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Elements for growth: the WMG graduate who is keeping the vitamin supply chain on track

“I didn’t just gain the technical expertise required but also how to better work with others.”

“If I see something broken, I don’t just want to fix it – I want to improve it so it functions better,” states Francesca Santonastaso.

As a global supply chain manager, the 32-year-old is not mending machines. Instead, she’s constantly working out how to ‘improve’ the supply chain process. And that requires persuading people to accept change, then ensuring new ways of working are followed and maintained.

“The easy part is defining the best process,” says Francesca, a WMG MSC graduate in Supply Chain and Logistics Management who is based in Basel, Switzerland. “What’s difficult is making reforms sustainable by getting people to accept them.”

Despite the pandemic, this high-flyer has quickly adapted to new ways of working in her daily life – and is thriving.

Describe your work

I'm working in production planning for DSM, an international leader in vitamin development and manufacturing. We supply vitamins to food companies and to farmers.

What skills learned at WMG have you found useful?

How to meet the demands of a real-life business environment. Not only the technical expertise required but also how to better work with others. The supply chain isn’t linear in my industry. So, it’s crucial not to overpromise with customers or you lose trust if you don’t deliver. I work with the commercial team so to align capacity and demand.

How has the course helped shape your career?

My background is in mechanical engineering and I started out as a project engineer for Procter and Gamble looking after a distribution centre. That’s where I became interested in supply chains. However, I needed in-depth knowledge to progress in this speciality. At WMG, I gained an overview of areas I wasn’t experienced in such as negotiation skills, customer service and procurement. And, of course, my English language skills improved hugely.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Leaving a steady work position – and the security that came with it – to attend the MSc course. I won a scholarship to WMG which was a brilliant opportunity, and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Just a week after lessons finished, I landed a job at Siemens – WMG is well-known for high quality MSc courses and this really helped me to stand out.

What’s your advice to other students?

Make the most of other skill-building courses while doing your MSc. There are many opportunities such as how to write an essay or how to be assertive. Take advantage of the whole WMG experience.