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ASCM Insights

The Secret to High-Performing Teams

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Shaunna Rudolph, CTL, CPPS
Supply Chain Director
General Dynamics IT

Editor’s Note: Shaunna Rudolph earned the 2021 ASCM Award of Excellence — Supply Chain Leader for exhibiting extraordinary team and organizational leadership; providing dedicated coaching, mentoring and support of colleagues; and making lasting contributions to the advancement of the supply chain profession. Call for Entries for the 2022 Awards of Excellence is now open! Learn more at ascm.org/awards.

What events in your life led you to a career in supply chain?

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was being groomed for a work life in supply chain from a very young age, with my mom, cousins, and other extended family members serving in logistics roles within branches of the military and civilian organizations. It’s practically a family business! I’ve always been a numbers person and originally planned for a career in accounting. But after my first few college accounting courses, I realized that path wasn’t for me. I spoke with mentors and college career counselors and enrolled in two logistics and supply chains courses that counted as electives toward my degree. Through these classes, I found a career path that combined my affinity for numbers and data-driven results with a dynamic work environment with exciting challenges every day.   

What are your primary responsibilities at your current job? How do these enable you to make a difference?

In my current role as supply chain director at General Dynamics IT (GDIT), I am responsible for the oversight of a multibillion-dollar, high-volume federal contract supply chain. I oversee sourcing and procurement, warehouse and distribution center operations, order fulfillment, global transportation, warranty support, asset repairs operations, facility management and renovations, safety, and more. 

Every day, my team leads a group of mission-driven logisticians across all supply chain functions. If our customers cannot buy the parts and products needed locally, GDIT is their source for critical materials. For example, GDIT was the relied-upon source for our customers’ personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement efforts. As our customers worked to keep their personnel safe and their operations open, GDIT was tasked with procuring $4.6 million in PPE and other sanitizing products, ensuring the products were of high quality and not counterfeit, and delivering the materials across the globe — without operational interruption. 

What did you do to support your team members during this challenging time?

I led with empathy and always remained flexible. Everyone on my team — myself included — was faced with new challenges at home while still performing mission-critical activities at work. GDIT tried several scheduling scenarios to ensure continuity of operations and employee safety. Historically, the two warehouse shifts overlapped to allow for cross-training and better work transition. Ultimately, the operation moved to defined first- and second-shift operations that allowed our warehouse teams the flexibility to work alternate shifts and still care for their families. This also helped ensured the health and safety of our teams.

Employees who were able to perform their jobs remotely shifted to their home offices, but they were still challenged with distractions from their kids learning from home. In all cases, meetings were shifted to core school hours or other off-hours to provide the flexibility for employees to be present with their kids before and after school hours. Additionally, GDIT corporate support services were available to all employees who needed assistance. If schedule changes or shift switches were needed, GDIT accommodated as many requests as possible

How has your leadership philosophy helped you build a high-performing team?

As a leader, I focus on employee development and employee empowerment. Skilled and trained workers bring innovation and process improvement and deliver the performance results internal and external customers require. No matter their role, employees must understand how the inputs of others impact their roles and how their outputs — such as task accuracy, work quality and timeliness to complete tasks — impact others’ abilities to perform and exceed operational goals. There is always a task upstream and downstream that you impact. 

Additionally, I have found that increased end-to-end process knowledge and training drives process innovation and idea generation. Frontline workers in particular often contribute great ideas for making core processes more efficient. When leaders listen to the ideas of frontline workers and heed their recommendations, these frontline workers feel like they are a core part of company operations. And when they feel included and appreciated, their productivity and morale improve.

A few years back, we had an employee question the procurement of packing materials while tossing used boxes that could instead be shredded and used as packing materials. On their own initiative, they pitched the idea of purchasing a cardboard shredder, outlining the cost and environmental benefits of doing so. The idea was unanimously accepted and deployed and praised by management. When other workers saw that management listened to their thoughts, they were inspired to share their ideas too, and this created a team of change agents.

As you grew in your career, how did you help yourself transition from being a doer to a thriving leader?      

Transitioning to a leader is hard! It was hard for me to hand over operational reigns as I took on more responsibilities in my career. Even now, I still have to stop myself from answering an email I am copied on and let my team members handle it. I don’t feel that a leader ever stops being a doer, though. You just learn when you need to step in and when you need to step back. Being aware of and empathizing with what your team is doing and experiencing makes you a better leader. 

Ultimately, you must trust your team. Giving your functional managers the opportunity to lead, solve problems and make business decisions frees up your time to lead, but this simultaneously develops your future leaders.

A Day with Shaunna Rudolph, CTL, CPPS 

6 a.m. I wake up and turn on international news to check to see what world events happened overnight that could impact my Monday ahead.

7 a.m. Our morning routine at home is complete. We didn’t miss the bus!

8 a.m. I arrive at the office, coffee in hand, and get ready to start the workday. My first task is to refresh the operations dashboard to review the expected inbound and outbound volumes for the day.

9.30 a.m. I join my first customer meeting of the day. We discuss the impacts of the global supply chain disruptions on operations, including the mission-critical parts and transit lanes impacted.

11:30 a.m. During our supply chain operations strategy meeting, my team and I establish priorities for the upcoming week.

1 p.m. During lunch, I stop by a retailer for a curbside pickup. The interior doors for my home renovation finally arrived in store! 

2:30 p.m. I meet with the material forecasting group to update the program’s inventory stocking strategy. With the changes in market availability and lead times for parts, inventory investment needs to be reallocated to meet demand. 

4:15 p.m. My travel app alerts me to leave work to get my son to hockey practice on time. After a busy weekend of sports, I need to figure out dinner as well. I hope my grocery store is stocked with our favorite ready-to-eat meals. 

6 p.m. We made it to practice on time! While I wait for my son, I do some e-commerce shopping. I know I need to plan ahead for upcoming birthdays and other events in case supply chain delays and shortages make it difficult to procure the gifts I need.

About the Author

Jennifer Storelli

Jennifer Storelli is a freelance writer. She may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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