Pros to Know: GAINS’ Amber Salley Encourages Young Professionals to Attend Engineering School

Amber Salley, VP of industry solutions for GAINS, was named one of our Lifetime Achievement award winners from this year’s Pros to Know award.

Gains Sally 1697829939945

Amber Salley, VP of industry solutions for GAINS, was named one of our Lifetime Achievement award winners from this year’s Pros to Know award, presented by Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

We talk exclusively with Salley about her journey and goals and the importance of implementing and enhancing supply chain planning functions.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive: Let’s first talk about you. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to get to this current stage in your career?

Amber Salley: I studied IT and SCM in college and started my career at IBM deploying and maintaining supply chain technologies to support the manufacturing of laptops and desktop computers. I then took a detour to business school and studied accounting and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of business. This led to a sting in management consulting supporting CSCOs and CIOs with their strategic initiatives. I then moved into advisory with Gartner, where I covered the supply chain planning technology space and advised thousands of companies over the years on supply chain planning projects and initiatives. I then joined GAINS as the VP of industry strategy, where I am leading our product marketing efforts.


Supply & Demand Chain Executive: One of the things outlined in your nomination form is your efforts in supply chain planning capabilities, including leading the Gartner Supply Chain Plane Hype Cycle, promoting modern supply chain management approaches, integrating advanced digital technologies and more. Walk us through the importance of implementing and enhancing supply chain planning functions.

Salley: Investing in supply chain planning helps companies more effectively link strategy with execution. It is the glue that links a company’s sales, finance, product portfolio, and growth strategies with operational tasks like product delivery and manufacturing. Companies that have a strong supply chain planning process anchored with good technology are better able to predict what customer needs, and deliver what customers need when they need it and do it at a lower cost which in turn can increase revenue and EBITDA.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive:
There’s so much going on in the supply chain space. What have you and your company done to help customers improve visibility and optimization?

Salley: We provide a technology that gives customers a platform to hold all of their data needed to support supply chain planning -- demand forecasting, inventory data, supply planning data. But using this platform companies can see where all their inventory is in their network at any given time and determine where to place inventory in their network to support forecasted demand. We use sophisticated math to help our customers know when and where to place inventory to best service customers at a high service level with the lowest cost. We also support supply chain design initiatives where we can help companies determine the most optimal place to open a warehouse or DC-based or which transportation lane to used which considers different constraints within the network or within the company’s model.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive:
If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you tell him? 

Salley: Go to engineering school. I did not know about the field of engineering until I was in college. And the lack of an engineering degree has prevented me from being strongly considered for roles that were of interest to me.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive:
What would you want to tell your future self? 

Salley: Look back at your life and be proud of what you have been able to accomplish for women and for people of color.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive:
You’ve been named one of our Lifetime Achievement winners from this year’s Pros to Know award. What advice do you have for others who’ve been in the industry for quite some time and even for those up-and-comers in the supply chain?

Salley: Be open to opportunities that come your way. You may feel comfortable in your current role, but if you don't have someone in organization actively advocating for you to grow and progress in your role it may be time to move on. An opportunity that comes your way may not seem like a good fit, but you may be surprised how much your knowledge and experience can be transferred to a new opportunity.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the 2024 Pros to Know winners.