#120: Xiuling Guo, Managing Director of Cargill

#120: Xiuling Guo, Managing Director of Cargill Featured Image

Xiuling Guo is the Managing Director Asia for the edible oil business of Cargill. Xiuling has held a multitude of other roles around strategy, sourcing, S&OP, and lean manufacturing. Before Cargill, she was a Supply Chain Director with Yum! Brands Group in China.

Cargill is one of the largest global food corporations, some of their major businesses include trading, purchasing, and distribution of grain and other agricultural commodities. They are also the largest privately held corporation by revenue in the States with over 166,000 employees in 66 countries.

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Connect with the Guest:

Xiuling Guo: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How to make the switch from supply chain to full PnL
  • What are key areas of focus as a leader (E2E supply chain matters!)
  • Why Xiuling thinks planning is key as a function (even if accurate forecasting is impossible)
  • Understanding the WHY is much more important than the WHAT or the HOW
  • Best career advice and inflection points

Show notes:

  • [01:32] A lot of people in the supply chain want to make the shift that you managed to do with Cargill. You are now in a full PnL position managing a business, maybe tell us how was that for you. How did you manage to make that shift in your career?
  • [02:46] The ultimate question is, why is it important to you and how you’re going to contribute- what fundamental capability must you have regardless of whether you run a supply chain or you run a PnL. 
  • [03:17] Coming from that world of supply chain strategy then to a PnL. What did you have to change?
  • [05:11] I always believe that we must put people in the center of everything. Regardless of whether you manage your supply chain or your business. We are managing a significant amount of resources in the organization, so we must align the vision and also engage every employee to understand why you do everything you do.
  • [06:48] When you look back at your 20 to 30-year career, were there certain inflection points when you had some AHA moments?
  • [08:07] I always focus on everything that is needed. I need to understand the total picture of the “why” before I do the what and the how. 
  • [10:00] How do you manage all these unknowns, like the COVID-19 pandemic and port strikes, and still manage your business well?
  • [12:33] When two organizations from both supply chain sides are talking to each other, we can develop more in terms of how we are going to empower and enable continuous productions, and ensure that the other end is serving their customer during a very critical time. 
  • [14:22] When you are moving around commodities, it can play an incredible part in transportation costs, which have gone through the roof three to five times depending on the tradeline. How are you currently managing that?
  • [15:57] Transportation and global network optimization have been a very key focus of Cargill when we walk around the world. During this period of time, we were also able to engage with some external vendors who can provide more real-time data information to help us make decisions faster and better. 
  • [17:25] You said that you managed to leverage your network to help your clients, do you have one or two examples there?
  • [19:02] How likely is your network,  your resourcing, and manufacturing will change? What is likely to change for you specifically in the next 12 to 24 months?
  • [21:43] We have made quite a big investment into my cargo.com to create a very customized interface for our customers, to allow them to access their information that is tailored to their needs and help their life to be more efficient.
  • [23:11] How are you as a whole, as a company at Cargill addressing sustainability?
  • [23:56] We have a very comprehensive program developed to deliver our commitment in terms of what we want to achieve by 2050. So there is a very clear set of ambitions for us to ensure that we at Cargill will be the most sustainable and responsible company in all the agriculture space.
  • [25:31] You’re putting in quite a lot of effort both in learning and also coaching and mentoring others, tell us a little bit about that.
  • [26:37] The best way to learn is by coaching others. The first thing is I can continue to internalize all the knowledge and share my learnings with the organization, so we can bring the whole organization faster.
  • [28:30] I still think there are things that don’t know. So I make sure that I always devote my time in a year no matter how busy I am, 10 to 15% of the time to learn things that I don’t know, read books, or attend a course.
  • [28:45] What was one of the most useful pieces of advice that you received from one of your mentors or bosses or coaches, what was the most useful in your career?
  • [29:22] What really applied to me was to stay as a humble leader and also be curious and try to understand other people’s perspectives. It will make you better, then you can be a better leader and therefore you can create more impact on the organization, no matter what role you are in could be professional or non-professional.

Related Episodes:

#117: Susana Elvira, VP, Global Head of Human Resources – Ocean and Logistics at A.P. Moller – Maersk

#118: How Supply Chains Run the World – and Finding People to Run Them | Careers on the Move

#119: Francesca Gamboni, SVP Global Supply Chain At Stellantis

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