April 2017 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Valerie Young: 2020 Vision

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Valerie Young is vice president of global supply chain services and operations with 3M. She has held this position since 2016.

Responsibilities
Driving global supply chain strategy, regionalizing supply chains, leveraging disruptive technology, and harmonizing global processes for improved service, inventory position, and productivity.

Experience
Director of manufacturing and supply chain, business services director, Lean Six Sigma director, vice president of international supply chain, all with 3M.

Education
B.A., Business Administration, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minn., 1984.


I am responsible for 3M's supply chain business transformation effort. We're redefining our planning model, manufacturing systems, and logistics and distribution models. For instance, how do we more effectively receive a customer order? How do we conduct demand, supply, and production planning?

Previously, when 3M invested in a country, we went deep. We invested in sales, manufacturing, and research and development, and got a real sense of market activity. We then created products to meet that market need.

That strategy was effective for decades. But today, we're asking if we can look across countries to reduce complexity and right-size supply chains. We're doing this to better serve our markets and customers, improve service and cost efficiency, and free cash flow conversion.

One area of focus is regionalizing supply chains with Centers of Expertise (COEs) to reduce complexity and amplify operational impact. Our newest, largest, and most capable center is the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) COE in Switzerland. During its four years of operation, we've improved safety performance, quality, and efficiency with Lean Six Sigma savings of up to 85 percent.

We're also looking hard at our distribution and plant footprint. Are we set up for the future? We're still on this journey, but expect to remove $100 million of inventory from our supply chain by 2020, among other benefits, as we optimize our supply chain footprint.

To ensure a successful transformation, we focus on talent. We want to double the pipeline of our diverse talent, and give our team great development opportunities. We use Lean Six Sigma as one of our top leadership development opportunities; it's part of our DNA.

Once the team is in place, the next step is helping people through the change. We need strong leadership to articulate our vision and understand its impact. This requires training and support.

I'm passionate about mentoring not only people within 3M, but also high school students, through the Best Prep organization. We exchange emails on college choices, resume writing, interviewing, and other topics. The students challenge my thinking. It's almost like reverse mentoring.

In 2016, I received the STEP Award from the Manufacturing Institute for Women in Manufacturing. This recognizes women for leadership, inspiring young people to pursue manufacturing careers, and engaging women. To be recognized was extremely gratifying.

We all can work to provide high school students more exposure to supply chain and the value society gets from it. In 3M, we talk about how we help every company, every home, and every life. Supply chain is a big part of that.

The Big Questions

When you're not at work, what do you like to do?

Ski with my family. The grandeur of the mountains grounds me. You realize you're pretty small in the whole scheme of things.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, and director of the Equal Justice initiative. Not only did he impact individual lives, he impacted a community and the justice system. His book made me ask how I can have the same impact.

If you had $1 million to start a philanthropic effort, what would you do?

Food pantries support many in our community. However, some have an overage of food that might go in the garbage, while others don't have enough food. I'd create a stronger network for sharing food—another way supply chain can improve lives.

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