Alumni Success Story – German Ibarra, ZLOG 2023, Sales & Operations Planning Director at Hortifrut


Alumni Success Story – German Ibarra, ZLOG 2023, Sales & Operations Planning Director at Hortifrut. See profile on Linkedin

I decided to study a master in supply chain some years ago and I proposed it to my company where they were willing to pay half of my tuition. So then I started looking for a place and I decided to go to Zaragoza Logistics Center because of the professors they have and the relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well.

To start off, could you share what motivated you to pursue a Master’s degree specifically in logistics and supply chain management at ZLC? What factors influenced your decision to specialize in this field?

This decision to specialize in logistics and supply chain management is a blend of personal ambition and strategic career planning. Driven by 5 pillars:

  • Professional Growth and Career Aspiration: a desire to elevate my professional capabilities and position myself for advanced roles within Hortifrut.
  • Company’s Strategic Needs: A clear vision for Hortifrut’s future, specifically the desire to innovate and lead a transformative change within the industry.
  • Educational value of ZLC and MIT affiliation: The choice of Zaragoza Logistics Center was not incidental; it was a deliberate preference for a program known for its excellence and its affiliation with MIT.
  • Community and network building: include building a valuable network of peers, friends, and future colleagues.
  • Long-Term vision for organizational growth: Initiate and engage new students and alumni for new projects fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation within Hortifrut.

It seems like your experience in the ZLOG master has been truly transformative. How would you say your participation in this program has contributed to your career path as Sales & Operations Planning Corporate Director at Hortifrut?

The program honed my strategic thinking and decision-making skills, enabling me to adeptly align our sales and operations planning with the company’s overarching goals. This deep experience in supply chain management is the cornerstone of my ability to drive efficiencies, reduce costs and been instrumental  effectively in overseeing our strategic and operational planning processes.

Additionally, the international environment of the program has broadened my global perspective and cultural sensitivity, an invaluable asset in a multinational company like Hortifrut. Understanding cultural nuances and leveraging this awareness in negotiations and partnerships are crucial for our operations across different regions.


It’s fascinating to read how you’ve managed to integrate your academic experience with your work at the company. Could you share with us a specific example of how you’ve applied the knowledge gained in the program in your workplace?

In the program, I learned the importance of integrating advanced analytics and data-driven decision-making into supply chain management. We studied several case studies on how leading companies leverage big data and analytics to forecast demand more accurately, optimize inventory levels, and improve supply chain visibility. This exposure to leading-edge practices inspired me to initiate a project focused on improving our sales and operations planning (S&OP) process by adopting advanced analytics.

Upon my return to Hortifrut, I proposed a comprehensive review of our existing S&OP process, identifying key areas where we lacked data integration and real-time analytics capabilities. We then worked with a cross-functional team, including members from IT, operations, sales, and finance, to develop a more agile, data-driven S&OP framework. We integrated multiple data sources into a centralized analytics platform, which gave us a better understanding of demand patterns, production capacities, and inventory levels across regions.

In addition, greater visibility into our supply chain operations enabled us to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies more effectively, leading to targeted improvements in our logistics and distribution strategies.


As Sales & Operations Planning Corporate Director at Hortifrut, you’re likely dealing with the ongoing challenges posed by global supply chain disruptions. How has your role evolved in response to these challenges, and what strategies have you implemented to ensure smooth operations amid such uncertainties?

One of the first steps in combating these constant disruptions and challenges was to recognize the need to make our S&OP processes more adaptable and resilient. This meant moving away from traditional, linear supply chain models and adopting more flexible, networked systems capable of responding dynamically to unexpected changes. We placed more emphasis on establishing and creating scenario planning by trying to have upfront responses to different types of uncertainties and disruptions. To achieve these we have been working within the team, including two alumni, Khaled Eid and Harshit Pandey, in a model to capture all our necessities and processes to have a tool available to respond to our objectives as a company in the best way possible.

Besides the technical and academic skills, it seems like you also highly value the network and sense of community you’ve found in the program. How do you plan to continue collaborating with the MIT Zaragoza program in the future to drive changes in your company at large?

My experience with the MIT Zaragoza program has highlighted the invaluable role that networking and a sense of community play in driving personal and organizational growth. The diverse and dynamic community of professionals, academics and fellow students with whom I have connected through the program has not only enriched my learning experience, but has also opened up numerous avenues for collaboration and innovation. This is why one of the first decisions I had in mind even before finishing the program was to hire colleagues because they would be so easy to work with due to their way of thinking and push for future initiatives and improvements within the company. Finally, the decision to continue as partners with ZLC and present projects to develop together was to keep learning from the professors and future students to approach real problems that the company has today differently and continue getting to know students who could still contribute once the master is done within the company.