With an impressive career spanning three decades in supply chain, Cindy Bond of Phillips 66 has experience across all facets of supply chain, logistics, and transportation management.
Cindy Bond was just about six weeks out of college with a freshly-minted degree in finance when she realized that career choice really wasn’t what she envisioned. “I wanted to do something more active,” says Bond. “I started looking for a job that would help me reach that goal while also teaching me more about the company I was working for and about business in general.”
She found what she was looking for in supply chain, transportation, and logistics. Starting with a position in PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, Bond began laying down the foundation for a successful, long-term career in a field that both stoked her curiosity and let her take an active role in the business.
Working Across the Supply Chain
Today, Bond is Manager, Surface Transportation and Logistics for Phillips 66, a diversified energy manufacturing and logistics company that was formed in 2012 when ConocoPhillips separated into two standalone, publicly-traded companies. Over the last 20 years she’s advanced through the company (first with Conoco, ConocoPhillips and then with Phillips 66), along the way gaining a very broad knowledge of supply chain and everything that goes with it.
“I’ve worked across the entire supply chain—from materials and sourcing, to production and network planning to manufacturing and warehouse management, and finally through transportation to the customer,” says Bond, who also did a stint as a sales manager. “In that role, I got a different perspective and a better understanding of the sales process; I got a view from the other side.”
With 37 direct reports and a total of about 700 team members (including 650 who work for Sentinel Transportation, which Phillips 66 owns), Bond develops key strategies and manages the company’s surface transportation and logistics.
“We support all of our individual business segments as well as the facilities that manufacture and store our products,” says Bond, whose team manages both inbound and outbound truck and rail activity—from small parcels to bulk commodity shipments to project freight. “If we move it via truck or rail across the organization, no matter how big or small that shipment is,” says Bond, “my group is responsible for working with our business partners and customers to ensure it arrives safely and on schedule.”
Good Female Role Models
Early in her career, Bond didn’t see too many co-workers or managers who “looked” like her working in supply chain. “I didn’t interact with many women at all, much less in management roles,” says Bond, who is now seeing more women entering the field and enjoying successful careers in a field that she discovered over 30 years ago. “During my time at Phillips 66, I’ve been very fortunate to work for many women in increasingly higher leadership roles,” says Bond, who over the last 20 years has been in six different roles and worked for 13 different bosses, 50% of whom have been women. “I've been really fortunate to have really good female role models on my side, helping to navigate my career.”
As a whole, Bond says supply chain, logistics, and transportation is slowly becoming a more popular career choice for women. “Trucking is still a bit behind in that area, but we’re definitely seeing more of them coming into the rail industry,” she observes. “As the old guard continues to retire, I think we’ll see more and more women taking on leadership roles and rising up through the ranks in our industry.”
Transformation and Talent
Ask Bond what’s keeping her up at night right now and she’ll tell you that transformation and talent are her biggest pain point. The former is especially challenging in a world where technology is becoming table stakes, yet not all large corporations have made the necessary investments in advanced supply chain platforms and other tools.
“The tools that my team has utilized to perform their jobs have been very manual and antiquated; they've largely relied on experience of the person in the role,” says Bond. Not wanting to lose that “tribal knowledge,” companies like Phillips 66 are implementing technologies like IntelliTrans’ Supply Chain Visibility Platform to support its logistics and transportation activities.
Once in place, that technology will help Phillips 66 manage more efficiently without the need for additional resources. This, in turn, will allow Bond’s team to focus on value-added work versus administrative tasks. “There's also immense value in receiving information in real-time, which should facilitate more timely and efficient decision-making,” says Bond, whose “wish list” also includes more metrics that can help identify both gaps and opportunities. “Those metrics will give us a better understanding of the root cause of supply chain inefficiencies, and help us prioritize how employees are spending their time.”
Finding the right tools to make that happen, and getting buy-in from key stakeholders, isn’t always easy. “There are a lot of tools out there, so one of the biggest challenges has been selecting and implementing them,” says Bond, “and then getting people across our organization to see these as advantageous in a corporate culture that’s been largely rooted in the ‘old ways’ of working.” To work through this challenge, she gets other departments involved in the IT decision-making and strives to keep key stakeholders involved throughout the technology selection/implementation process.
“We’re much more likely to get buy-in if they’ve been part of that process, versus trying to hand over a tool or system once we are about to cross the finish line,” says Bond, who is also grappling with talent challenges right now. Noting that supply chain talent is in high demand industrywide, she says developing young talent efficiently in today’s “big data, digitization, and fast-paced world” isn’t easy.
“We’re trying to identify the right talent and then developing it at a faster pace than we would have historically, to ensure they're ready to lead even earlier in their careers,” says Bond. “That requires lot of hands-on training, oversight, and the developing of roles that employees can quickly learn from and then move onto their next opportunity within the company.”
No Role is a Life Sentence
As she looks at the promising new talent pool that’s making its way into the supply chain industry right now, Bond says her mantra for younger employees “focus on building a strong foundation for your career.” In other words, learn and experience many different roles, knowing that upward mobility will come with time.
“Early in your career, it's more important to broaden your knowledge, evolve, and improve your skills versus focusing on moving up vertically,” says Bond. “Remember that no role is a life sentence; learn everything you can from each role to shape your career and provide a good understanding of what you truly enjoy and what you’ll excel at.”