University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Intern Spotlight: Zach Keating

Zach Keating

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Episode Transcript

00:00 Zach Keating: You never really know what's gonna happen when you walk in there. Actually, one time I went into the store and had a store manager who didn't believe I was actually an employee of Frito-Lay and that I was just taking pictures and touching stuff for the fun of it. So that was interesting to try to explain that to him.


00:31 Brian Fugate: We're here in Dallas, Texas with Zach Keating at Frito-Lay's North Dallas field office. Zach is a Walton supply chain management student graduating May 2020, and he's currently a sales management intern here at Frito-Lay. Zach, so could you tell us a little bit about what you're doing this summer?

00:52 Zach Keating: Right, so yeah, like you said, I'm a sales management intern. I'm working on a project where I'm gonna analyze 25 stores to look at their mix management. For us, mix management basically means how much... Say, we have eight feet of shelf space, how we put big bags, small bags, different sizes of bags we have on there and making sure that lines up with how much we sell. As well as working on a new way to go about our precision ordering to reduce our products down out on the shelf, drive sales, and make it more efficient for our route drivers to get through their day.

01:27 Brian Fugate: Okay, okay. So you're out visiting stores, right?

01:33 Zach Keating: Yes.

01:33 Brian Fugate: And I think you'd told me earlier, a lot of gas stations, also Sam's, Walmart, etcetera. So how's that going? What's that like visiting them on this job?

01:41 Zach Keating: Yeah, so my project is centered around convenience stores, specifically IBC stores, which is an account we have for different convenience stores. So I've been all over the North Dallas area up to Celina, down to downtown, all the way over to Denton and McKinney and Allen, so all over the place in the DFW area. It's really interesting to be able to go in there and meet with store managers to build a rapport with those different customers, make sure everything's going good for them and their account and seeing if there's anything more we can do for them in terms of to drive their sales, make it better for consumers coming in. 'Cause for us, the way we refer to customers are more of our stores that we sell to and then the consumer who actually buys the product, as our consumer side. Mainly interacting a lot with our customers on the store side, see a lot of the DFW area at the same time.

02:28 Zach Keating: So tell me a little bit about the projects, right? So we've got behind here a display. And so you're going into these gas stations and stores and different places to work on how that looks, looking at that inventory. You gave us a tour earlier and you've got distributions in here, warehousing, you've got sales here. There's lots of different really supply chain stuff going on. And so how are you using supply chain and projects and those kind of things?

02:57 Zach Keating: Yeah, so, even though I'm a sales intern and am kinda on the sales side, we use supply chain every day, interact with the operations team every day in the warehouse, our drivers, all that kind of stuff, and it's really important we work together. Sometimes it can be, "Hey, I need you to do this," or, "You guys need to do this better, you need to do this better," but it's really important that we all work together, because when we work well with the supply chain team and they work well with the sales team, it's better for everybody. We execute better, we're working better as a team, we're being as one rather than the sales team and the ops team. So yeah, my project is working on the precision ordering in our stores and making it just more efficient for our drivers to be in there, order the right product, so we don't have any product staling out or we're not running out, right? We don't ever want to be out of stock, have stock outs before the next delivery comes. So my project, me doing my job well helps the operations team to do their job well, which helps everything to run well together.

03:56 Brian Fugate: Yeah, so that's in supply chain, really the crux. When you boil it all down, it's how does that demand side and supply side of the organization integrate, coordinate, work well together. And in your position, you're right there at that overlap and helping make that happen, and so that's a lot of fun. A lot of challenges, and so maybe speak to that a little bit. What kind of challenges have you had to deal with this summer as an intern and in your job?

04:21 Zach Keating: Right, right, so we face new challenges every day. I think that's part of what makes this job exciting and working for a company like this exciting is that we have a lot, a big area that we service. It does high volume, a lot of demand in this area. Some of the challenges with that, of course, are just making sure we have the right quantities that we order, we're not running out, we're not ordering too much, which then results in the product staling out on the shelf before it gets sold. Some other challenges, we could have a driver call in sick, and then all of a sudden his route's down and there's 10 to 12 stores on his route that are now not gonna get service, so you kinda gotta work with those challenges to figure out, okay, now, how do we still get that product to the stores?

05:01 Brian Fugate: Do you jump on the truck yourself?

05:02 Zach Keating: I personally don't. I'm not DOT certified, so I might get somebody in trouble as well as myself in trouble.

05:08 Brian Fugate: There you go.

05:09 Zach Keating: But somebody does have to jump on the truck, whether that's a district sales leader, another driver who may be on his day off, maybe he has to get... His phone rings and he's gotta come down and jump on a truck or a district sales leader's gotta jump on a truck. Somebody's gotta jump on the truck because at the end of the day, that product's gotta get there. Or just new challenges of hey, this store, we just ran out of product or we wanna do something new, store's not happy with something or something's going really well, so there's... You never know what your day's gonna be like here. You can come in and have a day planned and something can come up and it's gonna take all your attention for the rest of that day to get that figured out just to be sure we're meeting all our goals of never being out of stock and always meeting the demands of our consumers and our customers and making sure we can be the best vendor for them.

05:55 Brian Fugate: That's exciting. I'm kinda jealous. I think I'd like to go play with that some. So you talked about some challenges, which you've obviously learned a lot through all of this. What are some of the things that's gone well for you?

06:06 Zach Keating: Gone well, I really like the team here in Dallas North. We have a great team. Getting to know the people, all the way from the management to drivers to the warehouse workers, the operations team, the region leadership team, it's just really great people. I think that's what makes this company the company it is, in terms of PepsiCo as a whole and especially, even Frito-Lay. Just a great team. Any need that I have, any issue that I've faced while being an intern, someone's taken their time to stop and answer that question. Even with as hectic as it can get around here, no one's ever shirked me off or just said, "Hey, we don't really have as much time for you right now, I'm really busy." So I've really enjoyed that part of it, being able to know someone can always answer my questions, help me out when I need it. I've also really enjoyed... I've enjoyed the challenges and having to be fast-paced, always on top of stuff, always on the go. I don't think I'd enjoy a job where I was just sitting around. And so, that's never the case here. Always moving, always working on something, and trying to just get the job done.

07:10 Brian Fugate: That's interesting. I can tell it's a good fit for you. So, taking a step back and thinking about your program and what you've learned at at the University of Arkansas in supply chain, can you think of any of the classes that you had and maybe how that's helped prepare you, and maybe something you've used from those classes?

07:30 Zach Keating: Yeah. A lot of my supply chain classes have been extremely helpful. I learned a lot in them, I utilize the stuff that I learned in them almost all the time. As this college student, you're sitting in some of these classes like, "Am I really gonna use any of this when I actually get a job or is this person just talking at me and... " I'll say, in my supply chain classes, I've used almost everything that I've learned.

07:54 Zach Keating: My supply management class, where my professor was Remko Van Hoek, I learned so much in his class, utilized almost everything that he taught us, especially the portion of his class on alignment and cross-functionality. His background is in procurement. So, especially important there in procurement to be working with all parts of the company and have everyone aligned well to be sure everyone's on the same page in terms of what our goals are, what we need to do, communicating with each other.

08:24 Zach Keating: So, I think that is huge for me in this role because like we were saying earlier, I'm in the middle here between the sales team and the operations team, and working on stuff to make sure everyone can work together fluidly and to get to the same goal 'cause at the end of the day, we're all working towards the same goal. And so, his portion on alignment and having cross-functionality skills to be able to work with the sales team and the supply chain team, and to understand the issues that both sides face is really big for me, especially in this job. And looking back on some of the past internships I've had, if I'd had some of that knowledge and understanding, I think I would have been extremely successful doing that as well and understanding that.

09:06 Brian Fugate: You know, it's interesting 'cause I think because of your previous interns, I think it probably set you up to be able to use a lot of that. So, the alignment frameworks that he presents and those kind of things, given that you came in with such experience, your brain was probably thinking about that.

09:26 Zach Keating: Right, right. Yeah, I was able to pick it up more. Having seen it, I'm like, "Okay, I know what this guy is talking about because I've experienced this," and it makes sense now why we're running to some of that pushback in terms of issues that, 'Hey, you guys are ordering too much. And well, you guys aren't selling enough." So, instead of having those be the conversations, the conversations would be, "Hey, let's work together so we can get this right. And how can I help you to help me," sort of thing rather than pointing fingers and, "It's the office team, it's the sales team. They're ordering too much. They're not selling enough. You're not getting it there fast enough." Instead, it's just aligning and being cross-functional to work as one and reach those goals.

10:07 Brian Fugate: That's interesting and it's insightful for you to pick that up, so that's really great. So, take a little step further back. So, at some point, you decided to do supply chain management as a major and as a career. What led you to that?

10:19 Zach Keating: So, my mom actually has a background in supply chain, so I had that experience seeing her and listening to her talk about work and stuff. And with the University of Arkansas being where it is around Walmart, Tyson, J.B Hunt and having the focus on its supply chain department that it does, I thought it'd be a great choice to start out in that because every company needs a supply chain. Everyone's got stuff they need to get places.

10:46 Zach Keating: Going back to the cross-functional part of it, having the understanding of how stuff goes from, for us, how a potato chip goes from a potato seed to being in a bag on the shelf, that's just good experience to have no matter what part of the business you're in. To understand how to get stuff where it needs to be and how that whole process works. And like I said, being at Arkansas and being where it is, and having the influence on the supply chain department that it does from such great companies that we're lucky enough to have so close to campus and that are so visible on campus. It's the Walton College of Business. We have the JB Hunt building, there's Tyson building. So, lot of impact of those companies are bringing to the university and plenty of doors to be opened from there. And I just figured supply chain would be the best place to start.

11:30 Brian Fugate: I think you've made a good decision. I think you're gonna do well. So, your mom in supply chain will be very proud of you.

11:35 Zach Keating: Yeah. [chuckle]

11:36 Brian Fugate: So, one step further back then, think about if you were talking to yourself as a freshman, sophomore, your earlier self or some other freshmen and sophomores now, what advice would you give them?

11:47 Zach Keating: I would say definitely to get involved on campus, whether that be... Whatever it is, just get involved with something. Always be networking with the people you meet, always try to make new friends and getting involved in different things, finding what you like, take on different classes. Definitely try to build a relationship with your professors. That's one thing, looking back, I would say is huge and can be very helpful in terms of when you go to find a job, you need a recommendation letter or when you wanna apply for whatever it is you wanna do, having those connections and those relationships, it's gonna help you go far and it's gonna help you in your classes.

12:25 Zach Keating: Rather than just being a warm body in the class, actually get to know your professor, introduce yourself, go to their office hours, things like that. As well as getting involved on campus so that you can make an impact on campus and be networking with different people, and different organizations, and things like that. And definitely joining... For supply chain, joining the supply chain club early on, joining the marketing club early on or whatever your major is. Get involved with Walton, get involved with whatever it is that you're interested in. There's plenty of student organizations, plenty of things to get involved with on campus.

13:00 Zach Keating: And like I said, always be networking, always be building relationships and always never be afraid to go... Even if you're a freshman, don't be like, "Oh, I can't go to the career fair, I'm not gonna get a job." Still go because you'll get that experience and visibility to the different companies that are coming to the career fair. So that when you go back next year, hey, maybe the same recruiters there and they remember the conversation, they remember you or you can come up to them and say, "Hey, I talked to you last year. Now, I'm back. I'm gonna talk to you again. I'm a sophomore and... "

13:27 Zach Keating: I got this internship at the career fair and my internship last year from going to the career fair, and just going up to the table and talking to them and it led to interviews. And so, it worked out great. So, that'd be my advice. Get involved, always be networking and don't be afraid to reach out and try to get what you want.

13:45 Brian Fugate: That's a fantastic. Those are really, really good advice, and I hope our students will listen to that. I think they'll appreciate that. So, Zach, I wanna really thank you for taking the time, letting us come out to Dallas and visit with you...

14:00 Zach Keating: Of course.

14:00 Brian Fugate: And learn more about what you're doing.

14:00 Zach Keating: Yeah, of course.

14:00 Brian Fugate: I've got one more question for you. Can I have some chips?

14:03 Zach Keating: Of course, yeah. [chuckle]

14:04 Brian Fugate: Okay, alright, we'll grab...

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