William D. Petway: The Supply Chain Expert Revolutionizing the Industry

William D. Petway | VP Executive Global Process Owner | ADM
William Petway | VP Executive Global Process Owner | ADM

In an ever-evolving world of business, few sectors have witnessed as much transformation and growth as the supply chain and logistics industry. The supply chain industry includes every step involved in getting a finished product or service to the customer, including manufacturing or sourcing raw materials, producing and packaging, and transporting the finished products to a distributor, retailer or customer where they may be purchased or consumed. Today, many supply chains are global in scale, and effective supply chain management results in high quality, better customer service, lower costs, and improved resilience.

Among the pioneers leading the charge of change is William D. Petway, a seasoned business leader with a passion for driving excellence and innovation. As the Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Executive Global Process Owner at ADM, a prominent global corporation, Petway has leveraged his extensive expertise to shape the future of supply chain management.

This narrative business profile delves into Petway’s remarkable journey as a business leader, his impact on the market, the values that have guided him, and his vision for the future of supply chain and logistics. With a proven track record of driving success, he has gained recognition as a trailblazer in the field.

Let us dive into how Petway continues to push boundaries, inspire innovation, and empower the next generation of supply chain professionals!

Journey of Learning and Leadership

William Petway’s remarkable journey as a business leader, his invaluable contributions to the supply chain and logistics industry, and his visionary approach to future challenges have positioned him as a trailblazer in his field. Petway’s journey as a business leader began with a strong foundation of education, ethics and integrity, which were modelled by his parents, an educator and an automobile factory team member.

Petway says, “My journey as a business leader began with foundational lessons gleaned by watching and mirroring leaders in my church, schools, community and home.” His educational journey at the renowned Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry (SBI) equipped him with invaluable lessons and insights across professional and academic landscapes.

Throughout his career, Petway has held Director and Vice President positions in esteemed organizations such as ACH Foods, Kraft/Heinz, CTI Foods, Monogram Foods, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). He has led diverse teams, from individual contributors to large cross-functional project teams, gaining a wealth of experience and overcoming various challenges.

Keys to his success include:

  • Always maintaining a “learners’ mindset”

The commitment to learn from others is the key that unlocks the potential of every experience and relationship. It is always advisable to make an investment in learning, before forming/advancing your perspective. There is always something to learn in the nuance and uniqueness of each company, role, customer and project. Engaging with the organization by leveraging the design, knowledge and experience of team members and stakeholders, builds credibility, expands your network, enables adaptability, and increases the ability to influence.

  • Investing in others

Investing in team members, mentees, and colleagues is critical to organizational growth and enhancement of the employee value proposition (EVP). Prioritizing and making the time to teach, coach, collaborate, and/or listen is equivalent to sowing seeds guaranteed to bear fruit. Never underestimate the impact that encouraging words, constructive feedback, sharing tools and tactics, extending opportunities, and having courageous conversations can have on a person (professionally and personally), and the organization(s) and colleagues they support.

  • Satisfying the business ask/need while advancing your career

Actively manage your career by promoting the mutual value/benefit of advancing to your next/stretch opportunity. Resist the urge/ask to invest your skills in near to mid-term turnarounds. It is mutually beneficial if you can teach, coach, and mentor emerging leaders while expanding your capabilities, perspective, and impact.

Values and Work Culture: The Pillars of Success and Organizational Agility

Throughout his career, Petway has identified key elements critical to the success of any organization. These values and work culture elements include:

  • Do the right things for the right reasons: Make ethical, legal, and moral decisions, at all times, and at every level of the organization.
  • Establish a learning culture: People are the key to unlocking passion, results, and innovation. Team members enter with a base knowledge that the organization has a moral obligation to leverage and build upon that knowledge.
  • Implement scalable/repeatable processes and systems: While strong processes and systems create stability and support team member success, we also need space to challenge these processes and systems to drive growth and experimentation.
  • Leverage functional expertise + collaboration: Break down functional silos while retaining functional depth and enabling elasticity across the organization. When faced with highly complex and integrated challenges and/or transformations, functional depth, range and accountability is often the key to unlocking new and innovative solutions.
  • Iterate, Adapt, Change, and Innovate: Although small adjustments have the power to create significant change within an organization/industry, correctly assessing the ability, willingness, and tolerance for change enables a company to mitigate the risk of “change fatigue.”

Impactful Work: Merging Theory and Practice

Petway’s expertise in supply chain and business transformation has left an indelible mark on some of the most prominent companies globally. His ability to effectively combine supply chain theory, practical application, and systems/process-leading practices has led to stable, scalable, and flexible infrastructures that have enabled end-to-end process transformations and leveraging technologies like AI-enabled network optimization.

Leveraging Innovation for Resourceful Solutions

Petway acknowledges the critical role technology plays in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. The continued acceleration in technology makes it almost impossible to stay current. Now, more than ever, industry innovation is enabled by vendors/partners, exploring innovations and technologies introduced by solicitors, conference engagement, and partnering with global technology. These partners often have advanced development teams that are looking for a “test case” to apply advance technology.

He also adds, “The key to leveraging technology begins and ends with clarity of purpose, benefit, and readiness. Very few organizations want, need, and/or are ready for the latest and greatest in technology. The tool should always be ‘fit for purpose’.”

Vision for Change

Petway seeks to elevate the understanding and value of supply chain planning and execution within the industry. His goal is shifting the functions’ brand from “transactional enabler” to “value generator.”

Petway says, “Finance, Marketing, Procurement/Purchasing, Operations, and Sales have well-established brands across industries and internal customers: I would like to elevate the understanding of the capabilities, role, and value of Supply Chain (strategy, planning, analysis, and execution) professionals. In its’ truest sense, we add value to our internal and external stakeholders by ensuring safety, quality, service, cost, and resilience. Additionally, we manage cash and enable flawless execution while counterbalancing the risks, threats, and volatility across internal and external supply chains.”

Preparing for Industry Changes

According to Petway, technological advancements are transforming the Supply chain and Logistics industry. He talks about fundamental shifts as one category and Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration as an emerging category.

Fundamental Shifts

Petway predicts the current economic climate, fast-changing consumer habits, and new competitive landscape (i.e., trendy direct-to-consumer brands), will force a return to supply chain foundations. Customers and consumers increasingly demand greater visibility, predictability, resilience, and agility.

Petway believes that education/skill development, supply-demand balancing, capacity evaluations, vendor negotiations, complimentary KPIs/metrics, intuitive visual charts, actionable recommendations, and effective Integrated Business Planning (IBP) processes will be an enabler and differentiator. He warns, however, that a large investment in advanced technologies (e.g., demand sensing, predictive insights, AI enabled optimization, etc.) will not guarantee better results.

“With technology, data and possibilities swirling like a tornado, organizations with Supply Chains grounded in the fundamentals will win.”

AI Integration

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often envisioned as a “replacer,” Petway advocates for a balanced approach. AI tools can complement formal and informal inputs, human judgment, and strategies employed by various functions.

Petway says, “Although AI technology will transform our suite of tools, it should not be deployed indiscriminately. I do, however, believe that cross functional AI enabled collaboration will revolutionize functions across organizations and industries.”

By piloting AI technologies and identifying breakthrough use cases, Petway is preparing for that “watershed moment.”

Empowering the Next Generation

Petway will return to his origins by developing an educational model and platform to empower professionals at various stages of their careers. Petway noted, “I will return to my roots. The investment that my family and community made to give me exposure, learning, and insight will be ‘paid forward’ to future generations.”

He envisions sharing the knowledge, experience and insights gained throughout his career to help shape and nurture future generations of supply chain leaders.

Light the Path of Innovation

Drawing from his three decades of experience across multiple companies, products, and industries, Petway offers advice to budding entrepreneurs in the supply chain and logistics industry. He emphasizes three points:

Petway says, “First, remain true to your God, yourself, and your family.”

Second, “Commit to the learning process. You can and should learn from everybody. More perspective/experience results in more insight, increased capability, fewer missteps, and better results.”

Third, “The ‘what’ of the supply chain does not and will not change. 100 percent of the evolution potential is in the ‘how.’ When you think you should change the ‘how,’ do not hesitate. The spark of innovation only ignites and burns if you fuel it with your knowledge, skill and will. Do not hesitate to let your light shine brightly.”

Organization as a Whole

Globally headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, ADM operates across six continents, and is a global leader in human and animal nutrition, serving as the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company. ADM’s breadth, depth, insights, facilities, and logistical expertise provides unparalleled capabilities to meet the needs for food, beverages, health, wellness and more. Sustainability is a key focus for ADM, and the company strives to make a positive impact on the environment, communities, and its employees. By implementing sustainable practices throughout its supply chain, ADM is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, conserving natural resources, and supporting local communities.