Integrated Supply Chain (ISC) Influences Every Business Area
Today’s ISC employees work with sophisticated and complex equipment, engage with suppliers around the world, and coordinate multifaceted projects that roll out over the course of years. At Textron Systems’ Hunt Valley, Maryland campus, ISC plays a critical role in delivering products and services to customers including the U.S. military.
Manager Production Control & Logistics Kevin Conte and Senior Manager Production Control & Logistics Carleigh Lytle discuss ISC, as well as opportunities for talent development in the discipline.
Q: Describe your roles.
Conte: I manage our businesses’ inbound and outbound production material across the Hunt Valley campus. This includes all movement within the campus, as well as purchase orders and movement of materiel between vendors.
Lytle: I manage tactical operations for our Support Solutions business, including warehousing, planning and all repair activities for government-owned property entrusted to us as part of our U.S. Department of Defense contracts.
Q: What led to you to ISC as a career choice?
Lytle: I started college as a Finance major, drawn to the order and logic of accounting and other data-driven activities. During that time, I took a supply chain class that really sparked my interest – the idea of a discipline built around organizing everything, and making the business more efficient and optimized. I ended up choosing a supply chain major and later the ISC career path. I was part of Textron’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), rotating to several businesses across the enterprise and then spent three and half years at Textron Specialized Vehicles before coming to Hunt Valley.
Conte: I was hired into the Environmental Health & Safety team, which is part of the ISC organization. That role gave me the opportunity to meet many people in different areas of our businesses, and to understand more fully why ISC is so important. Later, Textron Systems introduced a rotational program for talent development in all the ISC disciplines, and I was excited to be a part of it.
Q: How have you been encouraged to grow your careers at Textron?
Conte: I would jokingly say that we have been “volun-told” to do a lot of things. In all seriousness, a lot of the opportunities I have sought or received came from asking questions and trying to understand why we do things a certain way. The supply chain is so interconnected – we are 100 percent dependent upon how well the person upstream does his or her piece of the job. One misstep can have a butterfly effect all the way down the chain to our customers. On-the-job learning has made us more well rounded and knowledgeable.
Lytle: Both of us have been given really challenging stretch assignments that pulled us out of our comfort zones. At the same time we were given tools, resources and the support of upper management to drive success. The hardest assignments are the ones in which you learn the most, and have the greatest opportunity to make an impact.
Q: Now that you have both advanced in your careers to become leaders of people, how are you paying it forward?
Lytle: It is important to develop the skill of delegating, giving early-career talent challenging and meaningful assignments as our leaders did for us. We also try to create a culture of talent development, both for on-the-job learning, as well as reading and staying up-to-date on the industry. Our LDP participants and summer interns spend a significant amount of time up front shadowing their internal customers and suppliers to understand every part of the value stream. As a result, they will know more about every area of the business and be more effective.
Conte: A lot of it has to do with creating the same opportunities I had to ask questions and understand why things happen a certain way. When employees come to me with questions, I encourage them to learn more about their colleagues in different areas and understand their jobs. I also believe in continuous improvement, and I’ve seen the goodness for the business and the employee in that approach. It is in everyone’s best interest to pay it forward and give people more knowledge.
Lytle: Having had the opportunity to learn from observing great leaders at work and asking them questions, I want to afford the same to my team. One of the best parts of our talent strategy is the ability to learn from observing and then applying those lessons in your day-to-day role.