Alumni Success Story: Francisco Cebrián, ZLOG 2007 and Enterprise Solution Architect at Blue Yonder. See profile on Linkedin
You graduated from ZLOG back in 2007, being one of the first classes of the program. Time flies! How has your career path been since then?
I started as a consultant, learning the basics of how logistics software works: listening to customer requirements, translating them into a design that outperforms expectations, setting up the building blocks to interact with other systems – typically ERPs and WMS’s and ensuring we all learn during the process. As I gained more experience, I had the opportunity to advise other colleagues, thus gaining insight into a broader set of implementations and industries.
I spent most of my time in the area I am more passionate about: transportation optimization. Since my ZLC thesis with professor Prashant Yadav until today, I enjoy using software to manage resources as efficiently as possible. While this has always been important in relation to cost saving, it has now become critical given the global energy challenges and climate change implications. I am very excited to help Blue Yonder customers to achieve such goals.
It seems that the tech industry has hitched you! You have achieved global experience in digital supply chain transformations. What to date has been your biggest challenge? Is there a project that you feel especially proud of?
Each project has its own intricacies; while the overall objective is usually to streamline customer operations, their specific complexity varies a lot: from optimal usage of a fleet to international container shipping, from complex multi stop routing to multi-layer 3D load building, you name it.
From an organizational point of view, this type of transformational implementations tends to involve several teams (sales, warehousing, manufacturing, transportation, etc) often in different geographies and various organizations (customer, external partners, providers).
All these factors considered together contribute to a significant complexity in most of our implementations, thus we are always proud when the customer gets a solution that exceeds their expectations.
Is there any particular aspect of the ZLOG program which influenced you and which has helped you develop professionally and personally?
Just related to my previous answer, the ZLOG program provided me with exposure to an international environment of mixed backgrounds, which is very similar to what we find in the field. Teamwork is core to ZLOG too, which serves as the ideal practice for candidates before moving ahead into their future positions.
On top of that, the program gave me a broad view of the end-to-end supply chain with all its ramifications. While I focused on transportation and network optimization in my career at Blue Yonder, having the bigger picture in mind gives you the good insights to ask the key questions.
Your role in JDA Software implied a move to The Netherlands for 8 years. How well did you adapt – any highs/lows to report?
In a global company like Blue Yonder, this kind of moves are relatively smooth. In my experience, The Netherlands is quite an expat-friendly country and being close to a major airport helped a lot with very frequent travel in the pre-pandemic world. On a personal note, it is “the place to be” for a cycling enthusiast like myself.
In 2021 Panasonic completes acquisition of Blue Yonder, consulting firm where you work as Enterprise Solution Architect. How did you experience this transition?
Blue Yonder is now part of Panasonic Connect which, in my view, brings together the best of two worlds: the supply chain focused Blue Yonder and the major conglomerate Panasonic. For Blue Yonder, it opens a lot of opportunities in new markets and I am looking forward to it.
Knowing what you know now, would you still enroll into the program if you had the chance to go back and do it over again?
Definitely yes! in a resource constrained world, we need to maximize the efficiency of our supply chains. The ZLOG program gives you the right knowledge, team experience and network to succeed in that critical and exciting journey.