Behind the scenes: becoming an S&OP consultant at Solventure

Feb 11, 2021 11:06:12 AM

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Hannes Laureys, and I recently joined the young and innovative Solventure team. “How did you end up in this wonderful company?”, you may ask. Well, let me first briefly sketch my background, to better understand the journey that led me to Solventure. After finishing high school, I made the decision to pursue an engineering education. I enrolled for the engineering technology study with a focus on electromechanics. After obtaining this degree, my educational drive was not yet fulfilled. It’s for this reason that I made the choice to pursue an additional degree in engineering, more precisely the master in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of Ghent. During these academic years, I discovered my interests for Supply Chain and Operations research. This subject has the great quality that while it is quite technical, the link to the practical side is never far away. Because of this I was immediately sold and I knew that I wanted to dedicate my professional career on S&OP.

Why Solventure

So how did I end up at Solventure? During my masters in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Solventure introduced itself several times through company presentations and job fairs. I remember that each time I met Solventure, I always got the same positive vibe and was thinking how wonderful it would be to be part of that team. As my academic career progressed, the time came to choose a subject for my master’s dissertation, the grand finale of my education. While searching the available subjects, I came across a subject published by Solventure. I did not hesitate and dove in headfirst. That’s when I really got to know Solventure and the people behind it. It’s a company that is built by people that are all very talented in their own subject. Being part of such a team is the best career move one can make. So when the time came of applying for a job, my first choice was clearly already made. I sent my application and after a thorough application process, I got the good news that Solventure would like me to come aboard the team, the start of what I believe to be a wonderful journey.

My first months

Covid-19 testing project

My onboarding schedule started in April 2020. As you may suspect, this was indeed mid full Covid-19 period. This immediately leads me to my first project at Solventure. It consisted of creating a tool that would be used by the different parties involved in the Covid-19 testing. As one can easily see, this project was without a doubt one with impact. The idea behind this project was to create an environment, accessible to each party involved, to work on the planning and forecasting of the Covid-19 tests, which were to be used in the testing strategy of Belgium. I got in touch with each participating party, and I only just started my professional career! After the creation of this tool, my main concern was handling the support towards the different users of the tool. This support consisted out of a lot of interaction with the users and putting my problem solving skills to a good use when needed. Although I just started my professional career, Solventure gave me the opportunity to take up responsibilities. And thanks to the excellent help and guidance I got from my colleagues, I really felt useful during this project and this only after a couple of weeks! This is something which I appreciate about working at Solventure; no colleague will hesitate to support and guide you to broaden your knowledge on several topics.

Linear programming at GB Foods

When the first Covid-19 storm settled down and less testing needed to be done, I was assigned to a new project, while still monitoring the support on the Covid-19 project. This new project involved the creation of a linear programming (LP) model that would be used to calculate a MPS supply plan for the French department of the food products manufacturer GB Foods. I was immediately hyped for this assignment. Because during my academic years, I was always fascinated by linear programming models and now I would finally apply the concept on a real practical case! This project started with thorough discussions with GB Foods on what the actual outcome of the MPS plan should look like. During this process I experienced the practical side of supply chain. I enjoyed the clear explanation of their current way of working. After gathering the required input information on the MPS outcome, it was time for the next step, the actual configuration of the MPS plan. Although I did not make decisions on the configuration, I was always part of the decision making process. Because of this, I really got to know the process of creating an MPS plan. Besides taking part in the configuration process, I was also assigned to documenting. Documenting allowed me to get to know all the data that the MPS plan would need to function properly. Through guidance of a project manager, I got to know the meaning of each data part. In addition to this, I was appointed to train the people at GB Foods that were going to use the MPS plan. In this process, I had to prepare several meetings in which the users and I were going over the MPS plan step by step. In each step questions were asked as well as discussions started. By doing this I was on quite good terms with the customer and really felt like I was making a difference in the project, and that for a rookie who just started his first job! In summary, these first months I had the feeling that Solventure immediately had faith in me and believed in my qualities.

My learning curve

As a naive recently graduated starter, I had the feeling that I already possessed a significant part of knowledge and that my biggest learning period ended when I left my last exam at university. Thanks to Solventure I was hit with a reality check and understood that university was just the beginning of my learning journey.

SQL training

Enhancing your knowledge is an important pillar at Solventure and that is why they really put a lot of effort in the onboarding of new consultants. During my first weeks, I went through a quite intensive training program. It started with insights on S&OP and the Solventure way of working in the S&OP processes. This part consisted out of reading several white papers, written by one of my colleagues, in which a clear view on each S&OP topic was sketched. After this theoretical part, it was time to enhance my programming skills! At Solventure, each consultant should be very confident in using the programming language SQL. During this programming enhancement course, two senior consultants were appointed to me to guide me through a week of SQL exercises. Each day, I had two meetings in which I had a one-on-one coaching session with a senior consultant to learn, test, practice and understand the ins and outs of basic SQL. This all took place during my first two weeks, so after a short period I gained a lot of insights in S&OP and enhanced my programming skills, so that I was ready to go out there and contribute to the company.

First projects

In parallel to the training program, I was appointed to my first project, as previously discussed. Although I was still limited by my skills to really contribute to the project, I was involved in each step. Because of this, I got to learn several soft skills on how meetings with customers are managed and how to efficiently execute tasks. I adopted the way of working of Solventure, challenging yourself and giving everything you’ve got. The fun part about Solventure is that this all happens automatically. Due to the support and energy given by your colleagues, you just want to go for it and you develop that same passion for S&OP that will make each day a fun and challenging day!

In my second project, I was guided deeper in the technical world of S&OP. I learned how an MPS plan is made, how it works and how LP models are used in this process. Each small piece of the process was explained to me in detail, I was continuously learning new things. One day focused more on technical topics, while the other day I was giving training to several people in which I learned to explain myself as clear as possible and tackle problems together with the customer. In summary, an interesting project with a continuously learning experience!

I am sure that I will keep on learning about the wonders of the S&OP world during my Solventure career.

So if you are still searching for a challenging job, search no more! From day one, you are involved in the real process and immediately trusted with several responsibilities while receiving perfect guidance during this journey.

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