During the intense months of Covid-19, when disinfectants and personal care products were in great demand, Kate Kobza was in a role where she had an immediate impact through working with manufacturers on the development and execution of these items. As Associate Manager for Procurement for S.C. Johnson, Kate was responsible for the end-to-end performance management of the company’s North American liquid-fill and monodose pack contract manufacturing portfolios.
The experience convinced her that “This pandemic has prompted supply chains to adapt to changing consumer behaviors resulting in supply chain reassessments to maximize efficiencies and best serve customers. Our supply chains have to be agile and proactive in mitigating component shortages and capacity constraints to respond to significant consumer demand increases to best serve our customers.”
Kate continues to grow and expand her capabilities and now, since August of 2021, is an E2E Supply Chain Agility Manager for Mars, Inc.
She’s taken a path to the supply chain profession that might be considered unique. Graduating from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Kate’s first job was as a Development Engineer and Project Manager for American Accessories International, where she oversaw the design, development, and manufacturing of custom consumer products for Fortune 500 Companies.
When she decided in 2017 to pursue an MBA at the Haslam School of Business of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Kate became aware of supply chain and the direct link of her prior roles within the industry. She explained, “Supply chain’s broad range of activities and diverse jobs is what further piqued my interest in a career path within this field which spans all industries and countries, allowing the opportunity to develop new skill sets personally and professionally.”
She worked as a Global Supply Intern with S.C. Johnson the summer during her MBA and then accepted a full-time position.
One of the aspects of supply chain that’s most intriguing to Kate is the human element. “People working in all aspects of the supply chain are necessary to drive each function within the field, effectively communicating and collaborating with each other.” She’s also aware of the importance of the supply chain field’s problem-solving culture, where “you are challenged to actively drive growth while mitigating risk on a daily basis. Supply chain is an extremely volatile field requiring critical thinking and adaptability to achieve success.”
Kate highly recommends young women consider supply chain as a future career. “While this field has a history of male-dominated roles, women provide a well-rounded addition to the field overall through diverse skillsets and perspective. Supply chain is a field in which one is not restricted to one particular function. Due to the collaboration and connectivity between each aspect of the supply chain, opportunities are endless.”
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