Starting a career at the age of 15 and leading several areas like marketing, construction, and maintenance is remarkable, especially if a person has to make a mark in an industry dominated by the opposite gender. Challenges make a woman strong and capable in whichever field she is. By successfully overcoming all challenges thrown at her, a dominant leader found her calling to the Supply Chain Management niche of all the areas. Meet Andrea Pires, the Supply Chain Director of GRSA, Brazil. Andrea has been associated with the supply chain management field for more than 25 years. Her experience has taught her to value the people and partners who have helped her get to today’s place. She believes in building a strong rapport with everyone around her to achieve a collective growth goal.
Andera has been lending her valuable knowledge and expertise to GRSA to strengthen the company’s prospects in the SCM domain. Her company is the largest in the world in the foodservice segment. Andera’s mission is to continue the high standards set by the company so that her personal and professional targets are achieved. She aspires to be a great leader helping her team get better each day.
We at Insights Success interviewed Andrea to get a brief idea of the principles she works on.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at GRSA. What challenges did you have to overcome to reach where you are today?
I started working when I was very young -15 years old. At the age of 20, I joined Wal-Mart Brazil, and that was the first time I had contact with the supply chain field as an assistant buyer.
I loved the experience and decided to make my career in this area. At Wal-Mart, I had very relevant opportunities, which led me to stay at the company for 13 years until I reached the position of General Food Director. I left WM to join IMC, a Brazilian company administrated by Advent, an important investment fund. In IMC, I also worked for over 13 years and had opportunities to lead several areas, like marketing, construction, and maintenance. After that, I accepted the challenge of joining GRSA|Compass, a company that I joined in May 2021.
I could speak for hours about the challenges I had to overcome along with my career, such as prejudice for being a woman inside an area led, mostly by a man. But none of these challenges was a problem for me. Actually, all the difficulties made me grow as a professional and as a human being.
Tell us something more about GRSA, and its mission and vision.
Compass Group is a British company founded in 1941, being the largest company in the world in the Food Service segment. It is present in all continents, operating in more than 45 countries, and has over 50,000 customers around the world and over 550,000 employees.
In Brazil, Compass is represented by GRSA, which has been operating in Brazil for over 40 years and is among the leading companies in the group catering segment, with more than 1,200 service points, including restaurants and cafeteria, serving more than 1 million meals a day.
Our mission is to offer complete solutions to our customers, supporting them with all the solidity and high-quality standard of the Compass Group. Our business is to serve. That’s why we have specialized teams and differentiated solutions in each segment we operate.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact on the food services through your expertise in the market.
I have been working in the supply chain for over 25 years. I believe if you want to be successful in this business, you need to have a strong relationship with your partners. There is no success when you don’t understand the value of your suppliers. In the retail business, even though you know, they need your space to sell their items, without a good relationship, you cannot move forward.
In the food services, this is even stronger. You have the same vendors with lower volumes to be your partner. So, you need to build strong alliances to be able to serve your clients and offer a quality service as expected.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
Our Vision is to be a world-class supplier of food and support services, ensured by our team, the service we offer, and our best results, with the mission of consistently and efficiently providing excellent services, generating benefits for all.
What we collectively believe and what guides our behaviours are:
- Openness, Trust, and Integrity.
- Passion for Quality.
- Success through teamwork.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
It is estimated that the volume of data created in the last two years is greater than the amount produced in the entire history of humanity, so I believe that data are our great treasures. But, availability, analysis, and the correct interpretation are needed so it all can be used to contribute to decision making and to improve planning processes throughout the Supply Chain.
That is why we have invested in systems and processes that can integrate the entire supply chain and provide us with insights for a more assertive demand forecast, in an increasingly optimized transport, reducing fuel consumption and CO² emissions, in the correct management of inventories, in customer segmentation, making the Supply Chain increasingly transparent, with a higher level of automation and optimization, with reduced inefficiencies and risks, providing an improvement in the level of service delivered to the customer at lower costs.
If given a chance, what change would you like to bring in the Supply Chain industry?
I believe that the main challenge in the Supply Chain after the beginning of the Covid Pandemic is demand forecasts, as pre-COVID forecast models do not have great relevance, and models developed in the last two years may soon be underutilized due to sudden changes that end up causing shortages or excesses of stock, loss of revenue and a low level of customer service. Considering omnichannel sales and sudden changes in consumer behavior, forecasting becomes even more complex, so the old ways of forecasting demand simply don’t work anymore.
That’s why I would use my chance on systems and processes that can work on demand forecasting more frequently and based on high-quality, real-time data for greater accuracy, better customer service, and lower costs. I believe that this is an important path for the supply chain.
What, according to you, could be the next big change in the Supply Chain industry? How is GRSA preparing to be a part of that change?
In recent years, supply chain disruptions around the world have increased significantly. The pandemic is one of the factors that impacted this field, but the political scenario, natural disasters, economic crises, wars as the most recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine also directly influence supply interruptions and are extremely harmful to the Supply Chain Industry.
Considering all these factors, the big change expected is a more resilient, dynamic, and agile Supply Chain that can adapt quickly and mitigate interruptions. Technology is important and can really influence Supply Chain agility, but I believe that three elements are also key:
- Investment in the team, because Supply Chain professionals are prepared to adapt to sudden changes. Technology helps, but nothing replaces a well-trained and engaged team.
- Select reliable suppliers that allow solid and lasting partnerships.
- Continuous improvement: technology plays an important role in the continuous development of the Supply Chain, but it is people who play an essential role in the search for innovation and continuous improvement.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for GRSA?
GRSA is a huge company with a worldwide presence. It would be great if I had the opportunity of working in another country and lead a different group.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the supply chain sector?
I would say that the supply chain field is challenging, dynamic, passionate, and certainly important. It’s game-changing; if you buy right, you sell right. So, you have to be well informed about the market, and you need to have strong relationship skills and be a great leader. And work hard all the time. If a professional feel comfortable with it, so, will be successful in this business.