Smith Discusses Supply Chain Operations

The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and S.G.I. hosted Gary A. Smith as he gave advice and discussed the ins and outs of supply chain operations on Nov. 10 in the D’Angelo Center in their continuing efforts to inform students about different careers.

Supply chain operations encompasses researching and purchasing the necessary materials to meet customer demands.

Smith, who holds certifications in supply chain management and is the director of Supply Chain Operations for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), spent most of his career in the private sector before joining the NYCHA in 2004.

Smith began by describing the NYCHA and some of the differences between public and private sector supply chain operations.

“We have to deal with multiple jurisdictions, and a lot of public agencies have to deal with that,” said Smith. “We also have to possibly consider non-economic factors.”

It wasn’t all differences, as he also discussed similarities between the public and private sectors.

“Obtaining the best value for the organization – just like the private sector, we are trying to, we have to provide the best value, not necessarily the lowest price, but the best value,” said Smith.

Smith went on to discuss the role of technology and how to leverage it to your advantage when managing supply chains, specifically procurement.

“What we are looking at is leveraging technology to make the company procurement process a much faster process,” he said. “It’s easier to put together bids, easier to do procurement contracts, et cetera.”

He also spoke about the roles of diversity and sustainability for supply chain managers, tackling subjects like supporting small businesses, using green supplies and how to have a positive impact in supply chain operations.

“I say change the rules of the game by creating a sustainable supply chain,” he said, “by purchasing materials, and purchasing the right materials… and producing those materials that are sustainable, and requiring your vendors to be sustainable, and their vendors to be sustainable and have sustainable policy.”

Smith noted that the NYCHA has given 21.6-percent of supply chain operations contracts to Minority and Women Business Enterprise (WMBE) firms.
Smith continued by speaking about the progress that has been made at the NYCHA, highlighting 5.4 sigma inventory accuracy, a 50-percent decrease in inventory investment, a 50-percent improvement in inventory turns, and a 94-percent first-time fill rate.

He concluded his presentation with some advice, telling students, “What I want do is encourage you guys to really push your boundaries by working outside of your comfort zone.”

“So, never accept the status quo, change the rules of the game,” said Smith.

After the conclusion of hispresentation, Smith then hosted a short question and answer session in which students were allowed to ask their
own questions about supply chain operations.

Dr. Jay Nathan, a professor who teaches classes on operations and supply-chain management said he believed it is important for people like Smith to speak to students.

“I think first of all, it is beneficial to our student body to understand that there are other skill sets needed in today’s economic downturn,” he said.

After the event ended, Smith said the best advice he could give to students is to continue to grow.

“Never stop learning,” he said. “I have never stopped learning in my career.”