How to Improve Supplier Collaboration
Christophe Mugnier-Pollet, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Vestas, provides his best practices for improving supplier collaboration.
The Importance of Supply Chain as a Competitive Advantage
Supply chain has been recognized as a competitive advantage for companies in the last few years. Companies that understand the value of supply chain management view it not just as a cost, but as a way to gain a competitive edge. Vestas, a leader in the sustainable energy sector, has been able to develop solutions for its customers by incorporating supply chain elements into its products. Mugnier-Pollet emphasized that the wind industry, in particular, requires partnerships beyond transactional relationships with suppliers. These partnerships help to develop solutions for customers and mitigate disruptions.
"It's not just a transactional relationship with suppliers, we still do that with many suppliers. But where it really matters, we have to have partnerships in place to really go beyond orders and deliveries, and really finding solutions together with a selected few companies."
Christophe Mugnier-Pollet -
Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Vestas
Collaborating with Suppliers for a Sustainable Supply Chain
Sustainability has become a key issue for many companies, with the threat of climate change affecting their bottom lines. Vestas, as a leader in the sustainable energy industry, has made sustainability a top priority. While the company's wind turbines are by nature a sustainable product, the manufacturing process must also be green. Vestas is committed to circularity, and is looking for solutions to recycle the remaining parts of the turbine. Diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility are also important elements of Vestas' sustainability agenda.
"It's a broader agenda than basically just making products that are good for the environment.”
To ensure a stable supply chain, Vestas collaborates with suppliers to go beyond transactional relationships. The company has partnerships in product development, commercial partnerships, financing, and supply chain. These partnerships help Vestas to develop sustainable solutions for its customers and mitigate disruptions.
"It's on a narrative topic. And typically there are partnerships in product development, there could be, you know, even commercial partnerships and financing as well. But more and more, we also do partnerships in supply chain."
People, Process, and Technology
When it comes to digital transformation, Mugnier-Pollet believes that the key is to focus on people, process, and technology in that order. It's important to keep users in mind constantly through design and deployment of technologies. Supply chain technologies are designed to support people making decisions, so it's important to have users at the heart of everything done in supply chain. For companies looking at implementing new systems, it's important to recognize that technology is changing the world. Leaders must understand technology, and not just leave technology decisions to specialized teams in the organization. Leaders must master technology enough to make the right decisions and understand how to support people with the right technology.
"You just can't leave technology decisions to specialized teams in the organization. I think the leaders themselves have to master enough of technology to really be able to make the right decisions to make the right choices of technology, and also to truly understand how, again, we can support people with the right technology."
Breakthroughs in Supply Chain Technology
Mugnier-Pollet is excited about the basics of supply chain technology, such as planning and order execution. He believes that there is a lot of work to do in these areas, and that focusing on what really matters is key. In the last few years, there have been disruptive technologies such as big data that have been utilized to increase the level of visibility in the supply chain. Vestas has been able to go deeper into the supply chain from tier one, tier two, and beyond to understand what's going on and increase visibility. However, it's important to recognize that not all technologies are timely or bring value. It's important to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new technologies.
"The key being to pass the excitement basically, and really understand. Is it timely for us? Would that really bring value and making the right decisions?"
1.Supply chain management is a competitive advantage for companies and must be viewed not just as a cost, but as a way to sustain business and gain a competitive edge.
2.Partnering with suppliers beyond transactional relationships to develop sustainable solutions is key.
3.Sustainability is a top priority for companies, and circularity, diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility are important elements of a sustainability agenda.
4.Digital transformation in supply chain must focus on people, process, and technology in that order, with users at the heart of everything done in supply chain.
5.Leaders must recognize that technology is changing the world and must understand technology enough to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new systems.
6.Exciting breakthroughs in supply chain technology such as big data are being utilized to increase the level of visibility, but it's important to make the right decisions when it comes to implementing new technologies.
Hello, Christoph. How are you doing? Hello Khushal I'm doing well. How are you? I'm great.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to be part of the aim10x Knowledge interviews for our community. Just to begin, can you please introduce yourself and what you do? Sure, so my
name is Christophe Mugnier-Pollet and I'm the Head of Global Supply Chain at Vestas, the leader in sustainable energy solutions. I'm based in Copenhagen in Denmark.
I've been with Vestas for more than three years. Prior to this, I worked five years with ABB in Switzerland and then 17 years with Schneider Electric in France, China and then Singapore owning supply chain manufacturing, logistics planning and supply chain. Awesome. I think that goes well with our next question.
As someone who's worked in several countries, industries and teams, did you have a specific career plan that you envisioned with each change? Well, I would say
that when I started working, so 25 years ago, basically I think my ambition was to become a factory manager. And then I discovered the complexity and the challenges of global supply chain. So I still have a deep interest in manufacturing, but then I simply followed a different path.
I think it's good to make plans, but then take opportunities when they come and adjust the plans along the way. The other career advice, especially now with Vestas is it's also important to find a company with a meaning. So what we do, obviously we have a job, we support a company. But what the company does for a business and with the company's contribution to society, I think matters a lot in a career.
Definitely. And you know, being part of Vestas, you're probably in touch with key partners and customers to develop innovative solutions and provide the best value. How do you ensure that you're always brainstorming the best solutions for your customers and clients? I
think that supply chain, you know, can be a competitive advantage for a company, and that's something that has been recognized in the last few years.
I mean, I think it's typically when when COVID really started and then the following disruption that we say, right, that is one after the other. These days and as you know, everyone recognises the value of supply chain being not just a cost story or something that we don't want to hear about. But then first we understand that it matters if we want to sustain a company. And also, beyond that, it can be it can be a competitive advantage.
So yes, that's for sure. We can develop solutions for our customers with some supply chain elements into it, and use them to create a better set of solutions. And also want I wanted to say was that with the growth that we see in wind industry in particular, we know that it's not something that we can do alone. So when we're talking about supply chain, it's not within the four walls of a company.
It's a network of partners, that 's a supply chain. So the solutions that we develop for our customers, I mean, it's something that we do together with other companies in that industry. Definitely. And in terms of, you know, sustainability, it has always been a key issue, but it's also come to the forefront for a lot of partners, for a lot of clients.
And, you know, the threat of climate change is a real threat now. And companies are now seeing it in their bottom line. Because Vestas is a very key player in the sustainable energy industry., how does that kind of shape your view in terms of collaborating with suppliers and ensuring that stable supply chain?
Because as we've seen in the last few years, a stable supply chain is a very hard thing to maintain? Well,
yes, Yes, it does. And again, that's where we are. We're developing partnerships to go beyond more than a transactional relationship with suppliers.
We still do that with with many suppliers, but where it really matters. And then we have to have partnerships in place to really go beyond orders and deliveries and really finding solutions together with selected few companies. So again, that's for growth, but it's also for mitigating disruptions, as they explained before. Right.
So it's on an array of topics. And typically there are partnerships in product development. There could be even commercial partnerships in financing as well. But more and more, we also do partnerships in supply chain.
So we run the supply chain. We operate supply chain together. We selected the part that matters. And then also you ask about sustainability.
So obviously, I would just say it's easy for a company like Vestas because the products that we do (produce), they are by nature a sustainable product. The wind turbine that are installed around the world, they have avoided, millions of tons of CO2 emissions. But that's not enough. It's also manufacturing process to make those turbines has to be green.
It's also the circularity. So the remaining parts of the turbine that cannot yet be recycled, we're looking for solutions to be able to have a 100% circularity of the wind turbines. And also it's a people element to the sustainability. That's where we also factor in diversity, inclusion and the social responsibility of the company.
So it's a broader agenda than basically just making products that are good for the environment. Definitely. And I think that delves into also the transformation process. I read or I listened in a recent podcast that you describe your technological success journey as people process and then technology.
Can you maybe give a bit more detail of how have you seen success in this process and how has this been leveraged in your digital transformation process in the supply chain sector? I think,
again, the key is always to focus on people and the users, right? It's not about having the nicest tool, nicest reports and the most exciting technologies. But what really matters to people.
Sometimes, though, people don't know what what technology can do. So there's a bit of a interative process to look at the technologies that we can do but in keeping users in mind constantly through design and deployment of such technologies. Because at the end of the day, that's operated by people, it's here to support people making decision in ten seconds. And that's what it's all about.
Especially in supply chains for decision making. How do we make it easier, better, faster? So, you have to have the users at the heart of everything we do, right? Definitely.
And I think maybe that goes back into the fact that you also mentioned that sometimes the drawbacks that companies face is working with the same way with new technology. What's your advice for companies to ensure a smooth digital transformation journey? As you've mentioned with people process technology and keeping the people in mind? What other strategies or advice would you recommend to be able to implement a new system in the smoothest way possible?
Beyond, let's say that a people, process and technology journey. At the end of the day, we also have to recognize that technology is changing the world right. If not now, then tomorrow morning, right? So I think it's key for leaders to really understand technology.
I think it's not just good enough to have the leadership skill. I mean, first, even it's never been enough, right? You need to be a good leader, but also you need to know your trade: supply chain. You need to know what supply chain is all about if you don't have that level of expertise.
It's tough being a leader in supply chain. Leadership skills alone are not sufficient. I would say today the third element, beyond the leadership skills, it's the functional knowledge, it's technology. If leaders don't really understand or master technology well, I think that that's a serious limiting factor.
You just can't leave technology decisions to specialized teams in the organization. The leaders themselves need to master technology. Enough of technology to really be able to to make the right decisions, to make the right choices of technology and also to truly understand how, we can support people with the right technology. Definitely.
And maybe that delves into one final question. What are some breakthroughs, disruptions or technologies that you are particularly excited about in your sector or any other sector. As we have seen technology disruptions come in very frequently in the last few years? What's one or two breakthroughs that you've considered to be something that you're excited about?
I would say I'm first excited by the basics, right, because that's what basically helps in running the supply chain. So I'm talking about everything related to planning and also everything related to order execution. There's a lot to do in that space for sure. Again, keeping focus on what really matters.
That's what I would consider in the first place. But also, I mean, in the course of the last year, basically we've seen technology that were just bozz words years ago and now we start to see practical use of that when we're talking about big data, when we're talking about the ability to go deeper into our supply chain from Tier 1 and Tier 2 or beyond to understand what's going on. To to increase our level of visibility, with more disruptive technologies rather than in a simple step by step heavy mapping exercise. So there are some exciting technologies in that space.
But again, the key being to to pass the excitement basically and really understand is it timely for us. Will that really bring value and in making the right decisions. Definitely. Thank you so much for your time, Christophe.
That's all the questions from my side. I hope this discussion was as a very for you to be part of as it was for me to gain knowledge on. Thank you again for your time and I hope to stay connected. Oh, for sure.
Thanks a lot. Thank you.
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