Alumni Success Story: Paul Lichtenstein, ZLOG 2020, Corporate Planning Manager at Natra. See profile on Linkedin
Hello Paul, we are delighted to count on you for our monthly Success Stories interview, where we show the trajectory of our Alumni and try to look at the past and future of your professional career.
In your case, your initial education took roots in areas such as agricultural engineering, business and operations, all of which are fundamental pillars of supply chain management. Have you always wanted to develop your career in logistics?
Well, I think I saw myself working in a Bank when I was at school, but always knew that I was going to be an engineer. I did some internships in agriculture companies in Brazil, and it was during these holiday-jobs my first contact with supply chain (specially with exporting orange juice and commodities operations).
Your first professional challenges were Packaging Supervisor and Programmer and Controller Analyst at AB Inbev (Ambev), in the beverage and FMCG sector. We understand that it is a very dynamic sector in which the management of the Supply chain requires constant dynamism. How do you remember that starting point in your career?
AmBev was like a school for me, like having another university diploma, but working. It was there where I had my first experience as a leader, with 13 people in a production line team in my shift, and with only 23 years old. But, during my next role in AmBev as an analyst, I was always worried to supply “my” factory with sugar and all raw materials, and let it never stops. If the plant stops, it was my fault (so I got used to never sleep). Also with production of beer and soda´s I have learned how to schedule production lines, using systems like SAP and my first contact with inventory polices.
Later you moved to the INDG Consultancy, specialized in Supply Chain and Sales, where you actively participate in the implementation of projects. The change from the manufacturer side to the consultant side was certainly very enriching …
It was!! I have worked there for only 8 months, but I have learned so much in how to generate and manage data analysis and how to make good presentations and communicate myself to clients and stakeholders. This is very important for any supply chain career.
Shortly after, you made the leap to M. Dias Branco, a leading company in the FMCG sector and a Brazilian leader in the rusk and wheat dough segment. You started as Logistics Regional Projects and Planning and worked your way up to Regional Supply Chain Manager for 9 years. What would you highlight from this stage of your career?
M Dias Branco is the biggest food company of Brazil, they have 18 industrial plants and 32 distribution centers. Working with business & operations in Brazil is an amazing challenge. Let me list some projects that I did during these 9 years:
S&OP and rough cut capacity plan x budget, implantation of Oracle Demantra planning system and SNO (Strategic Network Optimization), representing both the supply and demand perspectives, Production Wheel scheduler of 135 production lines, monitoring key performance and Costs Indicators, leading logistics projects (reduction of stocks costs, optimization logistics network, transportations methods, opening and closing warehouses and projecting viability of resources and equipment’s).
During the beginning of covid pandemic, I came back to Brazil and start working at Rio de Janeiro as Supply Chain Regional Manager, which I was the operational leader to achieve 95% of OTIF and more than 100 daily deliver trucks (more than 15.000 customers and invoicing 15 million euros per month). As an advice, I recommend operational experience for every supply chain leader (not only planning and data management roles, because it feels good to have ops. knowledge and the challenge that you get fighting on the ring).
In 2019, you decide, while at M.Dias Branco, to take a step forward in your career and going to Zaragoza Logistics Center to take the ZLOG, a leading Master’s Program in the international rankings. Why did you decide to do this program and why in Zaragoza?
In 2019 I decided to take 1 year to study, and when I was searching which were the supply chain best courses in the world, I have founded ZLOG, a world-renowned institute of higher learning that is known, with excellent research, and outstanding faculty. Besides that, living in Spain was always a dream that I had. I wasn´t thinking about hunting for a job in Europe after the master, but when I start doing interviews, I saw that any European employer that sees the ZLOG diploma is going to be impressed and you will have great chances to achieve a good job offer.
Currently, you are the Corporate Planning Manager at Natra, in its corporate office in Madrid, Spain. We guess that this is a great change, not only because of the change of company, but also when moving from Brazil to Spain during Covid times. Do you notice a big change in the management of the Supply Chain between M.Dias Branco and Natra? What are the current challenges you are facing because of the pandemic?
Both companies are amazing and very similar as industrial retail market, and both have many factories and production lines with people that belongs to different cultures. In Natra the greatest global challenge is to validate S&OP numbers, for example production capacities to achieve sales targets with high service.
It is not easy to move your life to another country during pandemic times, specially because you need to meet everyone involved to your new role, as well as systems and process. Everything is online and without knowing no one face to face, these are some of my key challenges to reach Natra´s goals.
You graduated in 2020. What is the most valuable asset that you take with you from your time in Zaragoza?
On top of everything that I could answer this question, I would say that being able to learn more about the subjects and theory that I love are the most valuable assets from being one year in Zaragoza. Apart from living in Spain and eating good food, I would say meeting best supply chain friends for life (plus networking), and to accelerate or change my career. Last but not least, the final thesis project for one of the most fantastic Swiss pharmaceutical companies in the world was a huge experience in my academic and professional life.
Why would you recommend the ZLOG in Zaragoza Logistics Center to those who are currently considering the possibility of applying?
Aside everything that I have mentioned above, if you love supply chain, Europe, working with different cultures, and a mix of academic curriculum and professional qualification do not hesitate to apply ZLOG.
Thank you very much for your answers, and we hope to see you again in Zaragoza and tackle projects together. We wish you a great finale to 2021.