SVP, Global Integrated Supply Chain


Q. How did you decide to pursue a career in supply chain?
While I was pursuing my Master of Science in Logistics, I was attracted to the tech-driven, practical world of Supply Chain. It functions as the interface between the commercial and manufacturing aspects; you can say it glues them together. My exposure to Supply Chain was through my first job as a management trainee at the Port of Rotterdam. I was in thick of things, managing the day to day operations - being in the control centre to help navigate the ships as they would come in, loading and unloading containers. I enjoyed the hands-on and diverse nature of the work, which has a big impact on the organization. This experience convinced me to choose Supply Chain as my career path. 
Q. What is your greatest career accomplishment?
I’d say my greatest career accomplishment has been continuous self-learning in order to periodically reinvent my skillset. Supply Chain is a dynamic field where the conventional supply chains as we know them are no longer relevant or applicable. I am now deeply involved in the digitalisation aspect of supply chain, and have got myself familiar with capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Q. Could you expand on your achievements in supply chain innovation?
Within Phillips, we stay at the forefront of what technology has to offer. We are incorporating automation and robotization to create the necessary agility in our supply chains to meet our customers’ increasing expectations. One of the main initiatives at Philips is to transform our planning function into being completely AI driven. While other companies are still deliberating about this, we have a team of data scientists working to build algorithms which can talk to customers. These are already giving promising results. The resulting end-to-end visibility is providing us with real time data on products flows, augmenting our product availability. 
Q. What contribution have you made to the supply chain industry/ your organization that is most meaningful to you?
I have always been keen to help organizations transform the Supply Chain into a true business function – not a cost centre, a “necessary evil” but a true value adding capability. If you manage your Supply Chain well and bring it close to your customer, that will be a true game changer. This was highlighted when a CEO of an organization I have been associated with remarked that while they have great brands which can sell themselves, the one function they cannot do without is Supply Chain which ensures the products are manufactured and shipped according to customer requirements. The recent COVID-19 crisis makes it obvious that if you don’t have your supply chain in order, then you are extremely exposed as an organization.
Q. Your thoughts on how the has industry changed for women from the time you started your supply chain journey?
I started in a 100% male dominated area – there were no women working in the port. It was not always easy. First you have to be accepted because you come from outside the industry, and on top of that you are a woman. Nowadays, I see a big increase in the women coming into the Supply Chain domain and they are doing really well. I don’t think that there is a balance yet, but Supply Chain is no longer an area where people think that women cannot succeed.
Q. What do you think companies can do to make supply chain careers more attractive to women?
I think it starts at the universities. If you can address the imbalance there, it will have a knock on effect on the recruitment downstream. You can see that nowadays you have a lot of women enrolling in STEM programs, and organizations can involve themselves in specific female oriented programs. For example, I am now liaising with University of Rochester which has a program for female engineers to make STEM interesting and accessible for females. We at Philips want to be really close to this, and to start recruiting from there. I personally try to have equal number of males and females in the recruitment process from the start. 
Q. How would you use this recognition to influence others and how would it impact your career?
What I say to the young females in my team is to make sure they are the next one on the list! It is a great recognition, not only personally but also of what women have achieved in Supply Chain, and it is not always an easy journey. I hope that this journey going forward for females becomes easier, and I think that will happen. The more women you have in this area, the more trailblazers who are successful and can demonstrate the value they bring to the organization, the more participation and success of women in Supply Chain will happen.
Q. If you could do one thing to leave your mark on the supply chain industry, what would it be?
I hope to be remembered as someone who really supports women to excel in supply chain function, and gives them the opportunity to accelerate and place bets on themselves. If I can help coach and mentor young females to choose supply chain and achieve the highest success in this field, I’d be really proud of that. In my team, I have few very promising female talent who are under 30 who I’d want to follow through their careers, and I really hope they can follow my footsteps and even go beyond.

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