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Views from a Young Supply Chain Professional and Recognized 'Emerging Leader'

Recognized by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals as an emerging supply chain leader, Keiko Arai talks about the supply chain leadership development program she recently completed at Bell Helicopter Textron and why she chose SCM as a career.

A member of CSCMP’s 2013 inaugural class of “emerging supply chain leaders,” Arai currently is employed as project lead in global outsourcing at Bell Helicopter. Before landing in that position, she spent two years going through the company's supply chain management training program, where she worked in varying positions at four different business units.

“During these four rotations of six months each, I learned a lot about myself and about the culture of the company,” says Arai. “It really helped me understand what kind of position I wanted to pursue in supply chain management, which includes so many areas -- operations, manufacturing, logistics, purchasing. These are all very different, so I was able to learn what I personally like and don’t like and where I want to focus my career moving forward.”

That focus is definitely on global operations, she says. “One of my rotations was in Chihuahua, Mexico, and that experience inspired me to do more on a global basis,” she says. While in Mexico, Arai worked on several different teams at a manufacturing facility in Chihuahua, she says. “After working there I knew I wanted to get more involved in the emerging manufacturing market in Mexico. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, I can extend that to Central and South America.”

Currently, she is lead on a project to outsource a third-party warehouse to service the manufacturing plant in Chihuahua. “We want someone to purchase our parts from our suppliers, warehouse and kit them and send them to our manufacturing facility with a two-hour notification,” she says. “So it’s really more like contracting a distributor to provide us a just-in-time service.”

Arai has definite opinions about what makes a good leader. “A lot of coaching” is paramount, she says. “Any leader can delegate, but the best leaders are ones who care about your development and will point out your strengths and weaknesses and help you improve.”

Young supply chain professionals also want challenges, she says. “We want to feel that our employees are willing to gamble on us,” she says. “We want them to say, ‘I will take a risk and give you this large project. You may make a few mistakes, but I will coach you through because I want you to grow and become a better individual.’

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Keywords: Supply chain, supply chain management, supply management, international trade, supply chain management scm, 3pl, global logistics, third party logistics, logistics management, warehouse management, logistics & supply chain, logistics services, supply chain jobs, supply chain services, sourcing solutions

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