main areas – inspiring my younger colleagues in supply chain (particularly those who don’t really know what it is), and closing the gender gap.

For my younger colleagues, I want to help them to develop an understanding of the different parts of supply chain, and let them work out if this is an area of interest for them. For those who enjoy supply chain, it’s about helping them to build their knowledge, experience and enjoyment in this space, and giving them opportunities to get involved.

From a gender-gap perspective, supply chain is a heavily male-dominated discipline. As a woman (complete with husband, kids, dogs and cats) I look at the opportunity we have within supply chain to even things out a bit and find some balance. Women bring a different set of skills and a different lens to supply chain - increased diversity can only be a good thing.

CSCM helps with both of these. Having only recently discovered CSCM, I love that we have such a broad range of companies represented. What we do is different, but the challenges within that are similar or the same, and we can learn so much from each other. It’s a great opportunity to share stories, encourage each other, learn, and talk with some really successful women in supply chain (and some successful men too).

I’ve been fortunate enough in the last year to see how a lot of different companies in New Zealand manufacture, warehouse and distribute their products. I’ve seen some impressive operations and worked with some amazing people. And best of all, I’ve been able to help my clients to understand their business better and become more successful in what they do.