‘30 Under 30’ Winner Leandra Taylor’s Aim for Efficiency Helps her Excel in Supply Chain Field

Leandra Taylor Shell

Leandra Taylor, contracts manager for Shell Exploration and Production Company, was named as one of this year’s 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program, a program created by the Institute of Supply Management and ThomasNet that calls attention to young, standout professionals in the supply chain management and procurement fields. At 26 years old, Taylor holds a bachelor degree in business administration in supply chain management from the University of Houston, Bauer School of Business, as well as a CPSM certification from ISM.

We asked Taylor about her experience in supply chain management, what advice she would give other millennials in the field and how she sees the industry progressing in the future.

Spend Matters: How did you get started in the supply chain management/procurement industry?

Leandra Taylor: Two weeks into my first supply chain class in college, my professor explained there was a function whose purpose was to save money and increase efficiency. I declared my major the next week and joined the local supply chain student organization, becoming president the following year. In 2009, I had the opportunity to complete an internship with Halliburton’s supply chain function. In 2011, I accepted a full-time position with Shell in its Procurement Graduate Rotation program, and I have held three roles with Shell since then.

SM: What attracted you to the industry? And, what do you find most interesting about your job in it?

LT: Supply chain was attractive to me because it fits my personality so well. I’m constantly asking myself: “Can I get this product cheaper elsewhere? How can I execute this project more efficiently? How can I plan this trip to ensure the lowest fuel cost?”

It all started when I was a teenager. I remember being at Kroger and wondering, “Why is the large bags of chips less expensive per ounce than the small one?” When I learned about economies of scale in college, I became excited about the prospect of getting the same product for a cheaper price, simply by taking advantage of mass production. This was my first real exposure to a supply chain concept, and the thought of bringing my personality and interests into a job had me very excited.

There are a lot of interesting things about my career. Being the only commercial person in a room full of engineers is pretty fascinating. More often than not, my technical counterparts are more concerned with delivery and quality, with little regard to price — so it’s my role to ensure that the commercial agenda is discussed and considered.

SM: What are your job responsibilities at your current role?

LT: My current role is within Shell’s Deepwater Projects organization as a contract manager. In this role, I work with my technical counterparts to develop procurement strategies, execute contract negotiations and perform contract management responsibilities for several categories worth roughly $200 million in spend.

SM: Who nominated you for the 30 under 30 program?

LT: Kathryn Conrad, a Shell colleague who is also in procurement. Kathryn was the megawatt winner for the 30 Under 30 program last year.

SM: What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated for the 30 Under 30 program, and then later that you were chosen as a winner?

LT: When Kathryn told me about my nomination, I was extremely honored. I knew she was a winner the previous year, and my first thought was “how great is it that she decided to pay it forward and nominate someone else.” After reading the very impressive biographies of the previous year’s winners, I wasn’t very confident that I would be selected, but was pleasantly surprised when the results were announced.

SM: Programs like 30 Under 30 aim to attract millennials to the supply chain management industry. Do you see this as important and necessary?

LT: Yes, this is important and necessary, as the demand for qualified supply chain professionals will continue to rise in the coming years. As companies continue the race to beat their competition, efficient execution, competitive pricing and effective logistics will only increase in importance.

I believe hiring and developing millennials will provide a competitive advantage to the growth and future of any supply chain. Not only are these individuals very savvy with technology (something that will only escalate in importance in the future), but they also are known to value collaboration and connectivity. All of this combined with their desire and eagerness to succeed makes them a powerful source of next-generation leaders.

SM: How do you think your skillset fits well with a career in the supply chain management/procurement industry?

LT: I’ve always been a believer that to be an effective supply chain professional, a person must have more than just hard skills or head knowledge. It takes a person with great communication skills, natural curiosity and polished relationship-building capabilities to truly excel in the function.

SM: What advice would you give to your peers in supply chain management and procurement?

LT: Something I strive to do better is to fight the status quo. Challenging a current process, a current contract strategy, a KPI measure, a mark-up fee, etc., can lead to a finding that will improve the bottom line. Be curious. Ask questions. Don’t let your age, gender or position stop you.

SM: How do you expect the supply chain and procurement industry to change or adapt in the future?

LT: The importance of the supply chain and the procurement function will only continue to grow in demand and maturity. Historically, these roles either did not exist or were not coveted. There was no growth, progression or development. As that continues to change, I foresee a lot of younger professionals taking on more senior positions — especially with the projected mass retirement of the baby boomer generation.

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