For at least the past two years, increasing awareness has brought the need for changing global supply chains method to everyone’s notice. An unbroken chain of delivery for globalized goods keeps both the producers as well as the consumers confident in prosperity.
To ensure this complex process runs smoothly, the inclusion of novel technological avenues has become a mandatory building block. Though the intelligent inputs by applied sciences in the form of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are instrumental, to receive maximum paybacks from it and to ensure a smooth process, it is necessary to give it a touch of human experiences and its visionary insights laying out a plan of action and delivering error-free.
And this is exactly what a leader driving transformation with passion does to bring to the world effective solutions.
A pragmatic inspiring figure and staunch leader is Dr. Charlotte De Brabandt, who is leading a storm of change in procurement strategies by using the best suited latest IT technology with a mission to restructure the communication strategy and data storytelling ability to effectively communicate insights from— data analysis and break it down to provide the right context that inspires action form the audience.
Let us read more to delve deeper into an inspiring story!
The Journey of a Servant Leader
Dr. de Brabandt has acquired a decade long of intensive experience in supply chain management. She’s been recognized over recent years as the Rising Supply Chain Star and received the 30 Under 30 Megawatt Award.
She is currently the Senior Manager leading procurement strategies to bring transformation by using the latest IT technology for Amazon Business and its customers. Aspiring to bring a change in the procurement segment, she has created an outreach strategy for 200,000 customers, incl. 22,500 C-Level executives on how to digitize their outsourcing systems.
Before her current position at Amazon, she was the Content Creation Manager Procurement Citizenship COE: Global Communication Lead for Johnson & Johnson. She is also a keynote speaker and a member of the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Thought Leadership Council.
How the visionary leader is working for the greater good
As of now, Dr. de Brabandt is a motivational speaker that travels all around the world to works with highly motivated individuals and helps them to thrive in this new digital world. She’s also a published author and TEDx speaker and is now gaining high recognition into the motivation realm to retain talents in the new era of leadership, helping leaders overcome talent crises. Dr. de Brabandt is a polyglot, being able to speak in 6 languages and a true cosmopolitan. She has traveled to more than 60 countries spanning across five continents, and her list continues to grow. She runs a marathon in a new city each year and does rescue diving. She most recently did an expedition in the Amazon, hiking and exploring nature in August 2022 in effort to help give back the community.
Days of Early Education and Practical Education
Dr. de Brabandt is half Swedish and half Belgian. Her childhood years of education started with a British boarding school on top of Swiss alps at Aiglon College in the French part of Switzerland, and her final years of secondary academic life were spent in the German part of Switzerland.
She has obtained her Doctorate at the University of Newcastle, UK, and Master of Science at University College London and London Business School in London, UK, in the field of Technology Entrepreneurship. Dr. Brandt states, “I grew up in Europe and lived in China and the US. I am an internationally educated, multilingual graduate with ample work experience in the procurement, business strategy, and technology world.”
Dr. Brabandt is highly successful in management, which she credits to her Management and Marketing degree. She has acquired a degree in field of engineering, her high motivation and eagerness for steep learning curves, which are erected by high academic achievements.
She further adds, “I am also constantly growing my entrepreneurialism and commercial focus, and I can demonstrate this through the experiences I have gathered from numerous business competitions, keynotes, and publications, which have equipped me with strong team player abilities and resilience in high-pressure situations. My focus has been public speaking to inspire our generations.”
Engaging to Accumulate Life Experiences
With Dr. de Brabandt’s diverse corporate experience and high flyer career development, she has now moved towards specializing in continuous learning on how to not survive instead THRIVE in this new technologically advanced world as she believes, “The future is now.”
She has been speaking globally and producing video content in the field of innovative technologies and learning how to use them, educating talents on the upcoming technologies, and creating a new powerful world by helping people increase their consciousness to enable them to use technology to its greatest advantage instead of letting technology use them.
Intrigued by the words of Bill Gates – “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
Dr. de Brabandt says, “It is all based on continuous learning. This statement has truly urged and inspired me to question – have I set myself the right goals over the next few years. Have I found my purpose in life, and am I surrounded by the right people?” Dr. de Brabandt believes in continuous learning.
Setting Goals in Charlotte’s Way
Dr. de Brabandt believes that every individual receives formal education during their academic years. However, practical and life education only happens afterward. She states, “We always feel that we can create change more quickly by impetuously acting rather than patiently climbing the ladder step by step. When these add up, we gain momentum, and that will act change in the future for us.” While sharing insights about her strategies to define goals, she quotes ‘Tony Robbins,’ who said that “Setting goals are the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
Adopting this in her life and presenting her methods of how envisioning and setting ambitions, she says, “Write down your short and long-term goals to stay focused. Continuous learning needs direction. Look at yourself in 5 years and where you want to be. Setting goals may not always happen easily; you must dig deep to find out what makes you happy. This will strengthen you and grow your self-awareness.”
Ways to Find Purpose
To give meaning to one’s goals and drive towards them with determination, it is crucial to become aware of the underlying driving factors behind them.
Dr. de Brabandt says, “To find your purpose, you need to know your goals, otherwise, you will just get lost. Finding your purpose at the beginning of your career may not always be easy. Everyone has their own pace in life to achieve their goals; therefore, don’t let anyone rush you into your decision and the next steps in life.”
Generally, individuals in corporate settings are told and given recommendations on which steps and path to take.
However, she thinks that one needs to be more flexible in our modern times as there is no one size fits all, various factors play a part in creating the right goal to achieve the necessary level of success. She remarks, “Not everyone has the same success story, received the same education, or knew what they loved, and it may take them longer to find passion and purpose.”
Example that an individual can find around them is when they look at their friends and may think that they are ahead or behind; therefore, she says, “Be patient and let the next steps unfold according to your timeline. It is more important to create your own purposeful and fulfilling lives.”
Inspiring with the Words of Passion
Dr. de Brabandt is an inspiring TEDx speaker; inspiring young talent and public speaking are her passion which she enjoys doing from her heart. She started to share her thoughts and vision for the future with the world as a motivational speaker back in Germany, she was hosting the World Culture Festival and speaking in front of thousands of people where there were 55 attendant nationalities.
In 2017 she was a part of the organizing committee and the host of the biggest TEDx event to date in Switzerland, where the panel of speakers and audience discussed about: Professions of the Future; since then, she has spoken, on average, over 80 conferences a year.
She says, “I would like to be a role model for a servant leader. By learning and taking responsibility and adding value to people’s lives. Being inspired to inspire makes me more complete.”
Apart from speaking, she is also involved in penning her ideas down, as she is involved in publishing a whole book series on negotiation with one of the most renowned publishers: Springer from Germany!
Her latest book is titled– “Negotiation in Times of Crises.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09TMX DX8B/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
With a Spark to Innovate
She initiated her career in an international procurement management program with the Volkswagen Group. During her time with the organization, which included a stint in Beijing, she led effective negotiations with suppliers that saved the organization more than 1 billion euros over the course of three years.
In 2015 she worked with Porsche Design, with her expertise and team management a procurement department was built from scratch— from developing an ERP system, establishing a new supplier portfolio, and defining and implementing 11 supply chain processes. The project required her to negotiate with suppliers across five languages.
With her previous employer, Johnson & Johnson, she gained experience in the field of capital, construction, and facilities services (CCFS) global procurement team for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, where she was tasked with a market engagement program (MEP) to find a single global service provider to assist with global energy procurement for 920 sites across three continents.
This project tested her abilities to the core; she says, “I had no precedent to reference — this tendering procedure had never been tried in this field of business — and had to coordinate a global team. An MEP usually takes up to nine months to complete, but I finished it in less than four months. The final savings equated to one free year in a three-year contract, compared to the previous supplier.”
She foresees a great capacity for the field of supply chain management to both expand and integrate. It is vital to gain an understanding on how individuals will interact with the new technologies and innovations ahead of us. She strongly believes that IoT (Internet of Things) will drastically change the future of the supply chain.
To offer more credibility to her reasoning, she has stated that Gartner predicts – by 2026, more than 50% of supply chain organizations will use machine learning (ML) to augment decision-making capability.
[The Gartner 2022 strategic supply chain predictions reflect the ways that supply chains must address current and emerging challenges and close the say/do gap for areas of growing stakeholder concern, such as sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). CSCOs can use these predictions to shape their supply chain vision for the next two to five years.]
Utilizing Technology, Enabling Advancements
The future of will be lead with intelligent cloud-based procurement platforms for mega large data processing, which will lead to a more vertically integrated analysis, better support for CPOs, and efficient sourcing strategies.
She views these digital procurement technologies as giving CPOs access to previously unavailable metrics. A recent poll from survey among various procurement leaders, 63% consider automation a first-degree priority in their digital transformation initiatives. Many of these efforts involve the use of AI-driven technologies such as machine learning and predictive analytics.
She confidently asserts, “Through my thought leadership experience, Procurement faces a wake-up call.”
She believes that the digital future for implementing globalized procurement has arrived, and now more than ever the world needs to become digital, embrace technology and see this era as a new opportunity to grow within procurement. With better understanding of technology implementation can prevent inefficient resource management, and prevent wasted capacity from being underutilized.
Ideating to Create a Difference
While scientific solutions are leveraging the industry currently, there are factors to consider that contribute to the support process of growth and transformation.
Talking about her perspective on these factors of shift, Dr. de Brabandt says, “Becoming open to change, if we talk about new technologies, retaining talent in the workforce, and changing our leadership style. It is all interlinked.”
She firmly believes in the combined power of new technologies — from big data analytics to 3D printing — that is now revolutionizing companies’ operational and administrative processes and creating innovative digital products and services all around the world.
She says, “Digital technologies will help procurement increase collaboration, analytics, and engagement using a spectrum of tools along the entire procurement value chain, from planning and sourcing to contract negotiations, order delivery, payment, and supplier management.”
Chaining to Sustainability
Sharing valuable insights on the global need to adopt sustainable solutions in all aspects of supply chain, Dr. de Brabandt believes that Risk Management and Resiliency planning, Artificial Intelligence and Automation, and Supply Chain going green is important in the long run for all stakeholders involved.
For this, she supports the growing efforts of Climate change advocacy groups as well as urge consumers, producers and suppliers to be more environmentally responsible and push the supply chain to become less harmful to the environment.
Expanding the Horizons
Dr. de Brabandt hopes to serve as a supply management role model and ambassador. She keeps a keen eye on the limitless opportunities for supply management professionals as innovative technologies continue to unfold in the near future.
Sharing about her goals for the future, she says, “I would like to stay in corporate and grow into a CPO role, to embrace servant leadership in this new era, and be able to create the most impact. I would like to guide and set an example for future generations.”
Adding on, she shares, “I reference that by 2050, 60% of global professions won’t exist anymore and will be replaced by new ones. Looking to the future, I see myself growing in the supply chain industry.”
Guiding with a Leaf from her Pages of Life
As a guide to the aspiring entrants in the field, Dr. de Brabandt pens down some key advice and inspiration for them.
She says, “Surround yourself with the right people. Are you surrounded by the right people, and are you influenced by the right people? You are the average of the people you surround yourself with. You need to spend time with people who have the same goal and also people who have achieved that goal and turned it into a routine.”
Proving, Sky is the Limit!
While gender representation for entry-level and middle-management roles is relatively balanced, the precipitous drop in women at senior-leadership levels cannot be attributed to any single event.
She opines that organizational strategies to improve the proportion of women in leadership should thus reflect the numerous obstacles that hinder women’s career progression toward leadership roles. Dr. de Brabandt cogitates that synthesizing a strategy whereby both HR and D&I leaders are involved can improve quality and inclusive methods for recruitment, selection, retention, and promotion of women in leadership.
Listing a few more pointers, she suggests, “They can do so by identifying where organization values and offerings diverge from female leaders’ preferences and expectations. They should also be auditing talent life cycle processes, including promotion and succession, to assess inclusiveness and potential bias.”
A step forward towards increasing diversity awareness in an organization, she proposes that the first initiative is to set up women employee groups, as this will create a perception of an inclusive culture, that can work in understanding female participation within the industry. Additionally, it provides a system of proven record of women’s contribution to global supply chain management.
Secondly, she highlights the importance of education. She says that the enterprise should set up diversity training, mentoring programs, and networking opportunities during or outside of work hours—for example, the Global Mentoring Program for High-Potential Women (Unilever).
Through this, Unilever leverages a combination of formal programs to prepare high-potential female leaders for the next level of their careers. In addition to an accelerated IDP program and a formal HIPO program, Unilever established a Global Mentoring Program that matches each high-potential female leader with one of Unilever’s top senior leaders. The program aims to foster successful mentoring relationships and focus on individual development goals to increase process transparency, accelerate female leaders’ development, and drive gender diversity at senior levels of the organization.
Instead of relying on mentors to define the scope for their individual role with mentees, Unilever sets expectations through a global launch event and two mentoring training webinars. To ensure successful mentoring sessions, by adopting this method Unilever provides mentors and mentees with sample activities—including goal setting, mentor guidance, and mentee reflection—that help them make the most of their time together. These activities are designed in this manner to help mentors and mentees build rapport, establish trust, and engage in successful development planning. Furthermore, the mentees can self-lead in such environments that saves time from traditional training.
As a final suggestion, she adds, “Make sure the hiring committee includes women. It’s critical to have a comprehensive strategy to attract better, retain and promote women.”
As always, Dr. Brabandt, the adaptive leader is ahead of the curve with emphasis on inclusivity, sustainability while keeping up with emerging technologies to revolutionize supply chain industry with innovation and changing global trends.