Foreword – Optimizing the Supply Chain


As a supply chain management practitioner and an academic program director managing both the undergraduate and graduate supply chain management program at Portland State University, I am often asked to recommend one or two books that every supply chain graduate should invest in. I often struggle to come up with even a single book to recommend. It is difficult to find a supply chain management reference book that combines the building blocks of managing a business, leadership, and developing a supply chain strategy that enables a company to compete successfully in a global and complex environment.

Jay Fortenberry, a colleague of mine who coleads our Global Supply Chain Study Abroad program, has 40 years of world-class experience from working at Toyota and Honeywell. He’s poured all of these experiences into his book and offers the best practices, necessary wisdom, and learned skills in running global supply chains. I am very excited for our future supply chain professionals because they now can have Jay’s reference book to take with them as they enter into this exciting field.

No doubt, the pace of technological change and the rate of new innovations in business models and the competitive landscape will disrupt almost every business. It is imperative that we prepare our young supply chain professionals to adapt a “Kaizen” mindset not only in their professional life but also in their personal life. Living in a sea of surging megatrends and figuring out the right piece of the puzzle to solve without getting overwhelmed by the situation is the type of insight that you will learn from Jay’s book.

In it, you will learn that inventory is a not a bad word but is actually needed to help reduce lead time and increase customer service levels by placing the right amount of inventory at the right place. For an industrial product manufacturer, the cost of goods sold is typically about 60 to 70 percent of the revenue. A 5 percent savings derived from the cost of goods sold will ultimately show up in the bottom line, and setting the right kind of key performance indicators will certainly drive the right kind of business financial performance. Equally important, all the participants in the value chain need to understand where the biggest opportunities lie and how to create shareholder value throughout the supply chain.

Finally, as a young supply chain professional progressing through one’s career and eventually reaching a mountaintop, one should consider how to give back. One must always recognize the privileges of having learned from all the great masters. Those reading Jay’s book will soon realize that it is his way of repaying his grand master. So, carry on grasshopper. Soon you will be writing your own book.

Daniel Wong, Director Academic Program, Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management