For those who don’t know, what does ‘a Supply Chain person’ do?

Supply Chain professionals oversee the flow and end-to-end delivery of goods and services within a business. That could be anything from raw materials and consumables, to services and overhauls. Put another way, Supply Chain people look after aspects of logistics, inventory management, supplier relationship management, and procurement processes. Supply Chain professionals will often work with a wide range of people across a business to support their diverse customers and deliver value.

So why are Supply Chain people important?

Some people think Supply Chain just ‘buys stuff’. It’s true that everything on a project is bought through Supply Chain. However we add a lot more value than this (sometimes behind the scenes). We’re ‘enablers’, and link into all areas of a business.
A Supply Chain professional’s mantra is the five ‘rights’ of procurement: The right quality, in the right quantity, at the right time, in the right place, at the right price.

Ok. So what does a Supply Chain person do in your part of BAE Systems?

I work in Warship Support – the part of BAE Systems that maintains and upgrades the majority of the ships in the Royal Navy flotilla.
Warship Support’s biggest priority is ensuring high availability of the Royal Navy’s ships, so they can deploy to sea as needed to complete their tasking.
My role involves negotiating and agreeing the right contracts with the right suppliers, through effective supplier selection and relationship management to enable the successful delivery of ship requirements within agreed schedules. This all needs to be done while complying with international laws and regulations, including export controls, and navigating global supply chain challenges.

How much emphasis does BAE Systems put on Supply Chain?

As a company that is very logistics-focused, and which deals with a huge and complicated web of moving goods at all times, BAE Systems puts an enormous emphasis on Supply Chain. BAE Systems understands that without a risk-mitigating, professional Supply Chain that can ensure continuity of supply, keeping our promises to our customers would be difficult.
Our Supply Chain teams are kept pretty lean, to ensure maximum return to the taxpayer. However, we have a capability, maturity, and level of access to the business that would be the envy of many much larger Supply Chain teams in other companies. 

What kind of vessels do you work with?

Generally, Supply Chain in BAE Systems’ maritime businesses help procure goods and services for everything from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, to Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates, minehunters and other vessels. My colleagues in other areas of the business do the same for aircraft, submarines, tanks, satellites and many more things.
Usually, Supply Chain people will be more focused on a particular type of vessel than others, having an affinity for the product, ship and ship’s staff, fostering a proud culture.
I personally support and manage the maintenance of the Royal Navy’s eight Offshore Patrol Vessels – a very specific type of medium-sized, agile craft deployed around the world to represent British interests and safeguard certain areas.

Can you give us an example of the work you do?

Periodically these Offshore Patrol Vessels enter one of our owned or ‘partnered’ shipyards around the world for maintenance, repairs, upkeeps, or upgrades. I, along with my team, collaborate internally and externally to procure and deliver the materials, parts, and services required to enable this, wherever in the world it may be needed - whether that be in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the South Atlantic or the Indo-Pacific region.

You order parts on a global scale? That sounds complicated.

If it was easy everyone would do it. But then, BAE Systems is uniquely qualified to effectively and efficiently handle this global deployment of goods and services on behalf of the OPVs (and other vessel types). As well as operating on a global level, our enterprise knowledge and heritage is also second-to-none. We’ve also worked on the OPVs for about twenty years, and actually built most of them in the first place.
We frequently deploy employees and contractors to maintain OPVs wherever operationally required. This provides an additional avenue for our employees to feed back to Supply Chain on the ship’ material state, informing our future strategy.
BAE Systems’ Supply Chain also benefits from working within something known as a Class Cell, a collaboration between BAE Systems, the Royal Navy, and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) to share knowledge between the different OPVs in the flotilla and improve ship availability. This reinforces our ‘one team, one ethos’ approach and culture.
Perhaps most importantly of all, everyone across BAE Systems Maritime Services, including myself, takes enormous pride in their work and supporting the Royal Navy. That pride helps drive me to do the best job I can as a Supply Chain Manager every day.

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Courtney Story

Supply Chain Manager, Warship Support