Leading the Way Alumni Spotlight: Robin Baggs
Name: Robin Baggs
Current Title: Director of Transportation, The Home Depot
Year Graduated: 2015
What has your professional journey looked like since graduation?
After graduation, I was lucky to take on a new role as Director of Transportation, continuing my career at The Home Depot. I currently lead a team of supply chain professionals responsible for developing and implementing The Home Depot’s core transportation strategy. With a focus on executing The Home Depot’s One Supply Chain vision, my team’s responsibilities include standing up new flatbed and rail operations as The Home Depot builds out our new bulk distribution and delivery centers; synchronizing The Home Depot’s core transportation network for optimal performance; and managing and developing The Home Depot’s core transportation management systems.
Are you involved with any new or innovative projects at your company?
One of The Home Depot’s top initiatives is a large, multi-year strategy we call “One Supply Chain.” One Supply Chain is focused on ensuring we have the fastest, most efficient delivery in Home Improvement. We’re making an over $1.2B investment in our Supply Chain and enabling same-day/next-day delivery for over 90% of our customers. We’re also ensuring we have an optimal network for a business that continues to grow at a rapid clip. For our core transportation network, we’ve been focused on what we call BDC (bulk distribution center) One Supply Chain, which is taking control of our bulk distribution network that moves much of our building materials business. Things like dimensional lumber, studs, OSB, plywood, roofing shingles, and pipe. Product that tends to be heavy, sometimes long, and often tough-to-handle through a traditional carton network. We leverage direct rail and flatbed trucking as the main forms of transportation into this network and have started managing this directly as opposed to having it splintered across a hundred plus suppliers. This allows us to leverage our scale, optimize the network, and make the right investments to drive the business. As part of those investments, we’re building out 30-plus new bulk distribution centers and 30-plus flatbed delivery centers across the country and we’ll collocate those operations wherever possible. It will allow us to ensure we have the square footage to handle growth in the business, optimize inventory levels, and enable same-day/next-day delivery to the do-it-yourselfer’s home and the PRO job site.
Are you actively using any material or projects you created while a student in the program? (in other words, did something you worked on in the program bear fruit in your professional roll)
I use things we studied in the program every day. One of the things I loved about the program was that your cohort was made up of executives across transportation and supply chain, from retailers/shippers, to ocean carriers, to rail carriers, to trucking carriers, to public transportation, to military logistics. No matter the topic, there were all these real-world perspectives from the class. I also loved the mix of academics and practitioners teaching the program. It richened the conversation, and we all learned more because of it. My capstone thesis was centered on developing and integrating The Home Depot’s online and customer delivery network with our core transportation network to create a world-class, interconnected experience for our customers. I apply many of those concepts to strategies we are actively implementing in the business today.
Please share any memories of your student days that stand out, including people you worked with and/or friends you made through the experience.
Oh yeah, lots of great memories from the program…we studied hard and played hard. DU hockey, group dinners on Pearl Street, concerts, downtown Denver, the rodeo (that’s serious business in Denver), and more. The DU campus is really amazing, also. It’s always great to see folks from the program or cohort. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Sara Gooden and Ken Dziwulski directly, I always love catching up with Steve Batsakis and Ron Harper (although we need to do it more often), and love seeing folks during our Board/Alumni meetings back in Denver. In fact, I recently joined an alumni group focused on how we can drive more content for alumni and create a compelling case for folks to return to campus. More to come on this. I’ve also enjoyed being a guest lecturer for the program, which has been a great experience. I’m also working with Travis Lawrence on a potential southeastern or Atlanta-based alumni group. If anyone in the area has an interest, please let us know.
Any thoughts on Board-student interaction from your time as a student?
I think Board-student interaction is critical and a huge draw for the program. The Board is made up of industry leaders – hearing their thoughts, receiving their advice, building those relationships – it’s such an essential part of the program. From Board dinners to their participation in classes, I really enjoyed spending time with and getting to know many of the Board members. Adriene Bailey and I had a chance to chat through some industry challenges just this summer, for example, so those relationships continue.
Did you attend the international travel seminar? What was that like?
I love that the program ends with an international session. Our cohort completed studies in London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Brussels, including EU Headquarters and NATO. It was a fantastic experience. Our time at EU headquarters and NATO was particularly memorable. Hearing directly from leaders of EU transportation and infrastructure policymakers was a great perspective to learn. Our time at NATO was great, too. Spending time with U.S. military officials responsible for NATO logistics throughout the European theatre was a highlight of the session for me. We also spent time at Nike’s European supply chain hub, London’s public transportation headquarters, and one of the most technologically advanced terminals in the world in Rotterdam. It’s always great to see theory in practice and learn from other areas of the world.
Please share any big life changes or information about your family that you would like.
Our oldest daughter was actually born while I was in the master’s program and is now in the second grade. Our youngest daughter is 3 years old. They are both absolutely amazing…I’m not sure how I got so lucky. They obviously take after their fantastic mother.
Any hopes you have for the Transportation Institute as a program or for the future alumni relations program (when we can gather again)?
I look forward to seeing the program continue to evolve in such a dynamic space as transportation and supply chain management. I know the program leadership team is focused on creating must-see content for our students, Board, and alumni network. With this, I think we’ll see the power of that network continue to grow, which I’m very much excited to see.