Seasoned Leadership in Action™! An Interview with Michael Massetti, VP at Gartner!

Michael Massetti
Michael Massetti
       Michael Massetti, Gartner

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 Michael Massetti, Vice President for General Managers – High Tech, at Gartner.

I first met Michael when he was at Lucent.  He was my customer and we had a difficult problem that we were working to resolve.  This problem required my team and I to travel to Lucent to have a working meeting with Michael Massetti and his team.  In what could have otherwise been a very stressful and difficult situation Michael’s leadership style was that of a consummate professional.  And his team was a complete reflection of him.

You couldn’t help but he impressed with Michael Massetti.  And I am happy to have known him ever since as his career has flourished!

Michael contributed an article for us on  7 Essential Attributes of Strategic Supplier Partnerships!  The article was extremely insightful and proved to be phenomenally popular.  

Thank you Michael for your friendship and taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with us.

Here is our interview with a genuine Industry leader, Michael Massetti:

Tell our readers a little about your background and experience?

I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. All of my grandparents emigrated from Europe in the 1900s before starting their families here. I’m the oldest of 3 children. I went to the University of Notre Dame for my BSEE degree and the University of Vermont for my MSEE and MBA degrees. I live in Tampa, FL, USA with my wife. I have 2 daughters, my wife has a son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. And, I’m a lifelong NY Yankees fan.

By January during 8th grade, several of my classmates and I had finished the self-paced algebra course. The school had nothing else for us to do so they directed us to a teletype-style computer and suggested we learn how to program. Coupled with my dad’s occupation as an electrician, I began to believe I should be an electrical engineer.

I ventured into the world of semiconductors with IBM for 18 years after graduating with my BSEE. I was fortunate to make a number of moves that broadened my experience and expanded my horizons with Dell for 4 years, Lucent Technologies for 5 years, and AMD for 5 as well. The early part of my career was in the product engineering and development, test and characterization, field applications, and program management.

The biggest career transformation for me was after leaving Dell when I joined Lucent in 2002 and entered supply chain in technology sourcing. This was my first foray into the world of supply. I have not looked back since!

What are some of your greatest achievements in the Supply Chain and in Business?

The first huge project I was part of at Dell was our transformation from paper documents in the computer boxes for businesses to what we called E-Docs for electronic documentation. Our customers did not need hundreds of copies. We restructured all of the documents and created one of the first service-oriented websites so all of the information was available on line. It saved us over $30M in the first year alone.

I feel so fortunate because I joined a phenomenal organization at Lucent run by Jose Mejia and Joe Carson. We dug that company out of terrible financial difficulty after the “internet bubble” burst in 2001. We achieved recognition both internally and externally for our sourcing and procurement accomplishments in the spend management area.

My tenure at AMD was amazing. Our team was recognized for our unique configure-to-order process for our microprocessors as a finalist in the Supply Chain Council’s Operational Excellence award in 2011. The team reduced finished-goods inventory by 50% and reduced the assembly and test line production variances by 50% in 9 months. Unfortunately, we lost to your alma mater at Celestica and took runner up.

Our close relationship with the supply chain program at the University of Texas netted us the inaugural Sponsor of the Year in 2012. The trophy looked great outside my office!

Finally, on the personal front, the Global Supply Chain Leadership Group selected me as their Supply Chain Executive of the Year in 2011. It was surreal to consider that when I started my career I had no thoughts of winding up in this field and now an external group was honoring me. As it worked out, I had colleagues from 4 of my companies at the recognition event. It was fun!

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

When I first started at IBM the term supply chain did not exist. It was not until later in the 1980s that the loose federation between planning, purchasing, manufacturing, and logistics started coming together as an end-to-end entity called supply chain. The evolution of buying & expediting, which was so common early on, to strategic sourcing and supplier relationship management was a significant transformation through the 1990s and beyond.

Looking at it holistically, the concept of an end-to-end, integrated capability augmented by significant expansion of digital capabilities and information is amazing. Just think about it, we are discussing touchless orders, lights-out warehouses, autonomous transportation for delivery, and prescriptive actions taken by intelligent robots. It feels like the science fiction stories of my youth are now my adult reality. Remember Dick Tracy’s watch that he talked to and got information from?  Yes, that exists today.

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

For me it’s about taking the ride that will become your career. To believe that after college you will make a career choice and spend the next 40 years of your life doing just that is unfathomable to me now. When I have the opportunities to speak with college students I tell them that, in reverse, my career journey looks well-scripted and clearly landed me where I am today. In reality, a few abrupt moves and getting laid off in 2001 by Dell drove a sharp left-hand turn in my career in 2002 that evolved to where I am today.

My message is for young professionals to keep their options open and value diversity in opportunities. The more they can do to broaden their skillsets, whether in various supply chain functions or even on the dark side of product development, marketing, or other key business areas, the more valuable they will be to potential employers. I would not be where I am if I did not take a number of different assignments at IBM or the move to Dell or the abrupt move with Lucent!

What challenges facing the world are important to you?

I have to go back to 1987 for this one. I was in a bookstore, back when there were bookstores, and found two books that changed my life forever. They were simple books with related messages: The 50 Things You Can Do to Save the Earth and The 50 Ways You Can Recycle. I began recycling long before there was roadside pickup. I had a compost pile in the back that fed my amazing vegetable garden. It just felt good and right to do.

Today, we call it sustainability and corporate social responsibility. I see these areas as critical for all of us. When it first started gaining momentum in the 1990s everyone was trying to justify the efforts. Today, the bottom-line value of using less water, less incoming materials, reduced packaging, less electricity, and producing less waste has clear bottom-line benefits.

In fact, with the latest generation we now have a group of people in the workforce that grew up conserving and they expect their employers to respect this in their business models.

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

Supply chain is at ground zero when it comes to driving sustainability further. We should all look forward to the impact of the circular economy efforts on business. The less of a footprint we can leave on the planet while we are here the better!

Blackrock’s CEO, Larry Fink, wrote a letter for his company and those that he invests in that focuses on “Purpose” … a much broader view of businesses’ contribution to the world than their bottom-line financials.

Supply chain professionals can impact this greatly through all the conversation efforts noted earlier and reaching out to their constituents to help ensure positive outcomes for employees, shareholders, and the people and regions they work in. Everyone benefits. There really is no downside to success here.

What are you working on these days?

My role at Gartner makes me responsible to advise and coach senior supply chain executives who buy our “Chief Supply Chain Officer” service. In this role, I help them maximize the value they get from their engagement with us. I cover all the major industry categories from food to high tech to industrial manufacturing and healthcare.

What amazes me most is how similar the challenges and opportunities they all have are. It’s exciting to solve a consumer goods need with something that worked for a chemical company. S&OP, sourcing maturity, logistics and network optimization, organizational development, and change management are very common areas for our clients.

Of course, most of it rolls up into the broader category of digitalization of the supply chain. The capabilities presented by artificial intelligence, IoT, automation, robotics, and other areas of digitization are fascinating. It’s quite a challenge for companies to figure out where to start and what to focus on first. That’s where we come in.

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

Enjoy the journey. Supply chain is both deep and broad. Explore. Be curious. Look up and down the chain to see what goes on before and after you … the most effective supply chains are the ones that are highly integrated and collaborative! Try to never get stuck in your functional silo.

Lastly, stay relevant. I read multiple magazines and supply chain blogs to keep current. Technology is moving at a phenomenal speed. What you use in the first 10 years of your career will change dramatically by the time you retire. My first PC had 64K of memory and a 256K HDD. My new iPhone X is over 1000X more powerful with 256GB in it!

How can people contact Michael Massetti?

Please encourage them to follow or connect with me on LinkedIn. Like you, I’m a frequent poster of supply chain, leadership, sustainability, and other content.

My current fun thing is my weekly Friday supply chain comic. They usually generate a lot of action and comments.

Thank you Michael Massetti!

Originally published on February 20, 2018.
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