Benoit Roullet, Director of maintenance and global logistics of the RIMAP-NC within the French Army, takes part in the Supply Chain Passion interview.
His unique international experience within the military where Supply Chain is a key factor of the organization is revealed to us.
Benoit gives us a glimpse into the challenges, opportunities and world of military supply chain.
Interview Supply Chain Passion
Benoit, we would like to know a little more about you and your current position as Director of Maintenance and Global Logistics for the Army
I am 39 years old, married with 2 children. Most of my career has been spent in the Ministry of the Armed Forces, after a university course in mechanical production.
I started in very operational managerial jobs before turning to the logistics speciality which, in terms of vocabulary within the armed forces, is similar to the civilian supply chain.
Indeed, military logistics includes:
- storage and tracking of resources,
- the budget and purchasing part,
- transit and customs operations,
- and even the administration and medical part!
In the course of my career, I have held the positions of Logistics Unit Manager, Logistics Manager and, finally, currently Maintenance and Logistics Manager. This is a Supply Chain Manager position with the added bonus of industrial production within maintenance workshops. This is a very broad and comprehensive position that manages the upstream and downstream supply chain, from the mainland and in an island environment, which multiplies transit operations. I hold this position in New Caledonia.
This is my second expatriation experience with my family after a first experience in Africa in Djibouti.
How did you experience those first months of confinement in 2020?
Paradoxically, while COVID has hit the world economy hard, in New Caledonia we have remained “COVID free” for a very long time with no traffic constraints on the island. However, in order to maintain this status from the beginning of the pandemic, the island’s borders were closed. It has been a real challenge to maintain the logistic flows in these conditions. Especially since every 4 months, we renew our staff to the tune of 300 employees!
What are the prospects in terms of the Army’s Supply Chain?
As the civil supply chain, the prospects are very interesting and the challenges numerous. It is a strategic tool of superiority which, with the increase in flows and their speed, is becoming more and more efficient both operationally and financially.
First of all, the Army’s supply chain must by nature be resilient, and we have real expertise in this area, which was particularly useful during COVID.
In addition, it continues to digitize to increase its performance and agility with management software: TMS,
etc. and data processing. These are major structuring projects because there are aspects of continuity with our operations and confidentiality of this data obviously.
Lastly, the contribution of new technologies are all projects that increase performance, such as 3D printing, which reduces supply times and the types of references to be stored in the warehouse.
Benoit, which job did you dream of when you were a child?
I wanted to be a military man and I succeeded. The passion for supply chain came later when I discovered military logistics.
Tell us about your background and professional experiences?
My background is quite classical. After a Universitary Diploma of Technologie (Diplôme universitaire de technologie) and a degree in mechanical production, I entered an Army officer school to learn my future job as a manager in the Ministry of the Army.
My first experience was commanding a section of 40 employees at the age of 23 for 5 years. I had the opportunity to be deployed with my teams in the Republic of Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
Afterwards, I moved on to logistics positions as a Unit Assistant and then Unit Manager. I lived my first expatriation in Africa for 2 years before specializing in supply chain and occupying positions of less operational and more strategic scope.
I had the opportunity to become the Operational Logistics Director of a brigade that includes 10 trainings. This allowed me to discover cross-functional planning on S&OP type processes with the operation and forecasting part.
During this period, I was also able to go back to Lebanon incoporated in the civilian part of the UN operation where I was conducting logistical audits on the different deployed contingents. This experience in an international organization was also very enriching. During this 6‑month period, I prepared and presented a Master’s degree in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management, which I obtained.
Finally, I currently hold the position of Director of Maintenance and Logistics, which gives me the full benefit of a supply chain management (planning, customs, transit, storage, transport, fleet management and purchasing) at the farthest reaches of the world, more than 17,000 km from the mainland. This position is all the more rewarding. Indeed, in addition to the supply chain, I also manage mechanical production workshops.
What was the trigger or experience that led you to become interested in Supply Chain?
When I was assigned to a logistics unit at the end of the 2000s, I discovered that military logistics had not yet caught up with the technical and technological developments in the civilian world. There was a lot to do and I was convinced that this was a strategic role.
Driven by the civilian supply chain and its performance, the last decade has seen logistics transform to enter the 21st century.
Your biggest challenge?
Transforming the supply chain and making it more efficient, here in the Pacific.
What is your best memory?
I have a lot of those, but I have more memories of camaraderie in operations early in my career. These were very strong human management experiences!
What are the essential qualities for your job?
- First, you have to understand how the other services work and what they need: supply is at their service. It is essential and one must be curious
- The second quality is the ability to plan for the long term and to plan deadlines, while constantly readjusting according to external constraints
- The third quality is the ability to adapt. The supply chain must be resilient and if you have to plan for the long term you have to adapt in the short term. And for that, you need a certain agility to make pragmatic and implementable decisions
- The last one is the ability to convince. Whether it is ones bosses but also his collaborators. The goal and the road to get there must be clear and understood by all. Our organizations are constantly changing and it is essential to be able to convince in order to transform.
If you could describe your job in one image?
I like the image of the duckon the water. If it looks very calm on the surface and well under water, it is agitated to move forward.
The quiet side is seeing far ahead and planning. The restless side is knowing how to constantly adapt and move forward to achieve the objectives.
What are the difficulties related to the nature of your job?
The main difficulty is to have a permanent cross-functional approach to both the sharing of information and the collection of information. And this in a short time to make the best decision.
The challenges of the Supply Chain are exciting. If you had to convince students to be interested in the Supply Chain business, what would you tell them?
I would indeed tell them that Supply Chain is exciting because :
- The transverse approach by nature allows to have a high vision of the company and to understand the financial, material, human and organizational stakes,
- New technologies give it a second wind, making it a function at the forefront of innovation and change: there is no strategic plan today that does not mention the supply chain,
- There is still a lot to be done and everyone can make a contribution.
Thank you Benoit for participating in the Passion Supply Chain interview.
About RIMAP-NC Army
TheArmyregroups 130,000 men and women who practice a single profession: soldiers among more than 100 specialties: aeronautical mechanic, artilleryman, tank commander, computer developer, patrol leader, secretary, analyst, cybersecurity specialist, site manager, assistant financial controller, etc. There are 20,000 soldiers permanently deployed in operations abroad or in France.