Each month, Thomas will recognize the accomplishments of the next generation of industrial leaders through the NextGen for Industry award. Nominated by their peers or managers, these young professionals are driving industry into the future with innovative new ideas, exceptional thought leadership, and meaningful contributions to their area of business.
This month, Thomas selected Aleah Titus, Local Product Group Supply Chain Manager at ABB — a provider of power grids, industrial automation, electrification products, robotics and motion solutions for utilities, industry, and transport — as the first NextGen for Industry recipient.
After graduating from Western Michigan University as the only woman in a graduating class of over 200 men majoring in integrated supply chain, Titus was recruited into the ABB Supply Chain Rotation Development Program.
Titus is now one of the youngest Local Product Group Supply Chain Managers at ABB.
Soon after joining the ABB Traction team, Titus completely turned around a material shortage problem that was causing the company to fall behind on five concurrent projects. Tapping into her sourcing skills and working with the local IT staff to create a tool that would highlight shortages, Titus set up work with more than 55 new suppliers — she recovered the business in a mere 90 days.
Since demonstrating her skills early in her professional career, Titus has continued to advance within the company, eventually implementing a comprehensive, methodical category management approach that led to the creation of Global Category Management for Packaging, covering the United States, Finland, and China.
Advice for Aspiring Young Supply Chain Professionals
For those looking to break into the supply chain field, Titus emphasizes how important it is to keep in mind that “no two days are the same,” she says. “You have to be adaptable; you’ve got to be extremely flexible.”
The role of a supply chain manager, she says, is “strategic and [involves] a lot of firefighting day to day.”
Namely, the ability to “think strategically but act really quickly,” Titus tells Thomas, is what sets apart a successful supply chain professional. When a problematic production situation arises, for example, she doesn’t wait for others to correct the issue — she takes action herself.
“I’m known to jump up out of my seat, run over across the street to the warehouse, go through the racks to find the parts myself, and take them back so we can keep the production line going,” Titus says.
Titus points to critical thinking as one of the most crucial qualities for professionals in the world of supply chain. The ability to take “calculated risks and [stick] with them,” she says, is paramount when dealing with complex situations that often demand immediate action.
And above all, she says, “Be reliable and deliver on your word.”
A Commitment to Lean Six Sigma Mentorship
Dedicated to enhancing safety and productivity in the workplace, Titus is passionate about Lean Six Sigma. In fact, she considers it one of her favorite aspects of the job.
“What drives me nuts is when there are gaps in a process. What I enjoy most are using the Lean Six Sigma tools that I’ve learned … and fixing and/or developing new processes,” Titus tells Thomas. “Last year, I really made it my goal to mentor my peers and my colleagues, even outside of supply chain, through their Lean Six Sigma journey.”
Throughout her career, Titus has trained colleagues on the key aspects of Lean Six Sigma and has certified more than 26 ABB employees. She is currently coaching her peers to further their Lean Six Sigma certifications. Titus especially emphasizes the importance of “never looking the other way when it comes to safety and quality.
“That lays the baseline for everything,” says Titus.
Encouraging Women to Join the Supply Chain Field
One important theme throughout Titus’ career has been her dedication to empowering and encouraging female colleagues and peers.
“I’m so passionate about engaging females to get into the supply chain world [and] being a trailblazer for other young females in supply chain,” she explains, by showing them “how beneficial it can be and how many opportunities there are to take you all over the world.
“It’s a huge honor to represent [women in industry] as a young professional female in a leadership role within the field of supply chain management,” Titus says of her NexGen for Industry recognition. “I hope that I will be able to inspire other young professionals just like me that they, too, can contribute to the success of their organization.”
Do you know an inspiring young industrial professional who deserves recognition? Submit a nomination for the 2019 class of NextGen For Industry award.