Senior Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer
Debbie Lentz is one of the original AWESOME leaders, participating in the first Symposium in May 2013 as a member of the Supply Chain Leader panel and on several panels powered by AWESOME since then. She also serves as an AWESOME Advisor. Debbie joined Toys“R”Us in September of 2014 as SVP, Chief Supply Chain Officer. Formerly, she served as SVP, Customer Service and Logistics for Kraft Foods. Debbie has 30 years of supply chain, information systems, global procurement and operations experience. She served as Conference Chair of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) 2014 Global Conference.
Complete bio follows the Q&A.
Q: With all the supply chain leadership roles you’ve had and all you’ve accomplished, why take on such a major new challenge?
A: First of all, this is a great job. It’s a Fortune 500 company and because it’s a retail business, supply chain is instrumental in delivering a quality customer experience. Second, the mission at Toys“R”Us is to bring joy to our customers. What is better than that? It’s a positive and joyful environment.
Some people think there’s a phenomenon with women turning 50 who feel ready to conquer any challenge. Maybe it’s that we’ve gained confidence in ourselves and therefore, more courage. Maybe it’s that by then we’ve been doing something for a fairly long time and want to do something different. Maybe it’s because our children are a little older and that frees up some time and energy. For me, I think there’s some of all three.
But, most of all, in my case, it was because this position is an opportunity to take all my love and passion for supply chain and apply it to a company that is in a position to truly value and leverage that expertise as a critical part of the business.
Q: How did you harness that energy and passion to get started in your new role?
A: For me, the starting point was to get to know the people I’d be working with – my peers on the leadership team, my supply chain team, and my superiors. Of course, the people who hired me already knew a lot about me, but I set up face-to-face meetings and asked them questions like, “what can be improved?” And, “what can I do to help you?”
For corporate employees, I participated in a Town Hall Meeting to introduce myself. When I held a team meeting with supply chain representatives, one of the first slides I put up on the screen was a photo of my family. I wanted them to know that’s who I am, too. I’ve always thought it’s especially important to be authentic. People should know what matters to you.
I also developed a 90-day plan, even before my first day in the new role. It was about my priorities and what I wanted to accomplish first. I sent it to my boss and asked others for their feedback, as well. For the first 30 days, I pretty much kept to the plan and since then, I’ve made some revisions.
I’ve started visiting all the distribution centers, so I have a chance to meet employees there, too.
Q: Any specific plans involving people on the supply chain team, including those in the distribution centers?
A: I want the environment at our distribution centers to be safe, joyful and women-friendly. I want them to know it’s ok to have a family and to care about your family. In supply chain, as we’re finding with AWESOME, there are more of us (women) than before. Having women in the workforce encourages other women to join our field. It’s still a technical, operational business in many respects – but there’s much more encouragement for girls and young women to be analytical and to pursue fields like engineering. It’s getting better and it’s going to keep getting better.
As Senior Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Toys“R”Us, Inc., Debbie Lentz is responsible for directing distribution and customs compliance, global importing and exporting, fleet operations and domestic transportation for the company’s U.S. business. In this role, she also oversees inventory planning and allocation as well as e-commerce fulfillment, while driving efforts to significantly improve the company’s in-stock position in-store and online, ensuring that customers can shop whenever, wherever and however they want. Additionally, she leads the company’s logistics strategy for international markets to improve global supply chain efficiencies as part of the company’s “TRU Transformation” strategy.
Before joining Toys“R”Us, Inc. in 2014, Debbie spent 13 years at Kraft Foods Group, where she most recently held the position of Senior Vice President, Customer Service and Logistics. In this role, she oversaw 3,500 associates across a network of distribution centers, direct store delivery branches, a transportation fleet and more. Prior to this role, she lived and worked in Zurich, Switzerland where she led logistics to include global exports, fulfillment, product supply and customer service for 23 countries in Europe. Throughout her tenure with Kraft, Debbie also held positions in global procurement, information systems, manufacturing operations and supply chain across the company’s multiple businesses in North America and Europe.
Earlier in her career, Debbie worked for Nabisco Foods Group, culminating in the position of Senior Director, Logistics Operations, where she managed all transportation, distribution and warehousing activities.
Debbie serves on the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation and is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
Debbie received her bachelor’s degree in business logistics from Penn State University and a Master of Business Administration in operations management and personnel and labor relations from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
About Toys“R”Us, Inc.
Toys“R”Us, Inc. is the world’s leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 870 Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam, and in more than 730 international stores and over 210 licensed stores in 36 countries and jurisdictions. In addition, it exclusively operates the legendary FAO Schwarz brand and sells extraordinary toys in the brand’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com and FAO.com, it provides shoppers with a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys“R”Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates annually worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need. Additional information about Toys“R”Us, Inc. can be found on Toysrusinc.com. Follow Toys“R”Us, Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz on Facebook at Facebook.com/Toysrus, Facebook.com/Babiesrus and Facebook.com/FAO and on Twitter at Twitter.com/Toysrus and Twitter.com/Babiesrus.