Senior Supply Chain Planner
What did you want to be when you were at school and what did you study?
I have always been interested in business and foreign languages. I studied Italian and French, and European Marketing – all of which comes in useful working in Planning for a global manufacturing company. It was either that or be a PE instructor!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Planning plays a vital role in the manufacturing process. From receipt of a customer order through to product being shipped out the door, supply chain planning is key to being able to meet our customer requirements. It ensures the timely availability of raw materials and bought in parts and the availability of machine capacity and human resources to manufacture and assemble the product, so we can achieve on time, in full delivery of customer orders. Stock control is also an important part of the role, ensuring that there is a balance between holding adequate stock and not being in a position of holding excess stock that costs the business money.
I love that planning is a varied, fast-moving environment involving the use of my analytical skills. As it is linked into all operational parts of the manufacturing process, my role also provides me the opportunity to work closely with colleagues at all levels of the company.
What do you do on a typical day?
I analyse forecasts for product orders from key customers and liaise with colleagues to plan the forecast demand for them.
We are a global company and have another production facility in Thailand. I spend much of my day sharing information with my colleagues in BNL Thailand regarding any planning/production, resolving issues and making improvements on efficiency and delivery time where possible and planning them in around other production.
I also deal with our key customers and suppliers directly, updating them on the status of their orders, tracking our orders, and responding to queries and requests for changes in timing as this has an impact upon the planning we do as a team. The goal is to get all the components in at the right time, manufactured efficiently and out the door to reach the customer within the time frame they need.
Planning in a complex manufacturing company such as BNL requires analytical and problem solving skills, attention to detail, communication skills, and the ability to juggle many tasks at the same time, to prioritise your work and to respond quickly and calmly to ever changing situations.
What is your best or most enjoyable moment in your career?
My most enjoyable experience was starting in planning after moving from a background in international customer services. There are elements that easily transfer, but planning is more numbers based and analytical, it is like constantly building and re-building a jigsaw puzzle where the pattern on the pieces changes every day. Moving into a working environment that was completely alien to me and realising that not only would I swim, not sink, but that I could learn a lot of new skills that would then give me the opportunity to progress, was a challenge I relished.
Who inspires you?
How do you think we can encourage women into STEM/Engineering/Manufacturing careers?
We need to encourage women from all walks of life into STEM and Manufacturing careers. Companies can work alongside schools to raise awareness of STEM and Manufacturing careers so that girls and young women consider these career opportunities. However, we also need to promote the possibility of career changes which may involve a total change in direction for a woman from the career path she originally chose or envisaged for herself.
Examples of women from all backgrounds who have been successful in these fields, at all levels – not just the perceived highest achievers – will encourage more women into the industry in general.
Any advice for young women, or anyone, wanting to start a STEM/Engineering/Manufacturing career?
Contact potential employers in your field of interest and circulate your CV to potential employers and relevant agencies. If you see a job advertised that you like the look of but have doubts that you have the relevant qualifications – go for it! When I applied for my job with BNL the job spec specified that a knowledge of Japanese and experience of working in an engineering environment would both be useful. I had neither and I am still here 15 years later!