The Woman Who Keeps Intel’s Supply Chain Humming

One on one with Jackie Sturm, general manager of Intel global sourcing and procurement.

Intel VP Jackie Sturm oversees supply chain

"At Intel, the supply chain is a competitive advantage because it allows us to continue to operate the company despite perturbations that might be going on from natural disasters or other issues," said Jackie Sturm, vice president of the Technology and Manufacturing Group and general manager of Global Sourcing and Procurement at Intel.

Earthquakes, floods, bankruptcies and even wars pose a constant threat to any corporate supply chain. The resilience to adapt to rapidly changing conditions is critical to keeping companies running at full steam. At Intel, that need for resilience extends across more than 10,000 suppliers that provide everything from silicon wafers for chip manufacturing to coffee cups in the campus cafes, and all of this under the watchful gaze of one woman.

Jackie Sturm oversees Intel’s multi-billion-dollar Intel supply chain. She leads a group of more than 1,000 people who anticipate and respond to disruptions and negotiate contracts with players across the entire Intel supply chain, from healthcare and IT providers to substrate suppliers. Sturm, vice president of the Technology and Manufacturing Group and general manager of Global Sourcing and Procurement, joined Intel in 1993. Over her Intel career she has also held positions within the Intel Communications Group, NAND Systems Group and Intel Capital. Prior to joining Intel, she worked for HP, Ridge, a RISC startup and Apple.

Sturm, who also heads Intel’s Supply Chain Environmental and Social Governance program, recently spoke about important lessons from Apple’s supply chain practices, Intel’s efforts to avoid conflict minerals and responding rapidly to natural disasters.

Your organization constantly deals with disasters, strikes and shortages that threaten the supply chain. What’s an example of how your organization has dealt with an unexpected event?

Probably the biggest one that I really had to jump into was the Japan earthquake almost 2 years ago. But that one still really resonates because I was in Narita Airport (in Japan) when the earthquake struck and as soon as I could get a text out I sent it to my silicon guy saying, “Let’s make sure we’ve locked in our silicon supply.” And at the time that the earthquake hit, about 45 percent of the world’s Epi silicon was affected because of where it was.

Within hours we were able to get our silicon requirements in place. And we ultimately wound up supporting a couple of our other co-travelers out in the industry who needed silicon and couldn’t get at it.

Jackie Sturm Intel VP oversees global supply chain

"As the Ultrabook continues to evolve, a lot of the materials that are being pursued are new to the market," said Sturm.

Earlier this year, Intel was ranked No. 5 on Gartner Group’s annual Supply Chain Top 25. Which other companies have excellent supply chains?

Companies like McDonald’s, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Cisco represent some of the best. At Intel, the supply chain is a competitive advantage because it allows us to continue to operate the company despite perturbations that might be going on from natural disasters or other issues. And it allows us to provide predictable expectations to our customers and predictable financial results for our shareholders.

We want to ensure that the total solution that we deliver meets the five parameters of cost, quality, availability, technology and environmental and social governance.

Intel makes efforts to not use any conflict minerals in its products. What’s been the biggest success so far with conflict minerals?

We said by the end of 2012 we want every CPU that we ship to have no conflict tantalum in it. And we achieved that goal by mid-February 2012.

Every bit of tantalum that our suppliers buy, as raw material to our products, is certified as free from conflict. This year we’re going to triple that goal and achieve conflict-free for tungsten, tin and gold.

What are the critical issues supply chain issues this year?

Ultrabook. In particular, do our OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ODMs (original device manufacturers) have access to the components and parts that will be needed to assemble a high-performance, very high-functioning Ultrabook at the right cost?

As the Ultrabook continues to evolve, a lot of the materials that are being pursued are new to the market, they’re new to our OEM customers, and they’re not something that the ODMs are used to sourcing. So building a supply chain that will support large growth in Ultrabooks as that platform becomes well accepted is a critical supply chain activity.

And then, of course, tablets and phones. We’re working closely with the Intel Mobile and Communications Group to support any needs they have. There’s a lot of overlap today in terms of the components and the assembly test activity that needs to be done to support those businesses as well.

Jackie Sturm leads Intel Supply Chain

"In these new businesses (tablets and phones) it's a whole different set of components and supplies. We're trying to bring things in with new functionality at both low cost and high performance," said Sturm.

Do the smartphone and tablet industries bring surprises to the supply chain?

Not surprises, but I think it reminds us that we had in the PC space a very stable, well-understood, well-defined set of customer/supplier/ODM relationships. Everybody knew what the role of the ODM was and they had built their own supply chains and were able to go build parts on very quick notice because they had the ongoing relationships.

In these new businesses it’s a whole different set of components and supplies. We’re trying to bring things in with new functionality at both low cost and high performance. And all of those things mean that you’ll be in more of an unsettled environment.

We’ve had the luxury of that well-defined environment and right now we’re having to sort of rebuild. But you’re rebuilding while you’re defining where the industry is going to go.

You worked at Apple in finance for 7 years. What did you learn there?

Value and success are in the eyes of the customer. And that doesn’t mean that they tell you what it is, because sometimes they don’t know.

At Apple they try to really just step back and look at: How does a customer behave? What is it that they’re looking for? What are the ways in which they live their lives? What would make their lives better?

Besides Apple, you also worked at HP in finance for 4 years. Did either of those companies influence your management style at Intel?

I also worked in a startup where I learned action orientation and where everything I did made a difference. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. So I’m very oriented toward action: what are the things that we can concretely do to make a difference, and do so quickly?

I like to see speed and really concrete plans to make progress. As a manager, I think I stretch people. I think I’m fairly collaborative. You know, I’m very willing to listen and I learn a lot from my organization, many of whom have been in supply chain roles for their entire career. So there’s a lot for me to learn.

And I do try to stretch the organization to think about what is the strategic intent of what we’re doing? What are we trying to achieve? Not what is it we’re doing, but what is the goal that we’re trying to achieve, and then what are the best ways that we could make that happen?

The Woman Who Keeps Intel’s Supply Chain Humming

One on one with Jackie Sturm, general manager of Intel global sourcing and procurement.

Intel VP Jackie Sturm oversees supply chain

"At Intel, the supply chain is a competitive advantage because it allows us to continue to operate the company despite perturbations that might be going on from natural disasters or other issues," said Jackie Sturm, vice president of the Technology and Manufacturing Group and general manager of Global Sourcing and Procurement at Intel.

Earthquakes, floods, bankruptcies and even wars pose a constant threat to any corporate supply chain. The resilience to adapt to rapidly changing conditions is critical to keeping companies running at full steam. At Intel, that need for resilience extends across more than 10,000 suppliers that provide everything from silicon wafers for chip manufacturing to coffee cups in the campus cafes, and all of this under the watchful gaze of one woman.

Jackie Sturm oversees Intel’s multi-billion-dollar Intel supply chain. She leads a group of more than 1,000 people who anticipate and respond to disruptions and negotiate contracts with players across the entire Intel supply chain, from healthcare and IT providers to substrate suppliers. Sturm, vice president of the Technology and Manufacturing Group and general manager of Global Sourcing and Procurement, joined Intel in 1993. Over her Intel career she has also held positions within the Intel Communications Group, NAND Systems Group and Intel Capital. Prior to joining Intel, she worked for HP, Ridge, a RISC startup and Apple.

Sturm, who also heads Intel’s Supply Chain Environmental and Social Governance program, recently spoke about important lessons from Apple’s supply chain practices, Intel’s efforts to avoid conflict minerals and responding rapidly to natural disasters.

Your organization constantly deals with disasters, strikes and shortages that threaten the supply chain. What’s an example of how your organization has dealt with an unexpected event?

Probably the biggest one that I really had to jump into was the Japan earthquake almost 2 years ago. But that one still really resonates because I was in Narita Airport (in Japan) when the earthquake struck and as soon as I could get a text out I sent it to my silicon guy saying, “Let’s make sure we’ve locked in our silicon supply.” And at the time that the earthquake hit, about 45 percent of the world’s Epi silicon was affected because of where it was.

Within hours we were able to get our silicon requirements in place. And we ultimately wound up supporting a couple of our other co-travelers out in the industry who needed silicon and couldn’t get at it.

Jackie Sturm Intel VP oversees global supply chain

"As the Ultrabook continues to evolve, a lot of the materials that are being pursued are new to the market," said Sturm.

Earlier this year, Intel was ranked No. 5 on Gartner Group’s annual Supply Chain Top 25. Which other companies have excellent supply chains?

Companies like McDonald’s, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Cisco represent some of the best. At Intel, the supply chain is a competitive advantage because it allows us to continue to operate the company despite perturbations that might be going on from natural disasters or other issues. And it allows us to provide predictable expectations to our customers and predictable financial results for our shareholders.

We want to ensure that the total solution that we deliver meets the five parameters of cost, quality, availability, technology and environmental and social governance.

Intel makes efforts to not use any conflict minerals in its products. What’s been the biggest success so far with conflict minerals?

We said by the end of 2012 we want every CPU that we ship to have no conflict tantalum in it. And we achieved that goal by mid-February 2012.

Every bit of tantalum that our suppliers buy, as raw material to our products, is certified as free from conflict. This year we’re going to triple that goal and achieve conflict-free for tungsten, tin and gold.

What are the critical issues supply chain issues this year?

Ultrabook. In particular, do our OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ODMs (original device manufacturers) have access to the components and parts that will be needed to assemble a high-performance, very high-functioning Ultrabook at the right cost?

As the Ultrabook continues to evolve, a lot of the materials that are being pursued are new to the market, they’re new to our OEM customers, and they’re not something that the ODMs are used to sourcing. So building a supply chain that will support large growth in Ultrabooks as that platform becomes well accepted is a critical supply chain activity.

And then, of course, tablets and phones. We’re working closely with the Intel Mobile and Communications Group to support any needs they have. There’s a lot of overlap today in terms of the components and the assembly test activity that needs to be done to support those businesses as well.

Jackie Sturm leads Intel Supply Chain

"In these new businesses (tablets and phones) it's a whole different set of components and supplies. We're trying to bring things in with new functionality at both low cost and high performance," said Sturm.

Do the smartphone and tablet industries bring surprises to the supply chain?

Not surprises, but I think it reminds us that we had in the PC space a very stable, well-understood, well-defined set of customer/supplier/ODM relationships. Everybody knew what the role of the ODM was and they had built their own supply chains and were able to go build parts on very quick notice because they had the ongoing relationships.

In these new businesses it’s a whole different set of components and supplies. We’re trying to bring things in with new functionality at both low cost and high performance. And all of those things mean that you’ll be in more of an unsettled environment.

We’ve had the luxury of that well-defined environment and right now we’re having to sort of rebuild. But you’re rebuilding while you’re defining where the industry is going to go.

You worked at Apple in finance for 7 years. What did you learn there?

Value and success are in the eyes of the customer. And that doesn’t mean that they tell you what it is, because sometimes they don’t know.

At Apple they try to really just step back and look at: How does a customer behave? What is it that they’re looking for? What are the ways in which they live their lives? What would make their lives better?

Besides Apple, you also worked at HP in finance for 4 years. Did either of those companies influence your management style at Intel?

I also worked in a startup where I learned action orientation and where everything I did made a difference. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. So I’m very oriented toward action: what are the things that we can concretely do to make a difference, and do so quickly?

I like to see speed and really concrete plans to make progress. As a manager, I think I stretch people. I think I’m fairly collaborative. You know, I’m very willing to listen and I learn a lot from my organization, many of whom have been in supply chain roles for their entire career. So there’s a lot for me to learn.

And I do try to stretch the organization to think about what is the strategic intent of what we’re doing? What are we trying to achieve? Not what is it we’re doing, but what is the goal that we’re trying to achieve, and then what are the best ways that we could make that happen?