Excerpts reprinted from DC VELOCITY, July 2009
Each year for the past seven years, DC Velocity has selected supply chain executives as “Rainmakers” for the leadership they provide in the field. In 2009, DSC Logistics’ CEO Ann Drake was named as one of 14 leaders -- and the only woman -- from across the nation.
The Rainmakers | Thought Leaders
Our Rainmakers of the past six years had the economic winds at their collective backs. Not so our 2009 honorees. The year’s 14 Rainmakers faced economic conditions that few had seen before. Yet they never stopped innovating, persevering, and maintaining a positive outlook. These qualities never go out of style, but they shine especially bright when the world around us appears darkest.
Even as they deal with the difficult world of today, our 2009 Rainmakers remain mindful of tomorrow. All have legacies. All understand that the industry will be shaped not so much by them as by the young people who follow in their footsteps. Some have applied their talents toward the greater good, like Jock Menzies, who migrated from managing a successful family business to running a humanitarian aid organization that uses the power of the supply chain to help those in desperate need. Each Rainmaker has his or her own unique story to tell. But they share one common bond: they’ve made a lasting contribution to the profession.
As in the past, DC VELOCITY selected the 2009 Rainmakers in concert with members of the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board from candidates nominated by readers and Rainmakers from previous years. This year’s selections represent many different facets of the profession: academics, practitioners, consultants, and vendors. But as the profiles on the following pages show, their differences are eclipsed by their similarities. Whatever the talents they bring to the table, they’re united by one goal: to advance the practice of supply chain management.
Since 1994, Ann Drake has led one of the more successful third-party logistics operations in the nation, DSC Logistics. But her influence extends far beyond the bounds of her company. She is vice chair of the Business Advisory Council for Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, serves on the board of governors for the Metropolitan Planning Council, and took part in the 2007 Brookings Institution’s panel, “The Summit for American Prosperity: Washington and Metropolitan Areas Working Together,” among other recent activities.
Drake organized a panel on “The Significance of Your Supply Chain” for the annual conference of the Committee of 200, an organization of women executives. She has participated for two years in the Women Business Leaders Summit, which facilitates links between business communities in the United States and the Middle East.
Her career in logistics began when she joined the board of what was then called Dry Storage Corporation, a family-run firm, after earning her M.B.A. at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Q: Why the involvement in so many infrastructure initiatives?
A: We are used to using the infrastructure, but when asked to think about how it was working, I became interested in learning and doing more. So I’ve been slowly increasing my involvement over the last five or six years. It has been a real awakening for me about how government works or does not work. I really got excited several years ago when I was asked to be part of a Rockefeller Foundation think tank on American competitiveness through 2050. We studied several areas, including what kind of infrastructure we would need for goods and people. It’s a goal in my life to think about the future and then back into the present and decide what to do.
I’ve been involved for the last two years with the Brookings Institution on the “metropolitan nation.” We are a nation of metropolitan areas today. That’s where the growth is. That’s where the intellectual capital is. We’re rethinking infrastructure funding and planning, where state boundaries don’t have much to do with anything. Brookings has produced a great paper on transportation policy. It’s a whole new view of America and how we fit into the global marketplace—how we will live, work, get goods around, and make sure we’re green. The list is pretty daunting. Those of us who ship goods realize there has to be a flexible system and we have to put a lot of money into it.
Q: You have also been active in encouraging women to look at the supply chain for careers.
A: I encourage young women to study and major in it. I think the supply chain is the business of the 21st century— that’s how important I think it is. Supply chain executives are running companies. There’s a lot of opportunity for women.
It is true that advancement for women has been very slow. But given the importance of collaboration, leadership, and vision—all things that women are pretty good at—I think supply chain management is a great place for women, and I’m encouraged to see more and more women involved.
Q: Why do you see supply chains as so important?
A: There are plenty of opportunities to improve supply chains. Manufacturing we’ve got well honed. But the supply chain is in many ways in its infancy. There are so many ways to improve supply chain responsiveness, so much opportunity to do it better and become integrated with everything a company does. It is global in scope. It is as important as it gets. It is all about change and change management, upgrading people and processes, and collaboration.
Q: With the changes you’re describing, how will the role of companies like yours evolve?
A: More and more, what we provide is knowledge management as well as services. More of our work is at customers’ headquarters, planning for long-term challenges and how to meet them. The managing of partnerships, putting together value chains—we’ll be doing more of that.
Q: So what is the skill set needed for people entering the business?
A: We are always looking for sharp, creative people who are interested in change and doing things differently. You need a background in the disciplines, but you also have to be open-minded, change-oriented, and able to see the big picture. You need to think in new directions.
Finding those people is hard—people who are highly intelligent, flexible in their thinking, and innovative. It’s an ongoing priority for my company.
Thought Leaders | Rainmakers also featured in article:
- D. Scott Davis – 10th Chairman and CEO, UPS
- Ed Krupka – CIO and President of Information Technology, Burres Logistics
- Craig Adkins – Vice President of Services and Operations, Zappos.com
- Brian Hancock – Vice President of Supply Chain, Whirlpool Corp.
- Gordon Holder – Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
- Susumu Kitadai – President of Sony Supply Chain Solutions Americas
- John T. (Jock) Menzies III – Chairman, Terminal Corp
- James Kellso – Senior Executives, Intel Corp.
- Douglas M. Lambert – Raymond E. Mason Chair in Transportation and Logistics and Director, The Global Logistics and Supply Chain Forum in The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business
- Angel L. Mendez – Senior Vice President of Customer Value Chain Management, Cisco Systems Inc.
- Alex Miller – William B. Stokely Professor of Management and Associate Dean for Executive Education, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Greg Johnson – Senior Vice President of Distribution Operations, Mid-State Automotive Distributors
- Shekar Natarajan – Director of Supply Chain, Pepsi Bottling Co.
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