NextGen Leader: Marianna Vydrevich

GAF expert in supply chain network design talks about her career path and shares her vision of the industry development

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Editor's note: Supply Chain Management Review's monthly NextGen Leader series profiles supply chain leaders climbing the career ladder to success. The series appears on the fourth Friday of each month. If you know of something that you believe may be a fit, please reach out to Editor in Chief Brian Straight at [email protected].

One of the funniest stories of Marianna Vydrevich's search for a U.S.-based supply chain position was the number of people that saw her resume and thought she lived in Moscow, Idaho. The Russian-born and raised Vydrevich worked to clarify that, but then the assumption was that she was working in Texas, home of global energy company Shell, where she had spent the previous three years working as a logistics analyst in the Lubricants Supply Chain. That job was in Moscow, Russia.

Now based in New Jersey, Vydrevich has settled into a fulfilling career with GAF, North America's largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer. Vydrevich's career has grown from those early days in Moscow to her current position as manager of operations research and network optimization for GAF. She has held a series of supply chain-related positions with the company since she joined as a logistics analyst in 2017.

“One of the great things about supply chain is that what you learned in other parts of the world is very transferable,” Vydrevich tells Supply Chain Management Review. “Sometimes the supply chain function gets a reputation of not being as glamorous as other departments, but it is probably the most global, dynamic and innovative one.”

It's all about solving puzzles

Vydrevich has a Master's Degree in International Business from St. Petersburg State University. But she did not envision a career in the supply chain.

“It was an accident at first, but then I realized that working in supply chain requires a lot of the things I know very well,” she says, noting that her first career choice was software development, “but my math skills had to be significantly higher.”

“With business, and the skills that I had, I realized I could advance quickly in the software world, and I quickly learned that is a big advantage in supply chain,” Vydrevich notes. She landed in network design and optimization.

“In network design, it's all about solving problems,” Vydrevich says. “What I really enjoy is the Aha! moment when the data starts telling you the story. When tens of thousands of data points across tables … become meaningful that you can write on a piece of paper, and this becomes a message. [It] is not just numbers anymore; it is a cohesive message. It's like the universe is talking to me.”

Vydrevich recently penned an article for Logistics Viewpoint where she explains the power of simulation in building a resilient supply chain. In it, she explains that optimization accounts for over 90% of supply chain network design (SCND).

“The first step in the SCND process is translating business rules into a set of data inputs: demand, products, customers, sites, shipment rules, production details, and various constraints. Assumptions around demand are in the center here because, unlike all other main components, they are the most difficult to forecast,” she wrote.

An SCND team works to build a baseline model, and then simulates the problem, looking for optimization opportunities. In that regard, artificial intelligence can play an influential role, but that isn't the biggest trend Vydrevich sees in network design over the next few years.

Best time to be in network design

For that, Vydrevich points to a couple of trends, including the growing importance of supply chain design to “fill in the gaps” in data.

“There is really a mental shift that is happening with people out there … it's a vision, it's how you think,” she says. “I think that COVID helped in that sense because it really pushed people out of their comfort zones. Many things were reassessed because of COVID.”

Vydrevich points to the growth of cloud computing that is now allowing teams to collaborate quickly and remotely. It also enables the building of larger and more granular models that provide more actionable information.

Finally, she points to artificial intelligence. When it comes to AI, Vydrevich sees a significant role, but maybe not the one many people first think of.

“I don't think AI will become a primary or even a secondary decision-maker anytime soon, because we have to solve the problem of accountability,” she says. “AI will become more important as a tool in our repository.”

Vydrevich envisions AI playing a key role in helping people understand the data, something she calls “explainable AI,” and acting as an “intern” that can become a trusted assistant.

“This will [assist] you with the data storytelling,” she says. “That Aha! moment that is actually happening, and [converting] what we are doing into words.”

The years ahead for supply chain network design are promising and Vydrevich is predicting a robust future, in part because of the proliferation of competitive tools to help companies adopt supply chain network design approaches.

“The idea of optimization is becoming more widespread,” Vyrdrevich says. “Stakeholders are more willing to accept that this should be a standard business practice and invest in the [resources to accomplish it].

“The next few years are really going to be the best [period] for supply chain design,” she concludes.

SC
MR

Marianna Vydrevich's supply chain career journey has taken her from Moscow to her current position as manager of operations research and network optimization for GAF. She has held a series of supply chain-related positions with the company since she joined as a logistics analyst in 2017.
Marianna Vydrevich
Marianna Vydrevich's supply chain career journey has taken her from Moscow to her current position as manager of operations research and network optimization for GAF. She has held a series of supply chain-related positions with the company since she joined as a logistics analyst in 2017.
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About the Author

Brian Straight, SCMR Editor in Chief
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Brian Straight is the Editor in Chief of Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered trucking, logistics and the broader supply chain for more than 15 years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children. He can be reached at [email protected], @TruckingTalk, on LinkedIn, or by phone at 774-440-3870.

View Brian's author profile.

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