Fabrice Thomas Vice President Global Supply Chain of Agilent
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Fabrice has been working for more than 20 years in supply chain, from Railways at Alstom, to Industrial Robots at ABB across Europe, America, and Asia ; at Agilent Fabrice is in charge of Procurement and Logistics, a team of +1000 people with sites located in the US, Danemark, Germany, China, Malaysia and Singapore
Agilent is an American public research, development and manufacturing company established in 1999 as a spin-off from Hewlett-Packard. It provides analytical instruments, software, services and consumables for the entire laboratory workflow. Agilent focuses its products and services on six markets: food, environmental and forensics, pharmaceutical, diagnostics, chemical and energy, and research
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Some of the highlights from the podcast:
- Handling supply chain in a high complexity and low volume environment like Agilent
- How to sell an automation project to the business to balance cost vs ROI
- Engaging people to embrace transformation – how Agilent does it
- How people, tools, and culture helps in achieving maximum results.
- The most difficult talent to find in supply chain
- Life-long learning
- [01:36] Tell us a little about your career story. How did you transition from three big companies?
- [07:52] It was a challenge for Agilent to hire me as their Vice President because usually they only promote internally and given that I was the first French guy to get that position in an American company who is based in Singapore with a strong Singaporean mindset.
- [09:11] What are some of the biggest challenges from a supply chain perspective when it comes to the type of products Agilent delivers?
- [10:37] Our products are extremely complex, so the level of quality expected from the supplier is very high as well. We need a product that stands for many years, so the spare parts have to be available for 10, 15, or even 20 years and the speed of replacement should be very low.
- [12:48] What are some of the key initiatives that you’re trying to drive in Agilent?
- [15:39] All the people in Agilent have a part to play in the game and we are 4,500 in operation covering all manufacturing and supply chain.
- [16:58] Engage the people by giving them a little bit of flavor of that transformation. Make them understand and feel that they are the actors of their future and they don’t have to wait and fear the big things to happen like being replaced by robots because they handle their future and they make the change for the company.
- [17:44] How do you manage and lead people on the journey? How do you get them on the journey?
- [19:11] When we speak about digital transformation, this is not only about technology but it’s also about the business.
- [23:15] Can you give us an example of a concrete pragmatic project that is fairly successful and where you can already see a result?
- [26:22] The mistake we did most probably is that we are too ambitious at the beginning. We were presenting the application for several warehouses at the same time and we realized that it was a lot of money and there is no company that can invest so much money at the same time.
- [28:21] If you want to bring the supply chain to a value chain from a creative competitive advantage moving simplistically saying from a cost center to a profit center, somehow it’s the capability of the management team in supply chain to transform that supply chain.
- [29:40] How do you combine people, tools, and culture to achieve maximum results?
- [30:00] I think the first thing is that you have to share a vision and this vision has to be pragmatic and bold to be understood by everybody.
- [34:36] What are some of the most difficult skills to get to push your supply chain team globally forward increasingly in the future?
- [35:00] The most difficult talent to find is the people around digital science, digital analysts because when people are doing that job they don’t think about coming to work for supply chain.
- [36:29] People who have competency in transformation is very hard to find as well because this is not something that you learn or master in a university.
- [38:01] What keeps you up at night in terms of what you personally feel you need to continuously learn, develop, and acquire to stay on top of your game?
- [40:11] You need to keep the excitement of discovering yourself with your team. My job is to be sure that we aggregate the right people around the table. So keeping that humidity and keeping the curiosity of what is happening in different industries.
- [41:32] What would be a piece of career advice you can share with our listeners that helped you a lot in your career?
- [41:50] I believe in long-life learning. We have to be conscious that what we learn at the beginning when were 20 evolves so fast, that just expecting learning in a narrow environment is clearly limiting our space to acquire and extend our knowledge.
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