Lessons Learned in a CPO's Transition from Auto to Life Sciences

Lessons Learned in a CPO's Transition from Auto to Life Sciences

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In the latest episode of the Auto Supply Chain Profits podcast, hosts Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths interview Carrie Uhl, who is the Chief Procurement Officer at Danaher Corporation. Carrie shares her extensive knowledge and experience in the automotive and healthcare industries, helping to bridge the gap between these two seemingly different sectors.

Carrie's journey from Magna to GE Healthcare and now Danaher shows how versatile supply chain expertise can be. Despite the differences in products, the core challenges remain consistent—such as security of supply, cost reduction, talent acquisition, and digitalization.

Technology plays a significant role in both industries. Carrie talks about how it enables communication and process adoption and facilitates lean manufacturing. She emphasizes the importance of supply chain technology for enhanced visibility and effective risk management strategies.

Carrie highlights the collaboration between the automotive and healthcare industries during the COVID-19 pandemic in the rapid production of ventilators. Showcasing how different sectors can come together to support each other in times of crisis.

The episode covers topics such as supply chain resiliency, supplier relationship management, and early supplier involvement in product development. It addresses the need for the automotive industry to recognize suppliers as essential partners rather than adversaries.

In the end, Carrie calls upon automotive leaders to prioritize supplier segmentation and proactively engage with key suppliers to leverage their expertise.

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • The need for professionals to adapt to industry transitions and leverage transferable skills
  • Exploring the differences and similarities between the automotive and healthcare industries
  • The importance of leveraging technology, such as ERP systems and digital tools, in supply chain management
  • Strategies for enhancing supply chain resilience and effectively managing risks
  • The value of proactive engagement with suppliers and early involvement in product development processes
  • Why continuous improvement and optimization are essential for supply chain processes
  • Moving away from treating suppliers as adversaries to building partnerships focused on mutual success

Featured on this episode: 

Name: Carrie Uhl

Title: Chief Procurement Officer at Danaher Corporation

About: Carrie is the Chief Procurement Officer at Danaher Corporation, where she spearheads initiatives to enhance quality, cost efficiency, and supply continuity. With a background encompassing leadership roles at GE Healthcare and Magna International, Carrie brings a wealth of experience in procurement and supply chain management to her current position. Recognized for her contributions to the automotive industry, she was named one of the 100 Leading Women by Automotive News and featured in Procurement Magazine's Top 100 CPO list.

Connect: LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Highlights:

[03:32] The Transition: Carrie's journey transitioning from automotive to healthcare, shedding light on the similarities and differences between the two industries.

[04:59] Tech in Focus: Exploring the role of technology in the health and automotive sectors, Carrie discusses how it varies between the two industries.

[08:57] Supply Chain Resiliency: Strategies for building resilient supply chains and adapting to unexpected disruptions.

[10:46] Program Launch: Jan and Carrie explore program launch processes and how automotive processes translate into the healthcare sector.

[12:11] Starting Early: Why it is important to involve suppliers early in the product development process. 

[16:16] Unlearning Old Habits: Reflecting on her experience, Carrie shares valuable perspectives on what the automotive industry needs to unlearn. 

[17:52] Carrie's Impact: How Carrie's automotive background benefits her current role in the healthcare industry.

[18:22] Actionable Advice: Carrie advises automotive leaders to take proactive steps amidst industry transformation.

Top Quotes:

[07:43] Carrie: “One of the things that is super important now and always is visibility into your supply chain. For example, as of this recording, there was an earthquake last night in Taiwan. And when I woke up to that news, the first thing I wanted to know at the touch of a button was how might my supply chain be affected. So, there's been a lot of progress over the last decade in maturing kind of those third-party feeds for risk. Maybe it could be financial risk feeds, or it might be geographical events. Those things are really helpful to companies to be able to connect them to your own internal technology.”

[09:15] Carrie: “You can't de-risk everything. It's just not possible. So, you've got to define what's most important as your place to start. Have a really good method for quantifying revenue impact, for example. If you don't get certain components, you need to know what's common across platforms. So, you've probably heard the term the industry uses about the golden screw, knowing what that one part is that is on everything you make, and it might be low revenue, but it's very high impact. So, I think you've really got to be intentional about scoping.”

[12:17] Carrie: “Whether it's a new product introduction or its end of life, you really need to be engaged with your most critical suppliers, especially if you're doing platforming because it's a risk of designing something that's going to be a very big and expensive problem later. If you don't understand their technology roadmaps, you choose something that's going to be obsolete. You put it on all of your products, or you pick a material on a sustainability watch list that can be a problem later.”

[16:56] Carrie: “We've got to stop treating our suppliers like they're adversaries. Nobody wins here in that model for very long.”

[19:47] Carrie: “Your best suppliers are almost always underutilized in terms of their expertise and their ideas. So, I would say for my call to action, spend the time with them proactively at their sites, at your sites, not on a team's call. Going to Gemba really matters with the right suppliers.”


Delivering on the Promise of Delivery: Automotive Sustainability and Profitability

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White Paper for Leveraging Risk Management in Automotive

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Operational Restart Readiness

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The 24 Essential Supply Chain

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Keep in touch with Auto Supply Chain Prophet's co-hosts Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths on LinkedIn.


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