Alumni Success Story – Raúl Prades, ZLOG 2014 and Global Senior Principal Data Scientist at PepsiCo


Alumni Success Story: Raúl Prades, ZLOG 2014 and Global Senior Principal Data Scientist at PepsiCo. See profile on Linkedin

Tell us, what´s your role as a Global Senior Principal Data Scientist at Pepsico?

PepsiCo is right now under a big global digital transformation with the IBP (Integrated Business Planning) implementation. In a traditional world, finance, marketing, commercial, supply chain, procurement teams… work in silos. What if marketing team decides to create a new promotion under an existing brand/product but when the demand comes to the factory, there is no capacity in the plants and the extra demand coming from that promotion cannot be satisfied? IBP tries to solve this problem – and many other ones-, by creating a unique plan for the whole company. I am currently leading, under the data science structure, the global deployment of the demand forecasting.


In your opinion, how important is the application of data in supply chain?

Data plays a key role in supply chain. It is impossible to optimize a supply chain without the right data. Over the last 20 years, data availability and computing power has increased exponentially while data storage cost has decreased almost equally. This new scenario is helping all the companies to enhance the whole supply chain. For example, imagine that you can combine external data sources with your own demand forecast. If your business performance is dependent on inflation, Euribor, weather, price variations, TV commercials, social network partnerships, marketing promotions… you can use this external data to improve your forecast accuracy even double digits.

The better forecast, the lower stock you need to satisfy your customers demand. But even more, with the computational power improvements in recent years (and easy cloud computing access) a company does not need a huge super computer to perform a complete stock level optimization every month. You can easily run algorithms to solve hard problems in a few hours when some years back the only option was to use heuristic approaches.


What do you consider are the main differences in supply chain among the different sectors you´ve been working on?

My previous experience in Entercoms was in the service supply chain world (spare parts planning). It was very challenging because the demand in service supply chain is usually very sporadic but sometimes very critical. In many industries being offline cannot be an option. Think about emergency phone (112). It is critical to serve the right parts at the required time. This criticality does not exist in the food industry, where you can plan ahead and the agreement with your customers usually imply to ship the next day (or even the next week) and not during the next 30 mins.


And from the stay and international learning at MIT?

MIT gave me the opportunity to see the world differently. The ways of teaching, the easiness of networking and not less important, the notoriety in the resume were key factors that helped me in achieving a career progression that otherwise it would have been very complicated.


Why would you recommend ZLOG master of Zaragoza Logistics Center?

ZLOG is a program with top world teachers, where top companies come to recruit and top colleagues come to learn… but all of this it is already expected. Why I would recommend to study this masters degree is mainly for the talent that brings together. Everyone, from teachers to students or speakers are highly talented. I think I have learnt more from the people being outside the classroom (and I can assure I learn a lot inside also!). But when talented people get together, it creates a unique environment that is very complicated to find anywhere else.