Supply Chain Social Responsibility

Preparation pays: Corning navigates unprecedented supply chain disruption

Preparation pays: Corning navigates unprecedented supply chain disruption

Cheryl Capps steers her function through chaos and joins Corning’s Senior Leadership Team, 100 most influential women in supply chain, and Top 100 Women Leaders of New York.

A giant cargo ship wedged in the Suez Canal may have been the most theatrical example of a supply chain disruption, gripping the world with its story in 2021. But it was just one of many that Corning and its suppliers faced this year.

Internet memes and pop culture references abounded when the hapless container ship got stuck. What wasn’t immediately clear: the fallout.

Corning watched as an order of optical fiber sat stuck on the ship, but was also buzzing with problem solving fervor to redirect and reschedule 3000 more shipments that were caught behind it.

It takes a village – in Corning’s case, a team of more than 1,500 supply chain experts around the world – to navigate the landscape. People, when paired with carefully crafted processes and tools, helped Corning endure and overcome twelve times the average year’s supply chain disruptions.

The industry noticed.

In 2021, Corning was named the National Business Inclusion Consortium’s “Best of the Best” for the sixth consecutive year, as well as a high achiever in supply chain by the National Association of Manufacturers. And as the year drew to a close, Cheryl Capps, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, was identified as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Supply Chain.

Selected for exceptional performance in areas such as innovation excellence, sustainability, and transformation excellence, Cheryl is among the “supply chain’s most accomplished female executives and next generation leaders.”

Accolades continued to add up as Cheryl was also named to the ?by the Women We Admire organization.

And further recognizing how critical supply chain management continues to be for Corning’s success, the company appointed Cheryl to its Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in January 2022. Corning’s SLT is led by the chief executive officer and together sets vision and action plans for the company.

None of these achievements was a solo effort, Cheryl said. The village that braved an unprecedented year together is behind this and other recognitions Corning has received.

“Throughout 2021, the fact that we’ve been able to keep our factories running and our customers served has been remarkable. That doesn’t come accidentally. It comes through years of developing organizational capabilities, process, technologies, tools, and of course the talent development.” – Cheryl Capps

“Becoming a top influencer in supply chain doesn’t happen by yourself,” Cheryl said. “I have relationships with other supply chain leaders, so I’m present with other top companies in these conversations. Obviously, I wouldn’t have anything to share if the team hadn’t done an exceptional job over the years developing the people, processes, and technology to be best in class.”

Corning’s supply chain group succeeds, Cheryl said, because the company puts the right focus on the right initiatives at the right time.

“Throughout 2021, the fact that we’ve been able to keep our factories running and our customers served has been remarkable,” she said. “That doesn’t come accidentally. It comes through years of developing organizational capabilities, process, technologies, tools, and of course the talent development.”

Supply chain management can be easy to take for granted when all is running smoothly. But Corning used those times of relative predictability to build up skills and resources. The effort paid off in 2021.

“We’ve been working on those things very purposefully and we had those tools and capabilities in place, but we’d never tested them – of course – to the level that we had to test them recently, but they’ve served us really well.”

The possibilities and the impact keep Cheryl – and many supply chain executives – engaged in a field often affected by conditions beyond human control. From an ice storm in Texas upending the resin supply chain to something as simple as the breakdown of a delivery truck, any event can cause a chain reaction.

For Cheryl, the chaos is outweighed by the potential to make a difference. It’s for her function to ensure placed orders, produced product, and promises made are delivered.

“We can create a capability to differentiate us in the marketplace,” Cheryl said of her supply chain teams. “It matters.”

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