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Stephen Nickols, Supply Chain Intern, Kimberly–Clark

I am currently a Supply Chain Intern at Kimberly–Clark located in Neenah, Wisconsin. I had the pleasure of working with the RecipeStephenNickols Management Team where I reported to Karla Olson who is the team leader and a Supply Chain Manager on FTS (Forecast to Stock).

One thing Kimberly–Clark does extremely well is utilizing Interns to their full potential. They see the importance of allowing Interns to dive into projects along with daily tasks to use a “Fresh eyes approach” to better the systems of KC. During my internship majority of the time was spent in daily tasks with RMT (Recipe Management Team). RMT is in charge of creating, costing, and maintaining recipes. The recipes include all the information we need to know to create one of our products. It includes the Plant, Raw Materials, Assets, Finished Goods, Amount of product to produce, cost of the product, etc. I would spend about 5 hours per day building and costing recipes. With the other 3-4 hours of each day I would work on projects and process improvements. One of the first projects given to me was to improve the procedures. When I came into RMT many of their procedures were overly complicated and extremely hard to follow along with being really long. I spent about the first 2 weeks re-working these to make them more user friendly. During this time with the help of a co-worker we took 62 pages of procedures down to 26 pages. I really wanted to take these procedures and make them a step by step process to complete a job. I even was able to use these procedures to train two others and hear their feedback of the benefit of a step by step process. Another project I worked on was updating our visibility used to show our workload during our daily meetings. I was able to use my skills in Excel to use functions like conditional formatting and formulas to better express our numbers. I also led a project on our SharePoint website for FTS. SharePoint is a centralized website that KC uses to hold information for each department. This project started with a previous intern that created a new website for FTS and transferred all the information from the old website to the new one. The issue was he left before it could be completed. This is where it was given to me to finish and make sure all of our customers and team members were happy with it. Another big project I was given was dealing with IBDs. This responsibility was also given to me when the previous Intern left. IBDs are given to each shipment from various vendors. The IBD holds information such as the weight of the shipment, # of Bales, Vehicle number, etc. For our mill to accept a shipment the IBD has to match what the Vendor is giving us. This creates a challenge because this information is not automated causing many problems while accepting shipments. During this project I have been involved in process improvements of how we can communicate with our vendors to cut down on the human errors. I suggested using a standardized process to ensure all information is accurate and moving forward in making this automated. All of these projects are extremely correlated to my coursework at UWO. I think the biggest thing that has been related has been seeing first hand the importance of each part of the overall system of Supply Chain. Everything we do at KC we want to implement lean and better our systems as we learned in our coursework. I think the other big correlation between KC and what I have learned at UWO is the importance of communication. Without communication no project would ever get accomplished or be as successful.

I learned so much during this experience. I grew and continue to grow in each of the goals I set in the beginning of the semester. The first goal I had was to learn, understand and execute recipe management daily tasks. ­­­­­­­To express how I have grown in this, I want to share an example. When I started at KC I was given two logs to learn and be in charge of. I am currently doing all 8 logs and even leading some morning meetings. I have become just another part of the team instead of only being an Intern. Another example of this improvement includes being able to train other team members on the logs. I already trained two and will be training two more in January as I hand it off to the next Intern and new co-worker. The second goal I gave myself was to provide aid for process improvement utilizing “fresh eye” approach. As I shared my projects and work above I expressed my involvement in process improvement. These things include improving procedures, improved our morning visibility, and even using some macros on Excel to gain data on our processes. The Third goal I gave myself was to provide continuous improvement for projects assigned by RMT coordinator, Team Lead, others. I also shared some of the improvements that were given to me by my superiors such as the SharePoint project and the IBD project. The final goal was to seek Career paths throughout the KC organizations along with getting an understanding of how leadership accumulated their experience. I am always looking for opportunities to talk with full time employees. I completed a total of 6 job shadows ranging from Procurement to Customer Solutions. I also attended many other networking shops and diversity seminars. I think overall the most improved skill I obtained during this experience was my communication skills. I learned the importance of not getting comfortable in a job because movement and gaining experiences is what makes you valuable.

My future plans are extremely up in the air at this point. I thought this experience gave me an understanding of what a large corporate job would include. I think corporations like Kimberly – Clark have a ton of benefits but also several downsides. This was a step toward my career but I don’t know if it’s exactly where I want be for the long haul. I think I would prefer working for a non-profit or even starting my own non-profit. I still want to finish my degree in Supply Chain as it’s an extremely important. The core ideas of process improvements and providing efficiencies are key for even business. As of now I am planning on experiencing the other side of my passion which is working for either a non-profit or a smaller business. I want to diversify myself so that I can make an educated decision for when I graduate college. Right now I am planning on accepting an internship in Alaska with a Christian camp where I can utilize what I have learned in school and my experiences with KC.

Like I stated above I think every class I took prepared me in some way for Kimberly –Clark. Even classes like Accounting and Finance gave me an understanding of the overall system of KC and how each part influences the other. I think some of the classes that helped me the most in this internship have been Information Systems, any class that included Excel, and all Supply Chain courses. I used SAP every day which we discussed and had some practice with in Information Systems. I also used Excel everyday and had to utilize my skills in training others in different ways. Lastly, all of the Supply Chain courses gave me an understanding of what to be looking for while I step into process improvements. In those classes we learned a new way of looking at information that allows me to problem solve in an innovative way.

 As of now I wouldn’t have any recommendations for our academic department as I feel they are doing an exceptional job of training and preparing us for our careers.