"Think big and focus on partnerships"

Thu | 16 Jul 2020 | Interviews

Think big and focus on partnerships

We regularly interview inspiring professionals from the world of traffic, mobility, transport and logistics. We are keen to hear about what drives them and to gain knowledge about innovations and real-life cases.

This time, we spoke to Iris Westrik, Demand & Campaign Manager at Blue Ridge, a company whose cloud-native supply chain solutions combine intelligent science and automation to create a value multiplier for distributors and retailers.

You’ve been professionally involved in software solutions that make supply chains smarter for some years now. How did you end up doing that? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

“I drifted into this business through a friend. He was working for a supply chain planning platform for retail, wholesale and distribution companies and we were looking for an opportunity to work together. What appeals to me about this is the innovativeness and intelligence of the system that makes a real difference for the market – and not only financially. Our software also results in more efficient and sustainable business operations. The diversity of customers and prospects satisfies my natural curiosity; I love getting to grips with new and different ‘worlds’. And another really great thing is the team spirit that we have within the entire international team and our mutual interest in each other’s cultures!”

Imagine you were to reapply for your current role in 2030. What should you and the people who come after you have achieved between now and then?

“The key challenge is to think bigger, and especially within partnerships, to allow each individual company to specialize and innovate. In terms of the Supply Chain Planning platform I’m now working for, I also see a need to expand beyond the sectors we currently focus on. We should be able to provide successful solutions to so many more industries. Besides that, I hope that – despite our current growth – we don’t lose the team spirit within the company.”

How do you incorporate your personal goals into your work? Or in other words, what sets your heart racing?

“I’m an enterprising person and am in the privileged position to now be working together with the friend I mentioned earlier to launch an American platform on the European market. It feels like being my own boss, but with the benefits of an employment contract. Besides that, the timing is perfect, since Covid-19 has made the need for supply chain optimization tangible for companies in our focus sectors. Every euro that we can help them to save in inventory costs frees up capital they can use to safeguard their business continuity. What sets my heart racing is hearing that customers are achieving real benefits and that they’re willing to act as a reference and tell the rest of the market about us.”

When it comes to opportunities for companies active in supply chain, where are the biggest chances? And can you give us a couple of examples?

“In taking a more conscious view of the bigger picture – the supply chain is not just affected by the supply and demand of products, but also by the price. By using a price optimization solution alongside supply chain planning, retailers, wholesalers and distributors set themselves apart from their competitors, and so do we. That has an extremely broad impact. It’s important to not only consider the short-cycle economic effects, but also to include in your calculations long-term aspects such as the environment, the local economy and/or your footprint. The future lies in cloud software solutions and Software as a Service. Thankfully we’ve already completed our own digital transformation and all our customers are using our software solutions in the cloud.”

Which companies do you regard as shining examples of embracing digital technology in the supply chain?

“The e-commerce players such as Coolblue are good examples, of course, but so too are the distributors behind the retailers. For instance, did you know that in the Scandinavian countries, the large majority of all alcoholic drinks sold in stores are planned using Blue Ridge’s Supply Chain Planning solution?”

Which opportunities or threats do you foresee for our industry following the coronavirus crisis?

“Covid-19 has made it very clear that unexpected changes in demand create challenges for companies. Moreover, emotions aren’t a good basis for decision-making so there’s a crucial need for data-driven insights. But there have also been some nice examples of companies being creative with their capabilities, such as distilleries that switched to producing hand sanitizer and companies that joined forces to get face masks produced and shipped to the Netherlands."