Creating New Supply Chain Strategies: Meet Cathy Luoma
When it comes to sourcing, Cathy Luoma has seen—and purchased—it all. Working for industries ranging from heavy manufacturing to insurance, her entire career has focused on supply chain and materials management.
In April 2021, she joined our team to mature our procurement and inventory management principles and take CEC from a decentralized model to a center-led procurement model. This shift provides valuable insights into purchasing behavior, maximizes savings, and supports stronger supplier relationships.
She also relishes change, which is vital as she leads the charge to improve our supply chain strategies and efficiently and effectively maximize the value from our supply base.
At the end of the day, no matter what type of sourcing or procurement activities she’s focused on, she knows it all comes down to people. “Everything we do on this planet is for the people who live on it,” Luoma says. “Business is done through people—people aren’t done through business. I’m passionate about driving performance and empowering individuals to grow by getting them out of their comfort zones and developing.”
Meet CEC’s Director of Procurement and Inventory Management Cathy Luoma!
Q: What makes you most excited about working at CEC?
This is a new role for CEC: strategic sourcing and managing supply chains. I’m energized by thinking through how to create the “machine” with different disciplinary cogs—from marketing to sales to engineering, project management, customer success, and finance departments—and make it work and function as efficiently and effectively as possible to serve our customers and help CEC and our suppliers thrive.
I’m excited to build something new and help develop people. Opportunities abound for CEC due to our new exploration of both ends of the supply chain: from customers to suppliers. We have a huge opportunity to learn and grow. Roles are going to change to align with employees’ skills and talents and to broaden their horizons. In other words, we’re “getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats” like the book Good to Great recommends!
Q: How does a typical day play out for you at CEC? What are you responsible for?
I’ve been doing a lot of learning, asking questions, and meeting the CEC family. Everyone has been very welcoming, helpful, and knowledgeable—and they have great senses of humor. They work hard, laugh, and have fun.
I’m now doing everything I can to help solve problems for our internal and external customers. CEC has valuable resources, and we want to make sure we’re optimizing those skills and talents while solving challenging business issues. Every day, I’m learning more about CEC systems and processes, and I’m getting to know the aspirations of my team and what makes them tick.
Q: What does the next year have in store for you in terms of plans and goals?
I’m already putting together a strategy that covers procurement’s role and how it will impact the organization. Once we build a solid foundation for procurement, I’ll be working on putting policies and processes into place to further efficiencies. From there, we’ll look at automation. How can we automate processes so our people can do everything we—and our customers—want and need? We’ll also be looking at building long-term relationships with suppliers. All these changes will positively impact our customers and partners by making it easier to do business with CEC.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
When I’m not doing laundry or cooking for my college-aged stepson, Rob, I’m usually reading everything from supply chain journals to mindless novels. My husband Tim and I love to travel. We’re looking forward to our “COVID-19-postponed” trips to Bali, Iceland, Alaska, and Europe.
I’m a 21-year ski patroller and recruited Tim to the volunteer activity with me. Within the patrol, I’m a training instructor, and I facilitate those learning sessions when the snow isn’t flying. My husband and I are snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. In the summer, we like to bike, rollerblade, and drink wine. Last but not least, our Balinese cat, Lela, provides us with many hours of fun and entertainment.
Q: What’s a fun/interesting fact about you that most people don’t know?
I play piano on my mother’s 1930s piano (which has real ivory keys).
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