VP Strategy, Supply Chain, VF Corporation
If you think about the full scope of supply chain and all the steps it takes to bring a product to market, we plan, create, make, move, and sell to consumers. COVID has impacted every single one of those steps in some way. It's been a perfect storm of disruption across the supply chain.
By Betsy Verecky
With 13 different brands in its portfolio, VF Corp.’s vast supply chain was greatly affected by COVID-19, and it was up to Hope Waldron T’08 to help ensure it continued to deliver for consumers across the globe amid massive disruption. Waldron took her position in supply chain strategy with the retailer behind well-known brands Timberland, Vans, and The North Face just before the pandemic set in but says she was prepared, thanks to Tuck’s focus on general management.
“When I moved from brand strategy to my current role at VF Corp., I had no supply chain experience, but the fact that I was able to make that move is a testament to the breadth of the knowledge I gained at Tuck,” she says. “I think in the past, supply chain has been seen as a somewhat staid and tactical, back-office activity, but it’s a dynamic and highly strategic area that’s had to make dramatic changes to adapt to changing consumer shopping behaviors and expectations.”
VF Corp., like many other retailers, is juggling a dramatic rise in online orders alongside COVID-driven lockdowns and business disruptions in countries that are key to its supply chain, logistics challenges that are extending lead-times to move goods around the globe, labor challenges in distribution centers, and capacity issues in last mile delivery that are making it difficult to get packages to shoppers on time.
“Every step along the supply chain has been impacted,” Waldron says. “It’s been quite dramatic.”
When VF Corp. had to reduce staff in distribution centers because of COVID safety protocols, the company introduced lifelike robots that could roll down aisles, pick up items and bring them to employees who packaged them. Doing so has allowed the company to fulfill more orders and process them faster.
In addition, the company is digitizing its brands’ product creation processes so that teams can collaborate virtually and avoid shipping physical samples of products back and forth between countries. Digitizing these capabilities takes a lot of time and cost out of the process and is part of the company’s overall digital transformation that COVID has accelerated.
“There’s been a lot of focus on the supply chain, much more than ever in recent history,” Waldron says. “Coming out of Tuck, I wouldn’t have thought to go directly to supply chain, but there is a lot of opportunity here, tons of action, investment, and innovation that’s driving real change across the industry. It’s been an incredibly exciting place to be.”
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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