There's no question what's most fun about Erin Clancy's job. "We're producing chocolate!" she says. At the company that brings the world M&M's, and other brand chocolates, Clancy manages relationships with third-party manufacturers and co-packers. Helping to design supply chains, and making sure that partnerships yield improved results, she handles a constantly changing portfolio worth approximately $50 million.
Part of Clancy's role is to help Mars bring new products to market. One stellar example was M&M's Milk Chocolate Snack Mix, a blend of M&M's, cookies, pretzels, and nuts that Confectionery News named the #1 Innovative Product of 2012. "I was part of the product team from development through execution," Clancy says. "Seeing the product on the store shelf, and knowing how much I had to do with creating it, was the most rewarding experience I've had at Mars."
A BS from the University of Maryland in logistics, transportation, and supply chain management, plus operations and quality management, gave Clancy much of the knowledge she needed to launch her career. But only when she took a seat in Mars Chocolate's open-plan office did she absorb another crucial lesson about supply chain success—the importance of exchanging information with allies throughout the company.
"You have to form the right relationships with people from your own function and throughout the business," she says. When you keep people in the loop about your projects, there's no telling who will turn up with crucial advice at just the right moment. "Suddenly, it's the advice that will make or break your project," she says.
Clancy is a big proponent of engagement, the principle that people are most excited to come to work when they feel connected, valued, and supported. A member of the Mars Engagement Leadership Team, she was the driving force behind the annual Mars Field Day, which began in 2011. "The idea was to have the various functions compete outside the office, like field days we had in grade school," she says. Clancy won the needed buy-in from management, planned the activities, and was delighted to see co-workers compete in events such as volleyball, tug-of-war, a water sponge relay, and a 10-legged race.
Just as she drives herself to new heights of excellence at work, Clancy loves striving for the best in the competitive sport CrossFit. "I apply what I learn in the gym to my professional life, always pushing harder and setting and achieving new goals," she says. She also teaches CrossFit classes, and loves seeing her students shine. "It's extremely satisfying watching members do a movement they never thought they could do, run farther or faster than they ever thought possible, or lift more weight than they imagined they could."
HOMETOWN: Toms River, New Jersey
ALMA MATER: University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business
CURRENT POSITION: Commercial Manager, Mars Chocolate, North America, Hackettstown, New Jersey
NOMINATED BY: Cheryl DéCruz-Young, Managing Director, Diversified Search
Absolutely. Supply chain creates value every day by supporting multiple products across multiple brands.
Yes. Success in supply chain management can boost a company ahead of its competitors.