One of the best things about our profession is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many talented and interesting people at our clients and in the community. This blog series introduces some of the executives with whom we work and spotlights the ways they are leading and making their mark, both personally and professionally.
Keith Davidson is Vice President of Finance for ICS, an industry leader in outsourced logistics and distribution services for pharmaceutical manufacturers and a part of AmerisourceBergen. Keith oversees client financial services and accounting, as well as strategic planning, forecasting, and financial analysis. Throughout his career he has been instrumental in driving businesses to profitable growth in both the consumer products and medical device industries.
1. What are some key logistic challenges for your industry?
Two come to mind. One is the degree of merger and acquisition activity in the pharmaceutical industry. Acquisitions introduce capacity concerns and potentially new logistics requirements, whether that means new temperature requirements, licensing arrangements, or increased security for controlled substances. These types of changes test manufacturers’ infrastructure and can disrupt the movement of product. At the same time, manufacturers are looking to maximize their investment returns through growth and development, as opposed to supply chain and logistics. As a result, they can leverage the scale of a 3rd party like ICS without the need to invest in warehousing and logistics. These are key reasons why clients look to us for a solution.
2. How are you using technology to improve the way ICS runs?
Client experience is very important to us. We want our clients to feel like they are interacting with their own warehouse and supply chain, and technology is central to the way we accomplish that. We have developed two proprietary systems for clients. One simplifies the return and chargeback process, and the other is an analytics package that provides clients with the access to view and manage inventory.
Internally, technology is also helping us run more efficiently. We recently completed an ERP upgrade and also introduced Salesforce Chatter to engage our associates and enable them to work more collaboratively.
We know that the technologies we use in our personal lives are shaping expectations for how today’s business-to-business applications will work. This guides how we develop applications for both clients and employees.
3. What do you see as the biggest business challenge in the Dallas market?
Business growth in Dallas and to the north – including Frisco, where we are located – has been huge. That’s both a blessing and a curse. It is great for the local community and economy and has kept unemployment low, but that also makes it tough to find talent. In fact, that’s the case in all of our key markets – not just here at our Dallas-area headquarters, but also in Reno (Nevada), Louisville (Kentucky), and Columbus (Ohio), where we have warehouse and distribution centers.
4. What advice would you give to other leaders in the healthcare logistics industry?
One of our guiding principles at ICS is that if you put people first, the rest will fall into place. Said another way, an organization can’t expect to deliver truly great client service if it doesn’t take care of its people.
I also advise leaders to prioritize the supply chain and prepare for distribution well in advance. Whether we’re talking about an emerging organization with its first product or an established company integrating an acquisition, it is natural to worry first about sales and marketing. However, logistics can be complicated, so if you wait until a month before you need to move product, it may impact other parts of the business.
5. One of West Monroe’s core values is social responsibility, and we know ICS and AmerisourceBergen also have a strong commitment to giving back. What about that particularly excites you?
Our parent, AmerisourceBergen, has a non-profit foundation – the ABC Foundation – that contributes to various health-related causes. For example, when the hurricanes hit in 2017, one of the ways we contributed to relief efforts was by making sure that healthcare providers had access to product. Here in Dallas, we do a lot of work with Frisco Family Services, which is a local organization that helps people in the community facing hunger and homelessness.
At an individual level, I also appreciate AmerisourceBergen’s volunteer time off policy that provides our people with eight hours per year of paid time to spend participating in volunteer activities of their choice.
6. What do you like most about living and working in Dallas?
The Dallas Metroplex is such a large place, with so many cultures and many opportunities. I’ve lived here at several points during my career, and I find it hard to beat. It’s both a great place to live and a great place for business. Plus, you can fly directly to locations all over the world!