#123: Michael Corbo, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Colgate-Palmolive

Mike Corbo became Chief Supply Chain Officer in 2011, the culmination of a lifelong Colgate career building our best-in-class capabilities across the globe. 

Previously he served from 2005 to 2011 as Vice President, Global Oral Care Supply Chain. Mike joined Colgate after graduating from Lafayette College in 1982 and worked in myriad roles across the U.S. In 1995, Mike moved to the Philippines as Director of Manufacturing Operations before becoming General Manager, Portfolio Simplification, Asia Pacific, in Malaysia. 

Mike has transformed our Supply Chain into an externally recognized global leader in productivity, resilience and sustainability.

Listen to the full discussion here:

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Connect with the Guest:

Michael Corbo: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Mike’s 40 years career with Colgate (and 18 different roles)
  • What are some focus areas in the supply chain (and the “factory in a box” concept his team has come up with)
  • How to collaborate more for Sustainable SCM
  • True Zero to Waste initiative by Colgate-Palmolive
  • People and building teams
  • Secret sauce of long term career success

Show notes:

  • [0:58] How did you start and how did you stay so long in Colgate? What keeps you going everyday?
  • [1:29] It was a terrific start, I learned a lot. That’s one of the things along the way, I stayed here for my entire career and it’s been going on for 40 years now. It was never boring here and if you look at the 40 years, I’ve had almost 18 different jobs. So Colgate and my personality were really a good match and it’s been a terrific time here.
  • [2:53] How did you end up in the supply chain specifically? And how did you get the passion going all the way to the Chief Supply Chain Officer?
  • [3:08] One of the things that happened that got me more into different parts of the supply chain is when it was announced that the facility I started in was being shut down. So as people left, I had got to do everything and that really helped me learn quickly and be able to apply that as I moved on into other roles.
  • [4:14] In terms of Colgate supply chain, in terms of where you are today, and in terms of maybe the key focus areas for you in the next 12 to 24 months, what are some of the things that would come first top of mind?
  • [6:25] What are some innovations or case studies and practical examples of new solutions and new things that you’ve developed across the supply chain?
  • [8:53] It took six months from kickoff for the project teams to pull it off from zero to hero, how do you manage to achieve that speed and that agility in practice and get it implemented? Are there certain secret sauces of success?
  • [9:15] I think it goes back to the time when we empowered people to do it. We got some of our equipment manufacturers with us. We made the scope very clear about what it was and what it wasn’t. So that it made it easier for people to focus on what they were doing and get it delivered. 
  • [11:20] What are your thoughts around collaboration, how to build partnerships and ecosystems to better speed up our sustainability goals?
  • [13:35] What kind of energy power is this factory in a box and what is its environmental impact?
  • [15:30] We are partnering with the true zero waste, we have a program to get all our factories certified to have true zero waste to landfill. And it’s certified by an outside agency and the same thing with energy and those factories have become much more efficient while we’re doing that. So it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the right business thing to do.
  • [16:48] What are some of the things that perhaps you’ve put in place at Colgate? How do you best take care of your teams and the people that keep this going and keep the machine moving?
  • [16:56] One thing that has helped a lot, and it also shows that maybe something we should have been doing before the crisis is communicating much more. I’m sending videos to people on the ground, thanking them, encouraging them, showing the gratitude that they come to work every day for us. 
  • [20:02] Is there certain career advice that you can say that helped you get to where you are? If somebody is now entering the workforce and you were to give some advice as a mentor, what would that be? 
  • [20:16] I think it’s important that people are open to doing different things. Be very open to learning. So new opportunities, new challenges, new locations, new geographies, especially as you’re starting out your career, those learning experiences stay with you for a long time. The more diverse opportunities you take early in your career, the more powerful your career trajectory becomes.
  • [21:30] Are there certain experiences that you can really point back to that inspired you in one way, shape or form?
  • [21:42] I was given the opportunity to work on the design, to build, and then the first plant manager on a new plant that produces just flavor and fragrances for Colgate. And getting that opportunity, it turned out to be just a spectacular part of my whole development and learning how to work with people, how to make design and people mesh to get the most out of people.
  • [23:52] How can we further elevate both the profession, the function, as well as the representation at C-level, board level, the future CEOs to come from the supply chain?
  • [24:01] I think now people like myself need to stand up and represent what we do at the board level at the CEOs office. It might be that we never stepped up and said it, so there’s responsibility on both sides here to to put forward the importance of the supply chain to any business function. Sometimes you have to take a seat at the table, not just be invited.

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