December 2007 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Bethany Adamonis: Ready for the Real World

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When Bethany Adamonis headed for her co-op job last January, she didn't know a great deal about supply chain management, her college major.

Up to that point, she'd taken only one course on the subject, an introductory class that was so theoretical she couldn't see how the principles she learned would play out in the real world.

"But at the co-op job, I saw these concepts applied every day," says Adamonis, now a senior at Penn State University's Smeal College of Business. "That's when I knew I was pursuing the right career."

A native of State College, Pa., and daughter of two Penn State graduates, Adamonis picked her major on her mother's recommendation. As a student, Adamonis' mother had considered majoring in business logistics. But her own mother talked her out of it, insisting that logistics was a man's field.

One generation later, Mom gave her daughter a different message: supply chain is a perfect field for a woman with an analytical mind. "She said, 'I think you'd be very good at it,'" Adamonis recalls.

The co-op assignment proved Mom right. From January through July this year, Adamonis worked as a customer demand and replenishment planner for Unilever in Clinton, Conn.

Much of the time, she used IBM's continuous replenishment program to track shipments of Unilever Home and Personal Care (HPC) items out of four Kroger warehouses.

Based on that information, she forecast demand for the next week, then planned shipments to those warehouses. "I would set delivery dates for loading the trucks," she says.

Because the software didn't understand the context of the activity it tracked, Adamonis had to make her own judgments. For example, some warehouses pulled no product at all on Monday or Tuesday, but then pulled heavily on Wednesday.

"The tool doesn't know that," Adamonis says. "So if it sees zero units pulled on Monday and zero on Tuesday, it will give me a forecast of zero. But then, if the warehouse pulls 50 units on Wednesday, the software provides a forecast of 350 units, when I know that will not happen. You have to apply common sense and previous knowledge."

She also had to account for seasonal demand and special promotions.

During their term at Unilever, Adamonis and her fellow Penn State co-op workers lived through one of the more exhausting realities of corporate life: a major information systems overhaul. Unilever was merging two separate SAP systems used in its foods and HPC divisions into one. That project created a lot of extra work.

"All our warehouses were shut the first week of July, and everyone had to work the weekend before and the weekend after the Fourth of July," Adamonis says. "Before the system shut down, we had to build up all the inventory. We couldn't ship any product out of our warehouses for almost two weeks."

Based on her co-op experience, Adamonis is certain she wants a career in supply chain management, and she'd like to explore demand planning further. Now, as a first-semester senior, she's taking one class on sourcing and another that closely examines the entire supply chain.

She's also looking ahead to the prospect of working in a field that has captured her imagination. "Supply chain management provides endless opportunities," Adamonis says.

The Big Questions

What do you do when you're not at work?

I work at a restaurant a few nights a week. I've held several positions in my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and every spring I get involved in the Penn State Dance Marathon, which raises money for children with cancer. I spend a lot of time with my three younger siblings and three stepbrothers. Also, I run outside until it gets too cold; then I go to the gym.

Ideal dinner companion?

Princess Diana. Besides being stunning and an extraordinary woman, I think she's a good role model.

What's in that oversized bag you carry everywhere?

My cell phone, iPod, hand sanitizer, Tide pen, gum, water bottle, planner, hand lotion, and wallet.

If you weren't headed for a career in supply chain management, what would be your dream job?

I would like to be a wedding planner. My mom worked in hotel and restaurant management, so I grew up watching her throw elaborate parties. I think it would be great fun.

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