When I became the Senior Director of Global Logistics Procurement at The Chemours Company in late 2016, I figured I was walking into a pretty manageable job. I didn’t have a background in Logistics or Supply Chain, but have been with the DuPont/Chemours company for 30 years and held 10 or so different positions from the lab to manufacturing, regulatory, business, marketing, sales and procurement.
"We implemented a new global transportation management system, which was the first global instance of such a system ever in our company"
In most cases, I was walking in with little experience - and had to quickly learn the ropes, mainly relying on a team of experienced professionals to teach me what I needed to know. It worked before, I was sure it would work again. After all, we’ve always been pretty good at procuring transportation, meeting internal client needs and driving costs down.
But Chemours was a different environment than anywhere I’ve ever worked. After spinning off from DuPont in 2015, the company in 2016 began its own transformation journey. The function I was about to lead needed to transform as well – and there was no experience to rely on.
During our corporate transformation, we launched our company values. One of our values was to be “Customer Centered.” We say that we will drive customers' growth (and ours) by understanding customers’ needs and by building long-lasting relationships. My job was to help figure out how the global logistics procurement team would support our business teams be more customer-centered – along with, of course, meeting the day to day challenges and expectations of moving our products by ocean, rail, truck and air.
The first order of business was to get closer to our internal clients. We needed to understand their growth strategy and how Chemours is differentiated in our markets and with our customers. To do this, we focused on building better internal relationships which led to an improved understanding of business requirements, but also a much more collaborative approach to designing logistics solutions.
Next was to drive a better understanding of service level needs and key performance indicators (KPIs). What we learned by focusing on KPIs is the way we’ve been choosing carriers and bidding all these years was not the way the businesses needed us to be buying. We also needed to be asking more of our third-party logistics providers (3PL) and we needed better technology.
Almost 3 years later, the team looks and works differently. We implemented a new global transportation management system, which was the first global instance of such a system ever in our company. It helped drive standard processes across businesses and regions and allowed us to finally track and measure the KPIs that were so important to us being customer-centered.
We moved to a new 3PL that could help us raise the bar with data and analytics. We shifted toward measuring “total cost of ownership” and customer experience versus a bidding-for-lower-rate mentality – which required a much closer and more strategic relationship with our carriers.
My global team was always good at ensuring our rates were competitive and that our products arrived safely at their destination. We’ve transformed into a value-added function that is critical to the success of one of Chemour's most important values, being customer-centered. I love this job!