Alexander Streif is the Vice President for Supply Chain Management at Northvolt.
Northvolt is a Swedish battery manufacturer and developer specializing in lithium technology for electric vehicles. They’re also very much focused on manufacturing with clean energy with a clear mission to deliver batteries with an 80% low carbon footprint compared to those made using coal energy. Alexander has been a long-standing professional in supply chain and has done a multitude of roles has worked in Semicon for many, many years, then he joined Siemens, then he had about six years also with McKinsey on their operations practice. In the last two years, he’s been with Northvolt.
Listen to the full discussion here:
Connect with the Guest:
Alexander Streif: LinkedIn
Some of the highlights from the podcast:
- Inflection points in Alexander’s career- understanding how important data is and prioritizing family
- How to set up the supply chain in a hyper-scaling environment
- How to grow from a few hundred to thousands of employees in a short time span
- Northvolt’s mission and prioritizing supply chain
- Factors in attracting good talents and career advice
- [01:00] Maybe starting a little bit now with your career. How did you end up in supply chain in the first place?
- [02:37] Looking back, what were one or two inflection points in your career?
- [03:10] My first inflection point was when I understood how powerful data could be. This helped me a little bit throughout my entire career. Data-driven fact-based decision-making is a very powerful means of making the right decision.
- [05:26] You could always look into what you’re doing and try to find out what’s next and what could come out of that role next. And that makes you less dependent on others bringing you opportunities because you’re creating opportunities yourself,
- [07:47] Maybe talk to us a little bit about your journey in the last two years. What are you most proud of in setting and growing the supply chain organization in Northvolt?
- [11:34] We are building a lot of processes and tools into the organization, which will also be kind of a prerequisite, not only to meet the requirements of going public but also to meet our ability to scale.
- [13:19] Don’t preempt discussions, be open and try to listen to the people very carefully. Try to differentiate organizational or structural feedback from individual emotions and agendas and then make up your mind on how you would proceed.
- [15:04] What are some of the lessons you had in terms of how to constantly adapt and move the pieces within the organization?
- [16:20] The most important thing we need to do is to start delegating, start empowering, and letting people drive what they want to drive, but be there whenever you are needed. This is my leadership mantra and I think that it is also part of the success story.
- [17:44] What are some of the principles that go into your mind as the VP of supply chain when you’re considering other options for future facilities and setting up your supply chain design?
- [18:08] If an industry is predominant in a specific geography, that means that the entire supply chain is also predominant in that geography.
- [20:46] We systematically scan the market and looked at where players in the equipment industry market are and also looked for possible industries that are on a declining trend. This way, we increase the possibility of potential suppliers investing in something new.
- [22:13] It’s very important to build partnerships and it starts with trust and it needs a lot of energy drive. In every partnership, you will have periods of excitement, but there are also periods of pain. But the most important thing is having that mindset of togetherness. These are all relationships you need to develop and you need to make successful.
- [23:36] How do you de-risk or plan for the impact of geopolitical factors, such as control over raw materials and investments by countries like China, in industries such as battery production, while also maintaining trust-based partnerships with their supply chain ecosystem?
- [25:06] Having a proper understanding of what our demand is, but also what the industry’s demand is and where the capacities are developing is a very good starting point.
- [27:57] What kind of cross industries skills do you look for and how do you also groom them to be capable to support the type of growth you need?
- [30:44] The company’s ability to attract and retain good talent is due to the combination of the following aspects; recruiting from its own talent team, investing in due diligence and processes, and having an attractive brand with a big purpose, particularly appealing to the younger generations.
- [32:51] What would be one piece of advice that you will give to young professionals for for a long and successful career?
- [35:10] Try things. Fish right here and there. A lot of careers typically go only up, it is only in one direction, but there are some more other things to grow. I believe we need to push more of this kind of expiratory type of career as well.
Quotes from the Episode:
Soundbite from the Episode:
#136: Vision of Customer-Centricity in Supply Chain
#137: How to have more CEOs from Supply Chain