"I've never turned down a challenge, at work or in my personal life," says Jennifer Wolff. That's one reason she relishes her job as supply chain strategy manager at Masco Cabinetry. It's a project-based role, so she never knows what new adventure she'll embark on next. "My boss has come to me with some off-the-wall requests, and I've embraced them," she says.
Embraced and aced, one might add. Consider the time Wolff took charge of closing down a Masco plant that made cabinet components. She had to identify which Masco or third-party facilities should take over which portions of that plant's output, then complete the transition by a firm deadline.
During the move, Wolff couldn't let any components go out of stock or excess inventory pile up. "That required detailed follow-up and many visits to the receiving plants," she says "The key to finding the right balance was to move things slowly. That let us fine-tune processes at the receiving plants, and home in on quality."
The results were terrific. "Because she was willing to work outside her comfort zone, and could drive change in a difficult environment, Jennifer brought extraordinary value to our company," says Wolff's boss and nominator Joe Ceccoli.
Wolff learned about supply chain management through a management development program at Chrysler. Her first rotation put her at a Chrylser Sebring plant, where she supervised union drivers who delivered materials to the production line.
"That program was a game changer for me," Wolff says. "It taught me a lot about leadership." Managing people who aren't required to cooperate with you takes creativity, she says. She also learned firsthand how crucial it is to think about the needs of production workers when designing a supply chain process. "It's easy to make decisions that look good on paper without considering the impact those decisions will make on the people who receive the deliveries or work with the materials," she says. Anyone headed for a supply chain career in manufacturing should try to work on the production floor as early as possible, Wolff advises.
"Jennifer has a strong passion for helping others to succeed," notes Ceccoli. That's why she started a supply chain internship program from the ground up at Masco, and why she continues to recruit and mentor students for that program.
With a new baby at home, Wolff and her husband are embracing a whole new set of challenges. They also continue to work on their 100-year-old house. "We're doing what we can to preserve its original beauty while making it functional for a modern family," she says. When she needs to unwind, she goes for a long run. "We have some beautiful parks in Ann Arbor," she says. "I like to get lost in them."
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
ALMA MATER: Miami University
CURRENT POSITION: Supply Chain Strategy Manager, Masco Cabinetry, Ann Arbor, Michigan
NOMINATED BY: Joe Ceccoli, Managing Director, Supply Chain, Masco Cabinetry
Absolutely. Not only do I have a direct impact on the bottom line, but changes in the supply chain affect business operations.
Yes. I’ve grown especially fond of the purchasing function, and enjoy being a professional negotiator.