Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Derek Panchyshyn!

Derek Panchyshyn
Derek Panchyshyn
Derek Panchyshyn

At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action™” Interview series at Supply Chain Game Changer.  This interview is with Derek Panchyshyn.

I first met Derek while at Celestica.  I was in the Supply Chain organization and Derek Panchyshyn was the Executive in charge of the EMC Account.  Our interactions   spanned the full range of Customer-Supply Chain activities:  materials costing, planning, materials availability, inventory, delivery performance, and logistics.

Derek was always the consummate professional.  What struck me most about Derek was that he was both a tireless champion for his Customer and he was also extremely well balanced in terms of understanding the internal business objectives.  No matter what was going on Derek led effectively and he was always calm, cool and collected,  which was reflected in the high regard and respect given him by his customer and his peers.

It is great to see Derek Panchyshyn bring his extensive experience and leadership skills to ATX Networks.

Thank you Derek  for your friendship, your support of Supply Chain Game Changer, and taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with us.

Here is our interview with a tremendous leader, Derek Panchyshyn!

Tell our readers a little about your background and experience?

I would call myself an accidental supply chain executive! Like many of your readers I suspect we started out in something else before finding ourselves in supply chain careers.

In my case I graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree in 1990 and started my career with IBM Manufacturing in Toronto, doing test engineering.  After a couple of years I got into cost engineering where I was exposed to the financial side of the business, then program management where I interacted with customers who at that time were other downstream sites of IBM that needed our sub assembly products to integrate into complete systems.

It was here where I first really started to appreciate that it was the materials, or lack thereof that we talked about the most.

I didn’t know it at the time but spending that time with planners and buyers around the world was my first foray into supply chain. After IBM Toronto became Celestica and we started the hyper-growth phase during the late 90’s tech boom, I really credit my growth and knowledge of supply chain to some of the customers I was responsible for at the time, particularly EMC Corporation.

I learned a lot from them over many years; first chasing parts and capacity, then dealing with the contraction after Y2K and migration to lower cost countries in the early 2000’s, the expansion into the BRIC countries, the integration of information from customer to supplier to sub-tier supplier and so on. They were tough but fair and were disciplined in how they measured and managed supplier performance.

When we had issues (and we had some big ones!) EMC always viewed it as “we” have issues to address and correct, not “you” have issues. There were many other experiences and things I learned from other customers too but I worked with EMC the longest and took away more best practices from them that I still use myself today with our suppliers and supply chain at ATX Networks.

What are some of your greatest achievements in Business?

I feel working through the “tech wreck” after Y2K was one of the biggest for me. Again this involved EMC but under my leadership (and working with a great team) we transitioned all of their business with Celestica at the time from North America and Europe to Asia; costs got better, availability got better, and quality got better.

It was a massive undertaking for them and us because at  the time none of us had experience working in Asia, their distribution model was all North America-centric and they had no supply chain employees themselves anywhere but in the US and Ireland.

Working and communicating through different time zones and dealing with logistics to/from the other side of the world was a challenge we overcame, and after many years this is all just so normal now. The great thing about this too was meeting and working with a lot of talented people all over the world. I learned so much and made a lot of life-long friendships too.

More recently at ATX Networks, I am proud of sourcing and developing new suppliers that have helped us grow into new markets, help capture tactical or long term opportunities, and reduce cost and risk for the company. Within my first few months here, my relationships with suppliers and my ability to develop them quickly came into need as we had a massive project to deliver in Vietnam that had strict financial terms tied to perfect order performance. It was a heck of a ramp but we did it!

The value of supply chain and how it can help a company compete and sustain itself was a little under-appreciated before, but not now. There is a keen appreciation among the Executive team on how supply chain performance affects current and future sales, cash flow, cost and overall business viability. I am pleased that supply chain stands up with core functions such as sales or product development as an equally important part of our company’s success.

How has the Business and Supply Chain changed over the course of your career?

Well I have been in business for almost 30 years now so I guess that qualifies me to be able to answer this question! There was no such thing as supply chain in my consciousness early in my career – I was only vaguely aware of functions such as planning, production control, procurement, shipping and receiving.

As I mentioned above, it was really ‘baptism by fire’ learning how to communicate and commit deliveries across all these separate functions that introduced me to what supply chain meant. Back then it was more verbal whereas now it might be more machine to machine and software tools.

Whether it was within the four walls of one facility or connecting suppliers across the globe, in many respects this is what it still boils down to – it is still providing communications, visibility and commitment to delivery that drives supply chain today.

What are some of the lessons you learned in your career that you would like to share for others to learn from?

Some of the greatest lessons come from being able to laugh about the situation. I’m not sure who ever said these first but we still say them today, “when in trouble, order double”, “when in doubt, push it out” and “don’t get sassy if you don’t have capacity”.

All kidding aside one of the key lessons I’ve learned is you and your team will always get through a tough situation. There are always going to be breakdowns in communication, un-forecasted demand, missed pick-ups, quality problems, unforeseen disruptions due to strikes, floods, volcano’s, whatever. Supply chain management is daily problem solving, connecting the dots, grinding through the variability and predicting the outcome.

As tough as it is, you will get through it. Measure what is important, manage performance and then let people do their jobs.

What challenges facing the world are important to you?

Top of mind now is the global tariff situation. It is disruptive and unpredictable. Countries are reacting and the global supply chain will eventually adjust by passing on tariffs or finding a way to avoid them, but then another ruling could disrupt those plans again.

The other very big challenge is the ‘super cycle’ of electronic component demand. Smart phones, automobiles, wearables, IoT devices, data centers, cryptocurrency…and many other non-traditional electronic devices are driving huge demand that didn’t even exist only a few years ago. Parts we never considered to be that important like resistors or ceramic capacitors are incredibly difficult to get right now.

It is hard to predict what the next couple of years will bring and what the impact will be for all users of electronic components but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

What is the role of Business, Supply Chain and Change Leadership in addressing these challenges?

It is key for all business leaders to give Supply Chain a voice at the table.

These are real issues that can impact business in a significant way whether it is unplanned costs or impacting revenue and profit because you can’t get parts to make product. You have to pay attention to the global political situation now, not just supply and demand of raw materials or components or your customer’s forecast.

Like I said above, supply chain is about daily problem solving so accept the unpredictability and then communicate and collaborate to solve those problems.

What are you working on these days?

Other than those challenges above which are on-going, the key thing I am working on is integrating and optimizing the ATX Networks supply chain and operations.

ATX Networks made a couple key acquisitions in late 2016 and the work to optimize our global footprint, reduce cost and inventory, consolidate suppliers and build a global supply chain measurement and management system is a multi-year job.

We have a lot of work streams on the go across our sites and product pillars but we’re making progress. I’m lucky to have some great talent across our business and among our key suppliers to help get it done.

What advice would you give people who have a career in, or who are considering joining, Business and/or Supply Chain?

Whether you join Supply Chain on purpose or by ‘accident’ like me I would recommend it. It is such an important part of any company today and those that do supply chain well are leaders in their industries. Look at Amazon – that is customer-centric company with a supply chain core competency.

There is so much to learn in many functions of supply chain, whether it is IT tools, planning and buying, commodities, global supplier management, logistics, warehousing. Every day is about communicating, collaborating, organizing, problem solving, cost and environmental management. These are skills that are so applicable to many jobs today.

You will never stop learning in Supply Chain!

How can people contact Derek Panchyshyn?

Derek Panchyshyn can be reached as follows:

LinkedIn is best. You’ll find me there!

Originally published on August 28, 2018.