Meyer Skalak

Senior Director Purchasing, Chick-Fil-A

  1. Why did you choose a career in supply chain?

Well I think it’s more appropriate to say my career in Supply Chain chose me.  After an early career in corporate finance, I was looking for a change and fell in love with Chick-fil-A.  Chick-fil-A had a need for someone in Supply Chain with some strong financial acumen and as they say the rest is history.  Now, I choose to stay in Supply Chain because I think it’s exciting and close to the heartbeat of any organization.  I enjoy the aspect of strategically interacting with internal stakeholders and then collaborating with external partners to drive results.

  1. What are the main responsibilities in your role?

Like many of my contemporaries, I get the opportunity to wear a multitude of hats.  I have accountability for four key areas – Restaurant Direct Sourcing, Corporate Procurement, Supplier Quality & Safety and our Product Launch Team.  I like to think of my role as providing leadership for our Strategy, Talent and Key Deliverables.

  1. What are your three biggest challenges on a daily basis?

Everyone faces similar challenges in today’s hectic environment.  If I were to zero in on my top 3 currently, it would be:

  • Supply Continuity – Chick-fil-A has experienced exponential growth and ensuring the continuity of our supply has proven to be a constant challenge.
  • Supply Integrity – the breadth, complexity and size of Chick-fil-A, makes it challenging to guarantee the quality and safety of all products. This requires strong partnership from all stakeholders.
  • System Complexity – I believe we’ve moved from operating in a complicated environment to a complex environment. It’s becoming more difficult to understand and manage all the various touch points that impact our business.  We’ve seen this in the last year from natural disasters to trade agreement uncertainty.  As the adage goes, the only thing certain is change.
  1. With regards to your session, what is the biggest challenge in creating successful collaborations in the supply chain?

I know this sounds simple but I really believe it’s about creating clarity throughout the supply chain via improved communication and transparency.  Do this right and you create – clarity.  Clarity will allow everyone to focus and align to the goals du jour. 

  1. How do you see the supply chain in North American changing in the next few years?

There’s a lot of ways to answer this question but what I’ve landed on is a paradigm shift from an Efficiency mindset to that of an Effective mindset.  We all have examples of things in our life that aren’t the cheapest or most efficient but are effective to our individual needs.  By all accounts, cooking at home is less costly but people still choose to eat out because its more effective for their lifestyle.  I recognize most people may default to technology in their answer to this question but recognize technology without strategy will never meet the customer needs.  I’ve always been taught it People, Process and the Technology.