Magic CarParts Ride
Responsibilities: Sourcing, including partnering with merchandising to expand product assortments; working with the inventory planning and forecasting team to execute the company’s buy plan; collaborating with CarParts.com’s logistics partners and distribution center teams to deliver goods and ensure trade compliance.
Experience: Senior director of purchasing, director of purchasing, product manager, assistant product manager, and buyer/inventory planner, all with CarParts.com.
Education: MBA, UCLA Anderson School of Management; B.A., International Relations and Affairs, National Chengchi University, Taiwan.
After I earned my bachelor’s degree in Taiwan, I met a purchasing director with CarParts.com at a social event. She asked if I wanted to join her.
My education at that point had been in international relations, with a minor in business administration. My goal had been to become a diplomat, learn more languages—I speak Mandarin, Taiwanese and English—and then explore the world.
Although I didn’t know much about auto parts or importing or exporting, the purchasing director gave me an opportunity and, along with other mentors, helped me learn. I started as an entry-level buyer working with vendors to ensure inventory was in stock.
As an immigrant from Taiwan, I’ve learned that coming from a different culture and knowing how to build relationships with business leaders from varying backgrounds is one benefit I can leverage in my role. We are a global community.
My job now is to ensure the products we offer are ones I’d put on my own car. That means visiting factories to make sure the products are legitimate and of quality.
One approach that has helped me along the way, with both internal management and vendors, is really listening to other peoples’ feedback.
As a buyer, I could take the path that the vendor or seller has to listen to me. However, I want to hear the other party’s concerns. This strategy has helped me form tight relationships with my vendors. They enjoy working together because they know their challenges are being heard. And we can work together to solve those challenges.
Plus, the relationships we’ve built have helped ensure access to inventory. Right now, inventory is king.
One of my proudest accomplishments has been working closely with the new management team at CarParts.com to transform our company, which was previously in financial distress. We really had to figure out how to turn the company in the right direction. A big part of that was trying to rebuild vendors’ trust in our new team and direction and persuading them to work with us. We’ve been able to do that and have produced nine consecutive quarters of growth.
As a female executive, balancing work and home can be challenging. I don’t have a great strategy, but once I’m home, I try to put my phone down and focus. Then once my kids are in bed, my third shift starts, when I call overseas vendors.
One attribute that’s critical in supply chain and logistics is the ability to address the curveballs thrown at you day-to-day. For instance, several years ago, I received notice that a container was dropped incorrectly, so it tilted toward the other containers on the truck, just as a storm was forecast. Once I knew about the situation, I dropped everything to quickly connect with the driver and make sure he could return to the distribution center to fix it.
One reason I enjoy the supply chain field is that there’s always something new and challenging. It never gets boring.
Sherry Liu Answers the Big Questions
1. If you could speed the development of one supply chain-disrupting technology, what would it be and why?
Especially in logistics, we try to bring visibility. Even with artificial intelligence prediction models, no one can really pinpoint when a container will be in and unloaded. If I had a magic wand, I’d bring end-to-end visibility and accuracy.
2. What are your words to live by?
A mentor shared with me the key to being the kind of leader your team wants to follow: as you progress and gain more responsibility, there will always be times you’ll make mistakes. As a leader, when things go wrong, you take responsibility. You can discuss the problem with your team members, but you’re accountable. But when things go well, it’s your team that gets the credit.
3. If you could be granted one magic power, what would it be?
I would get 48 hours into each day.