#45: Paul Graham Chief Supply Chain Officer of Woolworths Group

#45: Paul Graham Chief Supply Chain Officer of Woolworths Group

Paul Graham Chief Supply Chain Officer of Woolworths Group

Paul Harry Graham serves as Chief Supply Chain Officer at Woolworths Group, the largest supermarket chain in Australia. Prior to this, Paul was Global Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa for DHL Supply Chain.

Paul has also been a board member of one of Australia’s largest wholesale and grower produce companies La Manna Group, Executive Chairman of a large multibillion-dollar marketing services business Williams Lea-Tag and has served on various government and university-linked advisory boards. He also has served on various government and university advisory boards and was awarded the Public Service Medal by the government of Singapore for services to the logistics industry.

Connect with the Guest:

Paul Graham: Linkedin | Company Website

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Data movement is actually more important than the physical movement of goods.
  • “Collaboration is going to be a key part of any future strategy, particularly around supply chain.”
  • Dealing with climate change through a sustainability agenda – the first company to remove plastic bags in Australia.
  • The Supply chain strategy of Woolworths to counter the competition from e-Commerce players.
  • “One of the challenges that we’re going to have in supply chain is the hunt for talent – intricate skill sets around technology automation, planning, and predictive analytics are going to be a challenging.”
  • “I think it is a great thing to be constantly curious and be constantly challenged. It makes you want to do better.”

Episode #45: Paul Graham Chief Supply Chain Officer of Woolworths Group

Show notes:

  • [01:00] The story of Paul Graham- how he ended up in Supply Chain and Logistics.
  • [02:33] How did you end up working in all these continents- Europe, Asia, and Australia?
  • [04:29] What would be the most important “nuggets”- from a project, process, or type of people perspective that you took from the 3PL side to the client side?
  • [05:29] It is important that we don’t just think in a structured way- like this is retail, therefore I’ll apply a retail solution to this when actually there are different solutions that can be used.
  • [07:31] What is the supply chain strategy of Woolworths to counter the competition from e-Commerce players?
  • [8:46] Customers now has less tolerance when it comes to failure. They look at the quality of service and if their expectations are not met they have a significant choice to take their business elsewhere.
  • [11:37] How do you set yourself apart from the other retailers?
  • [13:11] For us, it is about the culture and the experience that the customer has when they come into the store or shop online.
  • [14:52] How do you see in general, the role of technology in terms of transforming and helping you with your supply chain operations?
  • [15:16] I think that the movement of data is actually more important than the physical movement of goods.
  • [17:01] We are in the age of big data. The challenge we have is that we have many stakeholders involved, so we need to develop applications and build APIs to make the collaboration easier.
  • [18:39] Can you tell us one example of a technology innovation that was implemented in Woolworths over the last one or two years, that made a big difference for you and why did it make a big difference?
  • [20:14] In terms of technology competencies do you prefer to build it in house or cities? Is it a case by case type of a scenario?
  • [20:36] A lot of companies in the past would have their own infrastructure built in house. But because of cloud-based computing, all industries now have moved away from it.
  • [23:48] Collaboration is going to be a key part of any future strategy, particularly around supply chain.
  • [25:37] In terms of automation there’s a big challenge around blue-collar workers and not having the workforce operate warehouses. Overall, how do you see the next couple of years unfold when it comes to this?
  • [27:11] Automation is focused on addressing many areas and like all technologies, it is moving at a rapid pace. And I think we’ll continue to see substantial growth in automation inside the warehouses.
  • [29:32] There are products that don’t fit any of these categories, so disclosing their general merchandise, how do you plan to maximize it in terms of your supply chain operations?
  • [31:37] Nothing is constant anymore, right now it is more about reacting to the customer demand and expect that it will continue to change every single day.
  • [34:09] What type of sustainability strategy will you or you have already implemented in your supply chain to try to address climate change?
  • [34:40] We were the first company to remove plastic bags in Australia. So we see ourselves very much wanting to establish best practice when it comes to climate change.
  • [37:05] How do you select and make sure that your suppliers are the ones appropriate to help you in customer experience is a great one? What are some of the key things to take into consideration when you’re selecting A versus B?
  • [37:26] We all like to have a relationship with the people who share the same values that we have. And I think it starts with looking at suppliers who’ve got the same commitment and values around customers- giving them a fantastic experience.
  • [39:18] For the next 5 to 10 years, what would you see as some of the key challenges in supply chains globally?
  • [41:05] One of the challenges that we’re going to have in supply chain is the hunt for talent.
  • [42:06] I think the hunt for talent and continuing to develop core operational skillsets and intricate skill sets around technology automation, planning, and predictive analytics is going to be a challenge.
  • [43:13] When you’re recruiting for talent, what’s the hardest type of skills to get – hard and soft skills?
  • [43:52] It is a challenging time to look for talent because you’re looking at these new skill sets around big data analytics, automation, and integrating partnerships and collaboration.
  • [45:20] In the freight forwarding business, you’re like an artist. You may get a blank canvas today. You paint that canvas as best you can but then you have to sell it for as much as you can get and if it goes away you have to start again from scratch.
  • [46:27] What is the best piece of advice you have received that has been most helpful to you?
  • [47:26] I think it is a great thing to be constantly curious and be constantly challenged. It makes you want to do better.

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