Melani Wilson Smith

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Senior Director, Marketing & Commercial Services Procurement Merck & Co. Inc. Whitehouse Station, N.J. Age: 36

Melani Wilson Smith earned an MBA in finance from Florida A&M University, determined to pursue a career on Wall Street. A friend nudged her toward procurement at Procter & Gamble Co. instead. “I decided that it was the right thing for me, ultimately, because it enabled me to do all of things I love about finance — including analysis, understanding and execution of business strategy — and allowed me to do it in a more impactful way earlier in my career.”

P&G’s expansion into Europe meant assignments in Britain and Switzerland, experiences that continue to shape her ideas about procurement. Now senior director for marketing and commercial services procurement at Merck & Co., Wilson Smith often finds ways to execute global strategies using local suppliers.

“Because I know how things work in the regional markets, I push for [a mix] as opposed to merely approaching it at the top level,” she explains. “That results in better delivery for the region, and better overall value for the organization globally.”

Thirteen years and four employers after business school, Wilson Smith is still excited about her work. “Strategic sourcing is really about influencing — business outcomes through an understanding and capture of external supply opportunities,” she says. “By starting with a deep understanding of business needs, combined with an understanding of the market, we strategically generate and execute sourcing opportunities, positioning us to deliver maximum value to the organization.”

Quote: “When you come to the edge of all you’ve known and you’re about to step out into the great unknown, know that you will either walk out on solid ground, or you will be taught how to fly.” – Unknown

Fun Facts
Favorite sports team: Minnesota Vikings
What artist would you go on tour with: Mary J. Blige
First car: 1980 Volkswagon Scirocco
First job: Arby’s
Favorite comedian: D.L. Hughley
Number of countries visited: 34
Favorite charity: Sedona Jazz on the Rocks

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