Earlier this year we spoke briefly with forecaster in the field, William Duty, Director of SIOP at Momentive Performance Materials, about his career path and the role forecasting has played in it.

You hold a degree from WV Tech in Mechanical Engineering. How did you get from Mechanical Engineering to a career in SIOP and Supply Chain?

When I graduated, I was prepared for a life as a reliability engineer. I worked as a summer intern at Union Carbide and was hired right out of college into a reliability group for a silicones company that was just spun off from Union Carbide. Just a few months later, company had to become stand-alone. As a result, a big part of my job became implementing new tools and systems. I ended up leading the maintenance, purchasing, and engineering portions of the project. I then quickly moved into more of an overall leadership role for the carve-out (the process of turning into its own company, now recognized as Momentive after the merger with General Electric’s Silicone Division).

From there, things got more interesting as we changed ownership structure eight times. Each time brought different challenges for me. Not long after the carve out was complete, we were purchased by Witco. Witco was doing a complete process redesign and implementing SAP. With my experience from the carve-out, I was assigned to this project. I ended up leading implementations all over the world for the next few years. Once this ended and the Witco merger was complete, I ended up back in the Silicones division, assigned to be the Global Supply Chain Leader.

I didn’t know much about supply chain, but I did know all the tools and how business functions worked from top to bottom. The silicones business was looking for a change agent to lead the supply chain Oliver Wight Class A Certification. We achieved Class A and I fell in love with the supply chain in the process. Many years and changes later, I am still happy to be in the supply chain.

Congratulations on your recent recognition by Demand & Supply Chain Executive Magazine. How does it feel to be a 2015 “Pro to Know”?

It was very nice recognition for what my entire team and I have accomplished. Sometimes we feel like we are making a difference but it was nice to have that validated.

What is your current position and what are your responsibilities?

I am the Director for Momentive’s SIOP Center of Excellence. My team and I are responsible for the tools and processes related to forecasting, planning, scheduling, and inventory management.

What forecasting challenges have you had to face in your career?

There have been many. My earliest challenges were just establishing processes, dealing with the data, and trying to create reports. Thankfully, those days are over – they consumed the time and energy of many people each month.

The economic downturn in late 2008 and the upturn that eventually followed were both major forecasting challenges. On the downward side, we didn’t know where the bottom was going to be. Then once we started back up, we had no idea on the speed of increase.

Now, the forecasting challenges we face are the same ones many companies face… it is a volatile world and we need better data and processes to forecast the future as looking at history probably will not give us the view we need.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to forecast?

Our Asian business, particularly a few years ago, was very difficult as 80% of the volume was very erratic. The majority of volume did not have any patterns to use to establish the forecast. This created many difficulties with developing a statistical forecast.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Having grown up in a very small southern West Virginia community, my most notable highlight has been the many friends and relationships that I have able to have all over the world.

Other highpoints of my career include achieving OW Class A in my first supply chain role, leading the integration of the Global SIOP team for Momentive, creating an MEI tool that really works, and finally getting to a world class set of tools that will allow us to create a best in class supply chain over the next few years.

And now for the human-interest part of the interview: what interests do you have outside of work?

I love football, photography/videography, boating, and movies – but nothing beats a good steak and beer on the deck. I enjoy watching the WVU Mountaineers on Saturdays and the Dallas Cowboys on Sundays.

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