Marc Nijkamp has been a freelance supply chain professional since 2009 when, following a 19-year career with various multinationals, he decided to start his own business. Over the years he has worked on a number of assignments for customers of Involvation, so we decided to ask him to tell us more about the role of an interim supply chain professional.
What do you enjoy most about working freelance as an interim supply chain professional?
What I love most is how varied the work is. That diversity allows me to use my knowledge and experience in different ways every time. With the right expertise and a bit of luck, you’re able to work together with the customer to implement a number of improvements in a short space of time. Equally importantly, each new assignment gives me personally the chance to tackle something new. So in essence, what I enjoy most is learning and (continuously) improving together.
How does your ideal assignment look?
My ideal assignment is a challenge I can get my teeth into, with lots of freedom, a dedicated team and sufficient time to achieve visible results for Supply Chain in the broadest sense. It should last long enough for me to hear the people say “We’ve learnt something, we’ve made tremendous progress and we can do it ourselves now!” And it should ideally be in the manufacturing industry. I prefer working for a commercial company that makes something tangible rather than in the service sector, for example.
What was your most recent assignment, and how did it go?
I’ve recently spent four months working as a Supply Chain Manager in Hamburg at an FMCG company. I was responsible for demand planning and OTC for the German-speaking countries and Eastern Europe. I had two people reporting into me, each with a team of their own. One was German and the other was Polish, and they were both very different people. I learnt a lot, and it was also very interesting to get experience in the various countries. The organization was still in the build-up phase, so I couldn’t implement improvements at my normal pace. In situations like that, I focus on leaving something behind that will enable them to carry on. I noticed two things in particular: there was a strong focus on the short term, and the quality and output of meetings was disappointing. In the meetings with my own team, I was able to show them what I expect of a good meeting. We discussed potential improvements to the S&OP process in a workshop with the Operations Director and all the European planners. In that context the most important thing was awareness: by being more proactive and placing more emphasis on the longer term (tactical horizon), we from Supply Chain will become a better sparring partner for Sales and Marketing. It’s not rocket science, but it’s an essential step for that company.
What do you regard as the benefits of being part of Involvation’s interim supply chain network?
There are three things I really value about Involvation: the personal click with the partners and consultants, the extensive in-depth knowledge about supply chain management and – last but not least – the network of terrific customers.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your work as an interim manager?
That’s a good question; I think I’ve mentioned most of what l wanted to say. But if any readers are struggling to tackle a challenge, I’m happy to hear from them – and I can be reached through Involvation, of course!