Marianne McDonald: Stand and Deliver
Marianne McDonald is vice president, global transportation for Avnet, a $17.4-billion global technology distributor headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.
Responsibilities: Global transportation services, carrier selection, contracts supporting 40 warehouse locations (owned and 3PL), day-to-day global trade compliance operations, and import/export execution.
Experience: Global transportation leader, Avnet; director of global logistics for Coca Cola, Toys “R” Us, and Reebok; vice president, logistics, APL Logistics; director, import department, Limited Stores.
Education: B.S., Criminal Justice, St. John’s University, Jamaica, New York.
Avnet shipped about 99 billion units in fiscal 2017. Some were one-component, one-package shipments, and others were palletized, large-volume shipments.
Of course, transportation is a significant cost, and we have several money-saving initiatives underway. For example, we regularly review with our businesses the dollar value and percentage of shipments expedited to identify opportunities to reduce costs.
We look at the customer promise date, and work back to the date the shipments are ready to ship to choose the optimal service and cost without jeopardizing delivery. To date, we’ve recognized a 40-percent shift from expedited services to more economical services, without impacting our ability to meet customers’ delivery dates.
We’re looking at our ability to negotiate globally, and have had success pooling volumes on some international shipments. Recent negotiations resulted in six-figure savings.
We are the last group to touch a shipment before it goes out the door. We want to do everything we can to make sure each shipment leaves in the manner it should.
I attended college on a full, four-year debate scholarship. In debate, you prepare to argue both sides of an issue because you never know which side you’ll be given. That has been helpful in business.
I mentor young women, and try to put them in situations where they talk to different groups. People who aren’t comfortable speaking up can limit themselves.
After college, I was interested in pursuing law, but needed a break from school. Bloomingdale’s offered me a job in its executive program, and I was moved into the import area. I had a wonderful mentor who gave me a strong understanding of where products came from and how to get them on the sales floor.
I was with Coca Cola during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. More than 80 percent of our employees’ homes were damaged, and the rainy season was coming. Management asked how quickly I could procure tents for them.
I knew nothing about procuring tents, but went to several sporting goods companies. One immediately supplied 125 tents at cost. My airfreight contacts offered their services, also at cost, to get the tents to the region. Then several truckers moved them over treacherous terrain.
I received a picture of about 80 employees after the tents had been distributed. All wore huge smiles; they’d be able to keep their families safe.
With Avnet, I recently spent 18 months in Singapore. We’re developing a new product for our trade compliance area, and our APAC region will be the first to deploy. I spent time working with the folks there on trade compliance and import-export rules and regulations.
I had to step out of my comfort zone, but it gave me a chance to work with my colleagues in APAC. It also allowed me to let my director at headquarters step up and run the business here.
I try to stay focused on my people. I want to make sure we tap into their talent, give them opportunities for exposure and education, and let them know their contributions make a difference.
The Big Questions
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do?
The beach is my getaway. It gives me solitude, and allows me to wind down and regenerate. I will read and get lost in a book, typically with my dog sitting next to me.
If you had $1 million to start a business or a philanthropic endeavor, what would you do?
I would do something associated with children, whether from a food or an education perspective. In my travels, I’ve seen adults using children to beg for money and it breaks my heart.
If you could throw a dinner party for anybody in the world, living or from history, who would you invite?
I would have two guests: Nelson Mandela because I’m fascinated by what he endured as an individual and then what he accomplished, and Erik Weihenmayer, who went blind as a teenager, yet has climbed the summits of the seven largest mountains and kayaked the Colorado River.
Do you have a hidden talent or guilty pleasure?
A lot of people are surprised I play the piano.