Interview: Brammer UK Ltd

Name: Gillian Holmes

Job Title: Head of UK Supply Chain

Company: BRAMMER UK Ltd


How long have you worked for BRAMMER?

2 years

What business is your company in?

MRO Supplies and Solutions

How long have you worked as a Head of Supply Chain?

5 years (2 businesses)

During your time in this field, what changes have you seen?

Since first heading up a Supply Chain division 5 years ago I have watched the need to be agile and flexible in your supply chain design and also the ability to be responsive to the changing needs of customers and suppliers increase at an amazing rate. The need to drive continuous improvement into the supply chain in real time is at the forefront of successful solution providers. Mind sets have changed considerably in the last 5-10 years in so much that business more than ever now recognise the need to understand the total cost, structure and culture of their supply chain end to end.

Is it very different from when you first started out? How has your industry changed in regards to supply chain planning?

Yes, it was much more reactive with many improvements being developed on the back of costly errors or issues. Many of our Buyers (customer) are now planning and modelling their supply chain to understand cost versus service, and managing the environmental supply chain as well. No matter what business industry sector Supply Chain Management is becoming more of a science deployed with intuition and experience. More and more supply chain managers are using mathematical and technological tools to model the structure of the supply chain. Of course the real trick is making a model into a profitable reality.

How has your job changed as a result?

Whilst instinct is irreplaceable in business, today it is as much more about taking a "gut feel" and systematically modelling the possible outcomes of that change or design. I am able to factually test theories in a "safe" environment before changing my organisation which allows me more freedom with less risk. It drives creativity and in complex supply chains it can allow you to work though the options to simplify which may not be immediately obvious.

What is your opinion on the future of Supply Chain Planning?

It has a firm place in our future in designing, costing, developing, optimising and managing our supply chains. Any business can optimise it's profitability through good supply chain planning and modelling, managing key objectives areas and working with the planning outcomes.

What personal challenges do you face on a day to day basis in your job?

Managing complexity is still a challenging area today, understanding where we can simplify without impacting key objective areas. Also, matching the structure and culture of a business to the supply chain design, including process and people mapping is still a complicated and tough process but of course a critical one.

How do you overcome these?

Competency based role planning has been critical and using this is resource recruitment and deployment has allowed us to optimise our resource. We've done this following some key modelling within specific areas of the supply chain and plan to use this in other areas going forward.

What software packages do you use to assist you with your job?

Optimiza, CAST (trial), ADP Kerridge, CRM technology

What is your hot tip to others who do a similar job to you?

Understanding the Organisational and market impact of your supply chain is crucial. Supply Chain teams usually are under constant pressure to over perform, to balance the business and take pressure off other areas. Knowing how, where from and how much is great insider knowledge.

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