After 12 years working for Frito-Lay/PepsiCo, Emily Nguyen (EMBA ’18) knows a few things about snack foods.
“It takes about eight minutes to produce each bag of Cheetos,” she shares. “The Rancho Cucamonga site produces 12 million pounds of corn product/chips. We produce Doritos, Tostitos, Fritos, Cheetos and Funyuns. We are the biggest Cheetos producing site.”
Currently, she says, the site is approximately 97% automated, meaning that once the chips are made in the “kitchen,” they are moved from the packaging room to the warehouse without being touched once.
During Nguyen’s time in manufacturing, she headed a $5 million automation install project that changed the outdated manual packaging machines to fully automated ones. She has also helped R&D test new flavors and techniques. “I started as a college-hire and worked on the 3rd shift for two years managing a team of 30 people making Cheetos,” she says.
Since earning her EMBA through Chapman’s Executive MBA program, Nguyen has moved into logistics, distribution and transportation (LD&T), where she currently oversees Geographical Enterprise Solutions functions and works directly with sales in four zones, servicing them through the full mix warehouse. She oversees LD&T annual operating plans, along with warehouse excellence programs and strategies.
We asked Nguyen about her time at Chapman.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
Dr. Regina Trevino in Statistics. She made graduate math fun and I discovered skills set to help me dive deeper into supply chain issues to come up with solutions for Frito-Lay.
If you could go back in time and experience one moment again from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently?
I would enjoy the early Saturday morning banter sessions with my cohort again. Those mornings allowed us to connect and form friendships we still have today. I would have focused more on the emotional intelligence courses that were available. As I progress in my field and manage managers, those soft skills are crucial to effectively communicate and connect with my peer groups/subordinates.
I would enjoy my time and slow down. As an EMBA, those two years go by so fast! I would recommend taking ANY travel course as an elective – I spent two weeks in Scandinavia with Dr. Niklas Myhr visiting every inch of Sweden and observing places and business I would not think of in my own travels. When you are traveling with a group, step outside of your comfort zone to experience and learn; go on a walk for a Banh Mi sandwich with the classmate at five in the morning and learn how the working class in Vietnam prepares for the day.
How did Chapman prepare you for your career? For life? How did your experience prepare you for the real world?
The courses on soft skills are so valuable in my career now. I manage a diverse group of hourly employees and managers and I need to change my communication style/approach at every conversation to fully connect and gain momentum for the strategy I set out for my team.
Were there any major societal issues in our country/world that you recognized or faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved?
In the supply chain world, the mentality is that we need to work until the job is done or put in the time then get the promotion. Time has changed! Tenured companies need to find the voice of the younger generation and meet them halfway with their work-life-balance and growth development. I currently sponsor the West Region’s new hire program and constantly need to vet new managers as a college hire or experience to see what they need/want from a company.