Monday, October 9, 2017

Schwan's People You Need to Know

Pankonin talks career growth, continuous improvement and favorite foods

"Schwan's People You Need to Know" is an ongoing series of stories that share some of our employees' experiences as we celebrate our 65th anniversary and participate as a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee

Brad Pankonin, Schwan's Consumer Brands
director of supply chain operations
Oct. 9, 2017 — For 10-year Schwan’s employee Brad Pankonin, the key to growing every day in your career is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“I have grown in my career by forcing myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis and asking a lot of questions,” Brad said. “My belief is that if you act like an owner each day when you are at work, you tend to ask a lot of questions. Those questions turn into conversations that can lead to growth in knowledge of the business and also help you build relationships.”

In 2007, Brad joined Schwan’s Consumer Brands, a subsidiary that sells branded foods in retail outlets, as a member of the finance team. Today, he serves as director of supply chain operations for the business unit, where he is responsible for building plans for meeting the demand for trusted brands such as Red Baron®, Freschetta® and Tony’s® pizza, Pagoda® snacks, and Edwards® and Mrs. Smith’s® desserts.

He recently took some time to tell us about the things he is most proud of at work, some of his favorite foods and the expectations for his favorite football team.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

A: I have a commercial driver’s license, and I used to drive semi trucks and operate bulldozers for a job during the summer months.

Q: Tell us why your job in supply chain operations is one of the most important jobs in the company.

A: My primary job is to ensure that we have an accurate demand forecast by customer and by product group. If the forecast is not accurate, it can either lead to bumming out customers because we can’t fill their orders or having too much inventory that could lead to waste.

Q: Tell us something about your position that people might find interesting.

A: The demand forecast that we work with each day serves as the foundation of our financial forecast and impacts almost every area of the company. It is also closely integrated with finance, sales, marketing and supply chain.

Q: What is your typical day like at Schwan’s?

A: I typically begin the day by reviewing product fill rates to our customers, daily sales reports and checking email for any issues that need immediate attention. I check in with the demand-planning team to ask a few questions and see how everything is going, and then I’m usually either off to meetings or back to my desk to work on tasks for the day.

Q: What are you most proud of when it comes to your career at Schwan’s?

A: Two primary things: First, the number of people on my teams that have been promoted or made planned changes to positions in other functions — I love to see people grow and find their passion; and second, I’ve developed great relationships across functions, which leads to real conversations and enables effective problem solving.

Q: What are you passionate about in your job?

A: Continuous improvement. My team and I are focused on working with our partners to drive continuous improvement in the fill rates to our customers. This will drive increased credibility with customers and employees.

Q: Schwan’s is a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee this year and the football season has begun. Are you a fan?

A: Yes!

Q: Which team are you hoping to see in the Big Game?

A: The fifth time will be the charm for the Minnesota Vikings.

Q: What is your favorite Schwan’s® food to serve at your Big Game viewing party?

A: Schwan’s® Jumbo Cooked Shrimp.

Q: What is your favorite Schwan’s product overall?

A: Edwards® Turtle Pie.

Q: What do you like about Schwan’s culture?

A: Our culture values and encourages different points of view in the spirit of improvement and continuing our journey to meet our commitments. It allows me to be myself and feel like I can make a difference every day.

Q: As part of our culture, we like to say we work as “one Schwan’s team.” What does that mean to you?

A: It means working together toward a common goal or common set of goals with no hidden agendas.

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