Greg Maxwell

Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Northrop Grumman

90 percent of our suppliers are domestic, but 90 percent of the world's semiconductors come out of four Southeast Asia countries—Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia. So even if we're getting products from our suppliers, most microelectronics come from complex tiered supply chains out of Asia. This complexity makes visibility into our supply chain tiers difficult and the potential impact down the road uncertain.

By Betsy Vereckey

Even before the pandemic, Northrop Grumman faced disruptions in its supply chain, primarily due to supply/demand imbalances in microelectronics, which are small electronic components like semi-conductors that are the building blocks of nearly every aspect of the modern world.

“We were already dealing with extended lead times when COVID hit, and that just made things worse,” says Greg Maxwell T’95, who is responsible for managing the supply chain for one of Northrop Grumman’s four businesses. “We’re starting to see price increases due to raw material shortages now percolating through our tiered supply chain.”

In addition, the company is closely managing cybersecurity risks in its supply chain as the probability and impact has grown across all industries recently, due to increased instances of ransomware and identify theft, not exactly easy when you have 3,800 suppliers, but essential given the national security aspects of the aerospace and defense industry.

“Cybersecurity risk management is another major focus right now, and it isn’t easy to manage in a complex supply chain, but you have to be diligent because you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Maxwell says. “If a supplier’s intellectual property is stolen and held for ransom, or your small supplier can't make payroll due to bank fraud, then it could shut down your manufacturing and affect deliveries to your customer. One of the things I’ve learned over my career is that you need to get out in front of the risks. You’re always going to have supply problems, but the more proactive you can be in identifying the risks and managing them, the better off you’ll be.”

Northrop Grumman is also looking at how to cultivate diversity, equity and inclusion in its supply chain, and to that end, regularly provides scholarships to small businesses to participate in Tuck’s Diversity Business Programs. “We looked at what we could do to help our diverse suppliers and realized that we could expand the number of scholarships we offer annually to this excellent Tuck program,” he says.

After spending eight years in the military, Maxwell says Tuck’s general management curriculum gave him the foundation in business he needed, and he still relies on what he learned in his business strategy, communications, and negotiations courses. “Those soft skills courses really stay with you because they’re timeless.”

This alumni profile first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Tuck Today as a part of “The Great Supply Chain Disruption.”

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