Benoit Roullet — Interview Supply Chain Passion

picture by Benoit Roullet : Interview Supply Chain Passion

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:

  • trans­porta­tion,
  • 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?

the duck on water : calm on the surface to plan and agitated under water to adapt in the supply chain

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.