#66: Sami Naffakh EVP and COO of Arla Foods

#66: Sami Naffakh EVP and COO of Arla Foods Featured Image

Sami Naffakh is the EVP and Chief Operations Officer at Arla Foods.

Arla is the farmer-owned dairy cooperative with some 11,200 farmers in seven countries, has a unique impact on strategy: Arla has to deal with the 14 billion liters of milk produced by its farmers annually regardless of price or demand and is the fourth largest dairy company in the world with respect to milk volume

Sami Naffakh joined Arla Foods in January 2018.

Leading a team of 13,000 colleagues based across more than 70 dairies, 120 distribution centers, and operations in five continents. Responsibilities include Arla’s manufacturing and logistics operations worldwide, global procurement of goods and services as well as support functions like quality and food safety, health and safety and sustainability.

Sami has worked for some 25 years in FMCG and has held leadership roles within businesses such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Danone, and Estee Lauder.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.


Connect with the Guests:

Sami Naffakh: Linkedin

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How Arla deals with 14 million liters of milk per day
  • How to plan a Mozzarella plant investment of almost EUR 90 million
  • Running 75 plants and 120 distribution centres
  • Manama plant producing 25,000 tons of dairy products
  • Why Arla has a strong market presence in the Middle East
  • “It’s not very effective to have a leader running in front and then no one is behind him.”

Show notes:

  • [01:29] Tell us about your career in the supply chain.
  • [02:57] The more you practice and the more you learn from past mistakes, the better you get at it.
  • [03:21] Tell us a little bit about the scale of complexity of that supply chain- dealing with 14 million liters of milk per day.
  • [03:51] We are obliged to take every drop of milk, which is produced by every farmer on a daily basis. We have to make the best and create the most value out of it.
  • [04:43] There are about 75 plants, 60 of them are in Europe and the rest are in our international markets and we have about 120 distribution centers.
  • [05:40] What are some of the challenges that come with not controlling the demand? How do you navigate it?
  • [08:13] Can you share some case studies in terms of excellence and efficiency in your supply chain?
  • [09:57] We had to create an architecture of IoT where we could get information on the points where we were wasting and create an infrastructure to collect and analyze data to drive action.
  • [11:36] How did you inculcate that culture of ownership and responsibility in Arla?
  • [12:48] We had to change a bit of a mindset in our operations, where the people in the line or in the warehouse shop floor are not there to serve others to achieve their objective, it is the other way around.
  • [16:36] You had a big investment in a Mozzarella plant, it is close to 90 Million. What’s the long term strategy? Why is it important for Arla?
  • [19:42] When you do a massive relocation, what are some of the biggest challenges that you need to take into account to make it successful?
  • [22:52] The plant in Manama currently produced about 25, 000 tons and it is going to get 200, 000 in the next four years.
  • [24:06] Why do you have such a strong share of the market in the Middle East and Africa Region?
  • [26:18] You mentioned two points, one is increasing visibility and the other a better alignment between applying demand. Did you use certain tech innovations in particular that helped you get to those two points better?
  • [29:55] How is that e-commerce channel affecting Arla?
  • [31:37] Are there certain principles that you follow when you’re choosing, selecting, and retaining talent in your leadership teams?
  • [32:31] Mindset to me is very important because this is what’s going to drive the rest of the work.
  • [33:05] It’s not very effective to have a leader running in front and then no one is behind him.
  • [35:41] Are there certain principles that you follow to help you navigate to a new company to form a new team, adapt and make it successful?
  • [37:17] Take the time to understand what you can leverage and what is the past stuff that you can play with and what is the new stuff that you have to adapt to and learn.
  • [37:31] What would be pieces of advice that you found most useful to you from your mentors that you followed?
  • [38:38] You have to constantly learn and adapt to this new reality and you have to have the willingness and the mental agility to do so.

Quote from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

Episode #37: Dhruv Saxena CEO of ShipBob

Episode #45: Paul Graham Chief Supply Chain Officer of Woolworths Group

Episode #65: Sustainability in Supply Chains




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