Supply Chain News: Winner of Top Procurement Award Shares His Advice for Success

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He added that "My vision has always been to build an extraordinary supply base, picking the very best suppliers upfront, and then making them better for us through a disciplined supplier performance management process."

As with it seems most Shipman award winners, Holcomb has long had a focus on developing internal talent as well.

"My secret is surrounding myself with people who are exceptionally good at what they do," he says. "I goal them up and get out of their way. My job then becomes providing air cover - something that comes from my years in the Air Force. I then deal with the other executives, departments and budgets so my people don't get bogged down in such things as office politics."

Perhaps surprisingly for a man with several engineering-related degrees, when considering candidates for supply management positions, Holcomb starts with an evaluation of the softer side.

"The first thing I look for is whether he or she is a nice person. I ask, ‘Is this a person I would enjoy working with? Would my team enjoy working with him or her?' It's hard to put a definition around it, but you know it almost immediately," he says

And like a lot of great leaders, Holcomb's approach has generated loyalty among his team members.

"I pick the best of the best people and they stick with me. Some have been with me at two or even three companies," he adds. "There are directors, vice presidents and senior vice presidents who have all come through my door."

From SCDigest's perspective, it's always nice to see the good guys win.

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