Very few people can say they have spent pretty much their entire career at the same company, but one man who can is Patrik Jansson, vice president and head of supply chain operations at Sony Ericsson, the global provider of mobile multimedia devices.
The company was established in 2001 as a joint venture between Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson and Japanese electronics giant Sony Corporation and is owned equally by both.
Jansson started his career at Ericsson as an engineer, before moving into customer service and up to management level where he stayed for a number of years. He then entered the supply chain arena where over the past decade he has worked in all areas from manufacturing and distribution to sourcing and planning, prior to taking up his current role three years ago.
“It’s quite boring when you think about it,” he quips, “to have been at the same company for so much of my career,” but the plus side is he knows the company, and wider market, inside and out. Jansson’s time at Ericsson, and more recently Sony Ericsson, has been anything but boring though. He has spent the majority of his working life in the US, but is currently based back in Sweden. He still moves around a lot though and prior to the slump in the economy was travelling to various far-flung destinations every other week.
Since 2002/03 the company has been going through a stringent improvement programme, which as head of supply chain Jansson has played a significant role in. It has required “different focus at different times,” he confides, but the company has successfully achieved what it set out to do.
Jansson says they began the overhaul by looking more closely at supply chain strategy and the company’s manufacturing footprint before moving on to planning, procurement, integration and supply chain execution, what he refers to as “the back end of the supply chain”. After that the company looked at centralising its procurement logistics and in 2006 opened a central logistics hub in Hong Kong.
The turnaround has resulted in the company becoming one of the most profitable in the industry and is now rated in the AMR Research Supply Chain Top 25, going straight in at number 16. The idea of the list is to identify companies that show leadership in employing demand-driven principles to their global supply chains and includes other big names such as Apple, Nokia, Dell, Procter & Gamble and IBM, who hold the top five spots respectively.
Sony Ericsson is currently entering the fourth stage of its supply chain improvement programme, but times are becoming increasingly tough, something which is echoed across the mobile phone market as a whole. “We have gone from growing seven to 15 and even 20 per cent a year, to a situation where we’re now looking to decrease the total market,” says Jansson. “That is the biggest hurdle right now, how to manage that.”
The way the company operates its supply chain is therefore having to change accordingly. “To a large extent we have seen supply-driven supply chains for a long time, but now with a decreasing market it is totally demand- driven,” he says.
Sony Ericsson is expecting times to remain challenging and will be releasing its official 2009 estimates when it reports its end of year earnings, which were due to be published mid-January.
Next month Jansson will be sharing his knowledge and experience at Extended Supply Chain 2009, the industry renowned event which takes place at the Sofitel Heathrow in London on 24th and 25th March. The annual conference is designed to help companies leverage partnerships and learn about the latest technology to improve the speed, accuracy and profitability of responding to customer demand.
“I will be focusing on the supply chain evolution we are going through,” says Jansson, whose talk will uncover how companies can efficiently support today’s customer in such trying times.
He will look at the mobile phone industry as a whole, but will concentrate in particular on Sony Ericsson, discussing a number of topics including how to set up a supply chain to support a global business, customer requirements, and business-to-business interfaces in the supply chain. Without giving too much away he adds: “I will talk about the history, as well as looking forward to what we might expect in the future.”