30 Under 30 Supply Chain Star Jordan Haller on Leading ExxonMobil’s Preparatory Procurement Efforts for Hurricane Irma

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of Q&As with a few winners of this year’s Thomas/ISM 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program. Check out previously published interviews with Charlotte de Brabandt, Rhiana Gallen and Tanner Ryan.

Jordan Haller knows a thing or two about safety. In 2015, the procurement supervisor at ExxonMobil was named to the National Safety Council’s list of 40 safety leaders under the age of 40 for leading a near loss campaign for his company. And last summer, Haller led ExxonMobil’s preparatory procurement efforts for Hurricane Irma.

In the meantime, Haller, who has a bachelor’s degree in supply chain and information systems from Penn State University, also managed to complete an MBA at Louisiana State University. Today, Spend Matters chats with Haller on supply chain disruptions, prioritizing safety and why he expects the internet of things to push supply chain optimization to the next level.

Spend Matters: Penn State has a renowned supply chain program. How did you become interested in supply chain? Were you already interested in this field when you were applying to college?

Jordan Haller: I knew going into college that I wanted to major in business, but I wasn't sure which direction I would take. When I got to Penn State, their supply chain program had just been ranked No. 1, and because of that I started doing more research on the types of jobs that were available in the field. The procurement side of supply chain was a perfect fit for me, as I've always enjoyed the opportunity to negotiate and learn how products are made.

SM: How did Penn State’s supply chain program prepare you for the real world?

JH: In my opinion, the most important factor that made the program so effective is that almost all of the professors come from industry. Learning through real-life examples and anecdotes helped guide me to better understand the skills I needed to develop to further my career. I was able to hit the ground running when I got to ExxonMobil because I was exposed to so many realistic scenarios and complex problems in class.

SM: Four years after you graduated from college, you went back to school to pursue an MBA, which you completed in 2017. What made you decide to pursue the MBA?

JH: I decided to go back because I felt like I wanted to have a more well-rounded background in some of the ancillary subjects that intertwine with supply chain, like analytics, accounting and finance. I chose Louisiana State University because I could complete the degree while working since they had an online option, and they have a tremendous alumni network within Houston and ExxonMobil.

SM: How did you balance the coursework with your responsibilities at ExxonMobil?

JH: I was hesitant at first because of how long it would take, but a good mentor of mine told me, “That time is going to pass whether you get the degree or not, you might as well be more productive with it.” The time went by quickly and I’m really glad I decided to go through with it. The most effective way to balance the additional workload was to get a firm schedule and rhythm to make sure you don’t get behind on assignments.

SM: You led ExxonMobil’s preparatory procurement efforts for Hurricane Irma last summer. How does safety and emergency preparedness play into supply chain management?

JH: Any disruption in the supply chain infers a loss in efficiency. However, in an industry like oil and gas, where the nature of our supply is designed to create energy, a disruption can cause much heavier outcomes.

For events like Irma, it’s utilizing the core skills of procurement, like negotiating well or having a lean ordering process, that can prepare operations to rebound quickly from any situation. Having the agility to respond well to unplanned events within the supply chain can have long-lasting effects that provide a competitive advantage.

Safety is at the forefront of every conversation and objective at ExxonMobil. It’s something that is ingrained in all new hires at the company from day one, because it plays such a large part in how we view our success. Finding leadership roles that impact safety from a procurement perspective has been my way of contributing to the company in the area it values most.

SM: Technology is often a part of any conversation on supply chain risk management. What technology do you think will truly prove disruptive for supply chain work?

JH: I think the benefits of advancements in the internet of things are what will push supply chain optimization to the next level. Having the transparency to see descriptive details on every item of inventory and stock through a smartphone or tablet will enable companies to be much leaner and reactive.

Once the data on historical usage of that material is available, in-depth analysis can start to identify trends and patterns that help companies better anticipate shifts in demand. Many companies are already beginning to embrace this technology, and the ones that do not will have a tough time competing.

SM: One of the purposes of the Thomas/ISM 30 Under 30 competition is to encourage young people to pursue careers in supply chain and procurement. Do you think the millennial generation, as well as future generations, will change the procurement profession? If so, how?

JH: Millennials can change the procurement industry by utilizing the skills that have defined our generation. Embracing technology to increase efficiency and speed, being more open to constant sharing and collaboration, and having an “intrapreneurial” mindset that leads to the solving of big problems within the structure of a larger company.

By enabling millennials to lead others with these attributes in mind, companies can find success through previously unexplored avenues. Our generation is extremely resourceful and can add the most value by challenging the precedent of how things have always been done.

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