Interview with Marcy Alstott, Vice President of LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions Operations at Hewlett-Packard

Marcy Alstott Marcy Alstott is an Operations and Supply Chain executive with diverse product and technology expertise, multinational management credentials and extensive transformation know-how. She is currently the VP of Operations for the LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions business unit at Hewlett-Packard. This global $13B business is on a rapid growth trajectory that calls for exceptional supply chain flexibility and competitiveness.

Marcy is known as an excellent cross-functional, multi-level communicator which is the basis for her consistent leadership success. Formerly, Marcy was Vice President of Operations at Sun Microsystems, a provider of mission critical computer systems. She had operations responsibility for Sun's high end server line and consistently delivered to cost, quality and delivery goals. In this role, Marcy had responsibility for Manufacturing Engineering, Supply Management, Supply Execution, Planning, New Product Program Management and Quality. Prior to Sun Marcy led the Operations team at Adept Technology, a factory automation company producing precision vision and motion sensing robotics systems. At Adept, she was the General Manager for their nascent semiconductor wafer handling business unit overseeing growth to 5% of the company's revenue within a year.

Passionate about launching high tech products into the market, Marcy moved through positions of increasing responsibilities at Hewlett-Packard, Chipcom and 3Com. Her varied positions included Fabrication Shop Manager, Process Engineering Manager and Director of Manufacturing Engineering.

Marcy graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a co-op program education at General Motors. She went on to Stanford University for an MSME with a design concentration and then added an MBA from Santa Clara University. Marcy is a frequent speaker at professional venues, and a participant on University Advisory Boards. Marcy and her husband Ted live in California's Bay Area.

How important is supply chain management to Hewlett-Packard's overall business strategy?

HP has the largest IT supply chain in the world. We, along with our partners, manufacture in every region of the world, and then we deliver those products all over the world. With this scale and scope, our supply chain has become a competitive differentiator for the company as a whole.

What primary areas of focus (or key initiatives) should Hewlett-Packard be looking at for Supply Chain Management?

In HP's supply chain, we are focusing on four main areas.

HP is 'Big for a Reason.' We're leveraging our scale to make HP technology more accessible and more affordable for our customers.

We're also focusing on innovation. While our engineers and product developers come out with new and inventive products, our supply chain also has a history of being a thought and process leader. We will continue be creative and resourceful in order to develop processes to better serve our customers.

Our third area of focus is sustainability. With the IT industry's largest and most complex global supply chains, HP has a responsibility to lead in supply chain social and environmental responsibility that we take very seriously. Our Supply Chain and Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) teams are in lockstep when we make changes to our operations.

Finally, we have our Pan-HP Supply Chain Optimization. We are working across our three main business units to simplify processes, leverage spend, drive progress, and exceed customers' expectations.

How has outsourcing enabled Hewlett-Packard to be successful with these initiatives?

Our partners and suppliers are key to HP's success in delivering innovative and market leading products to all of our customer segments. Our suppliers must be like HP - efficient, streamlined and socially and environmentally responsible.

How is Hewlett-Packard addressing the market's increasing focus on 'green' supply chains and reducing a company's carbon footprint?

The IT industry is responsible for just 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions; so while we are fully committed to reducing our own impact, we are also leveraging our size, scope, technology, and customer relationships to impact the other 98% of emissions coming from outside our industry.

Internally, we are streamlining our manufacturing and distribution nodes, and adjusting our modes of transportation to be more efficient, and so the delivery of our products is done with less impact on the environment. We are also working closely with our manufacturing partners and suppliers to improve their energy efficiency. HP has expanded our carbon accounting beyond our own operations. In 2008 we became the major IT Company to publish our aggregated supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and we continue to work with our suppliers and partners to establish expectations on energy efficiency in their operations. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/globalissues/supplychain.html

Likewise, we encourage our customers to know and understand their carbon footprint. http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/us/en/solutions/hp-carbon-footprint-calculator.html?jumpid=reg_R1002_USEN

We have the opportunity to further impact global greenhouse gas emissions through our product offerings, product design and product usage by our customers. For example, HP offers software and services that help businesses and government organizations to reduce their own carbon footprints. Our newer printer and PC designs use significantly less energy than previous models, and are increasingly made of more and more recycled plastic. Finally, our Halo Videoconference Collaboration Studios allow for face to face meetings across the world without the need to jump on an airplane.

How is Hewlett-Packard addressing the market's increasing focus on 'safe/secure' supply chains, such as the new US and UK regulations due to increased risk of explosives on cargo planes?

As always, HP will continue to comply with international, federal, regional, state and local regulations and requirements with regard to air or sea freight. If implications do arise, we will take the necessary steps to ensure HP will continue to deliver to our customers, while adhering to laws and regulations.

What do you think are the key Supply Chain Management priorities for the coming 2-3 years for Hewlett-Packard?

We will continue to focus on our Pan-HP Supply Chain Optimization through four specific work streams: Procurement & Product Design, Physical Network & Logistics, Process & IT, and Services & Warranty. Our innovation and sustainability efforts will remain at the forefront, and we will continue our focus on emerging markets.

What do you think are the key Supply Chain Management priorities for the coming 5-10 years at Hewlett-Packard?

In the next 5-10 years, HP's supply chain will be expanding across the world as our business and our products serve even more global customers. As we grow, we will focus on building relationships. Intensive collaboration with our suppliers, manufacturing partners, and customers will become a key priority. We will work on becoming more flexible as the needs of our global customer base will become even more diverse. While doing all of this, we will continue to build efficiencies in our business wherever possible.

What are the biggest challenges for manufacturers to achieve supply chain excellence?

At HP, our innovation in products, technologies and supply chain itself have driven HP's Supply Chain performance and excellence. As the world's largest IT company, our supply chain has to deliver more products and services than any other company and our scale provides us intrinsic advantage to address external market pressures.

Who is responsible for your company's business continuity planning when facing natural disasters, major disruptions or other geopolitical issues?

Everyone in HP is responsible for successfully business continuity planning and implementation. Delivering to customers in 170 countries around the world, 24 hours a day requires team effort across the globe.

How do you grade Hewlett-Packard's supply chain overall performance in client satisfaction?

More important than how we grade HP's client satisfaction is how others and most importantly how our customers grade HP's performance. In AMR/Gartners' Supply Chain Top 25 for 2010, our peers ranked HP's supply chain 7th across the globe, across all industries.

During this economic downturn, how do you keep your entire organization motivated?

The past two years, more than anything, have provided our supply chain with opportunities. We began with our Supply Chain Optimization initiative, really leveraging our scale and expertise across all three of our businesses in order to further improve our operations.

What are the key factors to ensure a successful Contract Manufacturing (CM) relationship? How important is trust in Hewlett-Packard's/CM relationships?

Our partners and suppliers are key to HP's success in delivering innovative and market leading products to all of our customer segments. Our suppliers must be like HP - efficient, streamlined and socially and environmentally responsible. We promote transparency in the supply chain. We believe that transparency gains trust, which improves the effectiveness of our supply chain work. We provide global and regional summaries of our audit findings as well as detail of our supplier capability building programs in our Global Citizenship Report. In 2007, we were also the first in our sector to publish the names of our suppliers and we continue to do so. This remains an industry-leading practice.

How do you prepare for the upturn now that the economy is showing improvements?

HP has a diverse offering of IT solutions and products, and with that comes multiple supply chain models that are used to deliver product to customers more effectively. It is because of these different models that we are better able to anticipate coming changes in order frequency and type, and better able to react to them quickly. Whether it is the current upturn in the economy or the peaks and valleys that we see in any normal economy, HP is ready to right-size our operations and deliver product efficiently and effectively.

How are standards changing in the global supply chains of the future?

We embrace the challenge of raising standards in our supply chain both with HP employees and our suppliers and partners. The insight we have gained helps us to continue to make improvements in our global production network even as we continue to uncover new challenges. Improving supply chain standards is an ongoing process, and collaboration is vital to our program's success. While assessing conformance is essential, our goal is long-lasting change. To achieve this we have found it important to go beyond assessment and actively support suppliers in developing their labor, health and safety, environmental, and ethics management capabilities.

What are your thoughts regarding globalization?

HP is the world's largest information technology (IT) company and has the industry's most extensive supply chain-with more than 700 production suppliers working in more than 1,200 locations worldwide and employing more than 300,000 people. We have to manufacture, deliver, service and recycle products around the globe.

What attracted you to supply chain management?

I like to solve complex problems. I enjoy managing a global team and I've always loved the pace of manufacturing. There is never a dull day!

What are the main skills and personal attributes that have helped you reach your current position?

I am analytical and have an ability to sift through and then integrate information to understand the full picture. I'm not afraid to make difficult decisions. I don't compromise my integrity under any circumstances. Finally, I am passionate about building a great team and the team makes me successful.

What would you say is the most rewarding experience you've had in your career?

I've had the pleasure of watching many people I've mentored grow and contribute hugely in their careers.

What have you learned as "VP of LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions Operations" that has surprised you or changed the way you do business?

I am learning how to leverage the power of HP. There are lots of best practices to leverage. The process work done at HP is excellent. The challenge is finding and then harnessing the power of this company with its history and size.

Who do you rely on for advice?

I have worked hard to keep in touch with a number of colleagues over the years. The combination of experience, perspective and approach is a storehouse of wisdom that I draw from regularly. I don't have a lot of time but have figured out through the years that the investment in developing a network of friends and advisors is worth the extra time.

How do you balance your work life with your personal life?

There is really no such thing in my experience. At any one time I'm unbalanced in one way or another. But I've managed to carve out focused time for family and friends over the years. The time I have away from work recharges me. When I don't get it I lose some perspective. Frankly, I owe it to my employees and to HP to pull away from work to get a better grip on strategy, long term objectives, people development and outside context.

January 2011
See the recipients of the 2009 Top 25 Supply Chain Executives Award.