We know that our strength comes from our people. To help our employees thrive, we invest in company programs that create inclusive and diverse employment possibilities, regardless of their field of study or area of expertise.
The Supply Chain Leadership Program (SCLP) is an award-winning development program for high-potential early to mid-career candidates. Twice a year, our Global Procurement and Supply Chain organization selects candidates to join our mission of solving complex real-world problems, while guided by senior executives and global supply chain leaders.
To learn what #LifeAtFlex looks like when enrolled in a Flex development program, we interviewed Melissa Ottenbreit, who just finished her first year in the SCLP. Upon graduating from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution, Melissa started her career as a Warehouse Operations Manager. Thriving in a fast-paced world, she changed her expertise from managing local distribution centers to an international supply chain and operations environment.
How would you describe the SCLP program and its structure?
At its core, the Supply Chain Leadership Program (SCLP) is a rotational leadership program. It allows future leaders with diverse backgrounds the opportunity to experience multiple types of roles within our supply chain organization and the different industries we support.
The SCLP is a two-year program comprised of 4 six-month projects, each in a different focus area, such as commodity management, supply chain management, etc. Each member then “graduates” into a full-time position, having experienced the entire business and finding their best fit.
What convinced you to make the switch from warehouse operations to supply chain?
While working in operations, I also worked alongside supply chain professionals who supported my sites and others. I was drawn to their ability to look at the larger picture of the business and complete projects on a broader geographical scale - while still managing the day-to-day challenges at the site level.
- Melissa Ottenbreit, Supply Chain Manager
Why should one join the program?
SCLP is an excellent way to experience all aspects of the supply chain at Flex, while immersing yourself in a global work environment. The projects we complete have executive level exposure and are chosen based on business need, so all impacts are significant and immediate. Members of SCLP are held to high expectations, and each cohort delivers exceptional results.
For me, the SCLP program had everything I was looking for in my next career move. My biggest surprise was learning how many opportunities there are to directly impact the business, both through assigned projects and additional side projects that become available along the way.
What does the ideal candidate look like?
The ideal candidate for SCLP comes from a background of impressive experience, whether in one industry or multiple, with positions of significant impact and responsibility. The projects we’re given are owned by us, so we must hold ourselves accountable to ensure we deliver results and solutions. An ideal candidate needs to be prepared to collaborate with groups throughout the organization and communicate the importance of their goals.
While a master’s degree in a relevant field is preferred, the program is open to any candidate with an impressive history and a strong desire to work in the EMS supply chain field.
Can you tell us about successful projects from the program that were adopted in the organization?
The amazing thing about SCLP is that projects are never completed then stored on a shelf to be forgotten. All projects either develop an immediate impact or provide a framework for how work is to be completed moving forward. For example, I recently completed a project focused on implementing supplier inventory programs. I was able to transition 70% of the site’s suppliers in a way that allows Flex to improve overall supply chain flexibility for the end customer. Because this business makes up a massive part of our organization, the impact was global and had a meaningful effect beyond just my site.
What advice would you give to a new candidate who is just starting in the supply chain world?
I personally made the jump from working on the warehouse floor to the corporate supply chain, and it was absolutely an adjustment. While an adjustment, I had no idea how much I didn’t know walking into the world of the EMS supply chain. After a year with Flex and two projects completed, I’m still learning about our segments of business daily. The best advice I can give is to dive deep into whatever project you’re given and become the subject matter expert for that topic. You will build relationships and gain experience in areas that will carry you into future projects with a fresh perspective on driving change and improvement.
The Supply Chain Leadership Program provides extensive training and hands-on experience, enabling any member to reach another level in their career. Once the selection process is completed, you are assigned a mentor who provides guidance in navigating the culture at Flex while making the most of your experience.