Mathew Witte: Unraveling the Future of Supply Chain Optimization

Mathew Witte | Senior Vice President | ORTEC Americas
Mathew Witte | Senior Vice President | ORTEC Americas

In the intricate landscape of supply chain leadership, Mathew Witte stands out. With three decades of unwavering commitment to excellence, Mathew has become a guiding light of innovative thinking – transforming challenges into opportunities. His journey is not just a narrative of achievements, but a chronicle of continuous growth and impactful leadership.

Mathew embodies adaptability and resilience, traits that have fueled his remarkable career. As a Senior Vice President at ORTEC Americas, he pioneers the concept of true partnership crafting client business strategies that resonate globally. His strategic acumen shines in business development, where he guides diverse teams to unparalleled success, encompassing sales, solutions engineering, customer impact, marketing, and lead generation.

At the core of Mathew’s leadership philosophy lies a passion for nurturing the next generation of leaders. His thought leadership reverberates through industry events, where he serves as a sought-after Keynote Speaker and Advisory Board Member. His insights have graced renowned platforms like the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium and BevOps Fleet Summit, leaving audiences inspired and enlightened.

Let’s explore the tale of a leader who not only envisions groundbreaking strategies but ensures every stakeholder comprehends their role in the organization fostering a culture of unity and progress!

Could you share your journey and the experiences that led you to your current role as Senior Vice President at ORTEC Americas? How has your career path shaped your perspective on data-driven decision support?

Growing up in the supply chain industry has been a remarkable journey for me, shaped by diverse experiences and a genuine passion for teaching and innovative problem-solving. My career began at a young age in the beer/beverage distribution sector, where I held various operational and managerial positions. Witnessing firsthand the consequences of shortages, delays and data inaccuracies compelled me to seek better solutions and inspire others to do the same.

My dedication and innovative approach caught the attention of a leading final-mile delivery technology company. There, I led their global consulting team, utilizing my extensive experience to assist numerous delivery organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, in achieving unprecedented cost savings, improved service and driver satisfaction.

Driven by the desire to implement the knowledge I gained, I transitioned to a leadership role in one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. Through periods of growth and economic challenges, I found success in managing supply chains effectively.

Unexpectedly, my path led me to ORTEC, where I became both a customer and a collaborator with their brilliant minds. Jeff Bailey, ORTEC’s esteemed CEO, invited me to deliver the keynote address at their annual conference, igniting a spark within me. Inspired by their innovative spirit, I joined the organization. I embraced the opportunity to contribute to ORTEC’s growth, fostering impactful partnerships with our customers and driving the organization toward a future marked by innovation and success.

ORTEC has a rich history of leveraging data and mathematics for better decision-making. How do you see the role of mathematical modeling and optimization evolving in the context of supply chain management?

Mathematical modeling and optimization in supply chain management are more important than ever before but therein also lies the problem. The challenge lies in the lack of clarity and direction among many individuals discussing ‘modeling’ and ‘analytics.’ Frequently, people grapple with where to begin, what an effective model should entail and how to gauge its success. The confusion is exacerbated by technology vendors merely slapping an ‘AI Optimization’ label on their products, further muddling the field.

Here’s the reality—operational-level data management is crucial, but waiting for a perfect data scenario isn’t feasible. Companies that successfully integrate mathematical modeling and optimization start with strong executive leadership that champions these efforts throughout the organization. Partnering with a dependable ally well-versed in supply chain science and practice is the next step. Together, they establish a solid foundation by defining key performance metrics encompassing cost, service, safety, and capacity.

The pivotal question they ask is, ‘What if?’ This simple yet profound inquiry opens doors to innovation:

  • What if we optimize delivery routes to accommodate more stops? How would it impact our profits?
  • What if we reduce delivery failures by 10%?
  • What if we increase freight capacity on trailers by 500 lbs?
  • What if we decrease employee turnover by 10%, affecting product damage, customer service and overall payroll?

When an organization aligns from top to bottom on these ‘what if’ scenarios, the possibilities become limitless. This approach has been the cornerstone of my success and guiding ORTEC’s client partnerships with this methodology has been both gratifying and immensely enjoyable.

As a leader in the field of supply chain optimization, how do you ensure that ORTEC’s solutions effectively address the dynamic challenges that organizations face in their supply chain operations?

My professional journey has led me to a point where I find immense joy in delving into the unique challenges of diverse organizations. What many providers overlook is the distinct position each organization holds in its growth journey, even within the same industry. Understanding and capitalizing on this has been a key factor in my success as a business leader and advisor.

Recognizing these differences is vital. The term ‘optimization’ takes on various meanings depending on the specific supply chain client we serve, encompassing aspects like load building, high-density final mile solutions and workforce scheduling. Although these clients share surface-level goals such as cost reduction and improved service, achieving sustainable continuous improvement demands a profound understanding and introspection—a process that can be humbling.

Assessing critical elements like company culture, leadership dynamics, IT readiness, and employee morale is crucial in gauging readiness and identifying avenues for enhancement. ORTEC, a global leader in supply chain technology, stands out due to its proactive approach to addressing these challenges.

ORTEC pioneers digital transformation through initiatives like Digital Shapers, a change management consultancy, ensuring clients are prepared for sustainable success. Additionally, our Customer Impact Initiative fosters direct collaboration with clients, tailoring solutions to their unique metrics and challenges. This level of dedication, openness and joint ownership of client success is exceptionally rare in the industry. It’s this commitment that convinced me to join ORTEC, confident in both the technology and the organization’s unwavering support.

The concept of sustainability is becoming increasingly important in supply chain management. How does ORTEC integrate sustainability considerations into its decision-support solutions?

Sustainability was a fundamental value in ORTEC’s founding over 40 years ago and continues to be one of our guiding principles. It’s great to see it finally take hold throughout global supply chains. Obviously, successful optimization tethered to continuous improvement results in less waste, lower vehicle mileage and reduced emissions.

We’re now taking those opportunities to the next level with some of our client partners experiencing market growth, by modeling opportunities for increasing capacity without adding assets and managing service frequencies to improve route densities and tying these models directly to client corporate goals.

With your extensive experience, what do you believe are the key elements that set apart iconic leaders in the supply chain industry? How do you embody these qualities in your role?

My journey in the supply chain world has been shaped by diverse mentors and experiences, leading to four key elements of my success:

  • I Understand organizational behavior. It has been pivotal. Having been on all sides of the supply chain, I possess a unique perspective, enabling me to foresee challenges and offer proactive solutions.
  • I embrace lifelong learning. Acknowledging that no one can master every aspect of the supply chain, I remain curious, ask questions, and seek advice continuously.
  • I emphasize humility. Growth is stunted if one constantly seeks to be the smartest person in the room. Even as a leader, acknowledging others’ expertise fosters personal and organizational development.
  • I prioritize presence and empathy. As a leader, I’ve rebuilt teams and organizations, realizing the direct impact our actions have on others’ lives. Listening, transparency and recognizing our influence are crucial for effective leadership, often overlooked but essential for genuine success.

In a rapidly changing technological landscape, how do you ensure that your team at ORTEC stays at the forefront of innovation and continues to deliver cutting-edge solutions?

Two areas set ORTEC apart when it comes to staying at the forefront of innovation. The company was founded over 40 years ago by a small group of mathematics graduate students. That passion from our founders and early leaders, many of whom are still with the company, continues today through our numerous university partnerships both in Europe and North America. We have multiple members of the ORTEC team who are also on staff at various universities throughout the world, continuing to lead the next generation of mathematicians, developers, and engineers.

More recently, under my direct responsibility is the creation of our Impact team. We have brought on experienced, supply chain operators to the ORTEC team and dedicated them to each of our clients to serve as a true partner, working together to proactively solve challenges and ensure goals are met. These individuals have zero sales responsibilities and exist solely to ensure sustainable client success, frequently advising on areas outside the scope of our software.

Looking ahead, what excites you most about the future of supply chain management and the potential for data and mathematics to shape more efficient and sustainable organizations?

I’m most excited to see the growth of university programs and the graduates from those programs entering the workforce with a stronger foundation in mathematics and finance. We still have a way to go and I enjoy doing my part to improve some of those gaps, but the future is very bright.

From the operations leadership side, I’m most excited about the data. A decade ago, every supply chain leader was thinking how great they’d be if they only had ‘more data.’

Today, they’re drowning in it and many of the same organizations aren’t performing much better. But funneling through the right data, reducing the noise and setting clear, sustainable metrics and growth plans are the keys to success. And those who unlock that data will be the winners. I’ve always loved being a part of a team’s success and I see an exciting, bright future for those who take advantage of the opportunity.

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