Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Drew Morgan !

Drew Morgan

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 Drew Morgan, Director, Global Supply Chain and Procurement at ModusLink.

When I joined ModusLink I dived into the deep end to learn as much about everything that was going on, as quickly as possible. One of the areas which stood out for me early on as needing improvement was the Inventory Management performance.

For a company that held itself out as being a global Supply Chain leader I was underwhelmed when I saw that their inventory turnover was around 6 turns. Turnover had been at that level for a long time and it was forecasted to remain at that level for the foreseeable future. To my mind any self-respecting Supply Chain company should have double digit turnover.

I called together the 3 Supply Chain leaders in the company for a 2 day summit to get me immersed in the current reality, and to lay out a mutually agreeable gameplan for the future. That is when I met Drew Morgan.

As we did a deep dive on Inventory management a few things were clear to me. First was that we were performing at a level that was far below industry benchmark and leadership levels. Second, the guys were extremely knowledgeable, talented and amenable to change. Third, it was obvious that they had received no guidance or mentorship from my predecessor, who apparently knew very little about Supply Chain or Operations.

Drew struck me as having phenomenal potential. With attention, focus, mentoring and leadership I knew that we could construct and implement a strategy to turn around our Inventory performance.

The net effect was that in 9 months we were able to DOUBLE the inventory turnover performance of the company. Drew not only rose to the challenge but he stepped into the global leadership role and the well deserved promotion which resulted from his achievements. This story is captured in our Ebook, Inventory Management Beyond the Mystery.

Here is our interview with a great friend, and a great leader, Drew Morgan.

1. Tell our readers a little about your background and experience.

I am a 22 year veteran of Supply Chain Management. I have worked for ModusLink my entire professional life. Having started in data entry I have gained experience through various different roles to become the Global Director Supply Chain Planning and Procurement.

Working for ModusLink I have had the fortune of experiencing a broad range of supply chains working with incredible professionals, suppliers and customers.

2. What are some of your greatest achievements in Business?

My greatest achievement to date was the reduction of Inventory in ModusLink’s global supply chain. I managed more than doubling of Inventory turns from 6 to greater than 13 turns whilst maintaining over 98% on-time availability of material, reducing Inventory write-off’s to <10% of their previous value. This returned much needed capital to the business which allowed for corporate investment in operational improvement initiatives.

Through my tenure with ModusLink I have lived and worked in various locations worldwide leading supply chain transformations in each location. Most notably, I was tasked with leading a team to rescue an ERP transition which had failed. Part of the solution was to redesign the planning system and material flow through the factory whilst at the same time managing the day-to-day demands of one of our largest clients.

The team I led managed to get in front of the issues and drive to resolution within a very short period of time helping to rescue the relationship with the client.

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

Business has changed dramatically over the course of my career. Data integration and eCommerce has driven immediacy of demand.

When I first entered supply chain manufacturing was still focused on economy of scale i.e. large batches which would then be pushed out into the market. Just-In-Time meant supply purely to the factory. Physical product was pushed out to large distributors which then sold to the end-consumer.

Over time we are seeing a more just-in-time driven demand. The consumer is now directly connected to the factory/distributor through on-line ordering. This allows for reduction in overall supply chain inventory and touches which in turn can be passed on in pricing but brings it’s own challenges with smaller batches, greater SKU proliferation, increased package shipments and fulfilment complexity.

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

Always set an uncomfortable target. It is only when you challenge yourself and your team to deliver what seems impossible that you will drive real change.

Challenge all the parameters, assumptions and received wisdom you have when addressing a problem. There is always some waste built into the status quo. When you challenge these you will find the levers you can pull to affect change.

5. What challenges facing the world are important to you?

Climate change and the drive to greener supply chains. 

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

Business has to act responsibly when it comes to the environment. Efficiency and the drive to sustainability go hand-in-hand. Reducing raw material usage, using less energy all make a leaner supply chain. Which in turn reaps benefits in both monetary and ecological cost.

7. What are you working on these days?

I am working on numerous activities with our client base in the areas of sustainable packaging and supply chain improvement. My largest area of focus though is on an Operational Excellence program.

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

Embrace the ever-changing nature of supply chain. Change is where you get to use problem solving skills and ultimately achieve wins. Supply chain management can be challenging but everything worth doing ultimately is. 

9. How can people contact you?

I can be contacted at [email protected].

Interview with Drew Morgan originally published on February 22, 2022.