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  • OSI Sustainability

OSI Supply Chain Supervisor Wins“30 Under 30” Award

March 12, 2020

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Nihreer Matani never gave much thought to where his food came from. As far as he was concerned, he said, “food came from the store.”


Little did Matani know that by age 25, he would be an award-winning Supply Chain Supervisor at OSI, involved each day in the “exciting puzzle” of sourcing products and ingredients that connect farm to fork. Now Matani is working alongside others at OSI to educate the industry and general public about where their food comes from.


Along with Matthew Lewis, an OSI Operations Manager, Matani was recognized in January as one of 30 outstanding industry leaders under the age of 30 at the 2020 International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta. The American Feed Industry Association, the North American Meat Institute, and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association present the award as a way to recognize and nurture professional potential. Winners were invited to the three-day expo, which left Matani inspired to get back to work.


“The show was filled with so much information,” he said. Matani spent his time hustling from booth to booth in a sprawling convention center, where he learned about emerging technologies in feed, feed additives, equipment and technology, and got fired up anew about OSI’s sustainability mission.


OSI SUPPLY CHAIN SUPERVISOR ROLE PUTS MATANI IN POSITION TO CONTRIBUTE TO OSI’S SUSTAINABILITY MISSION

“It was especially cool to see Nicole Johnson-Hoffman speak about OSI’s sustainability mission and how other companies can be a part of it,” he said, referring to OSI’s Chief Sustainability Officer, who gave a presentation at the expo. “The key thing I took away from her talk was that it’s our responsibility to really push ourselves. We all know where the challenges are, and we in the industry have to ask ourselves, ‘how are we going to address sustainability, which is not competitive, in an industry where competition is such a big thing?’”


As a supervisor overseeing the strategic sourcing of beef and produce, he is in a prime position to contribute to that mission. Part of his job, he said, is using OSI’s purchasing power to encourage suppliers to improve on areas like foreign material detection, and to help create the “best possible product for our customers.”


The relationships he forms with suppliers are part of what appeals to him most about his job. “I like that every day there is a new challenge, every day is exciting and I really like the relationship aspect — picking up the phone and talking to suppliers about how our needs can match up with their supply. I like that puzzle.”


Matani works out of OSI’s Aurora, Illinois office, but spends some time on the road getting to know the supply chain that was once such a mystery to him. “I love boots on the ground … In this job, I’ve learned about the whole supply chain behind our food.” On his supplier visits he has taken an active interest in animal welfare. “I think it is important to understand how much work and time and research has gone into this. OSI believes that animal welfare is a precompetitive topic so we’re eager to work with our supplier network to ensure animals are as calm and happy as possible,” he said.


FROM COLLEGE TO OSI SUPPLY CHAIN SUPERVISOR TO YOUNG INDUSTRY LEADER

Matani’s initial introduction to supply chain management came during his post-graduate training programs with OSI, and the procurement, analysis and strategy involved in those responsibilities peaked his interest. He learned about OSI’s training programs at a college career fair, when an OSI recruiter encouraged him to apply for a summer internship.


Though his first internship focused on OSI’s manufacturing operations, the operations team happened to share an office with the supply chain team’s Rotational Management Trainee (RMT), and Matani liked what he saw. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2016, he got into the RMT program, which quickly led to a full time position.


“While in the supply chain rotation, I was managing beef procurement and a couple different custom food products, setting strategy and analyzing spending data. And I liked that every different day was exciting,” he said.


Since joining the supply chain team, he has managed procurement of everything from beans and other produce to beef for some of OSI’s biggest customers. And he’s learned to problem solve with colleagues, who have become close friends. “They challenge me to be a better person every day and encourage me to approach problems in different ways,” he said. “Each day has unique challenges, but I know I can count on my co-workers to come together and come up with a creative solution.”


INVESTING IN MATANI — AND THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY IN THE INDUSTRY

Beyond navigating daily puzzles, leaders at OSI have given him longer-term goals to strive toward. He said he looks up to, in particular, the three people who nominated him for the “30 under 30” award: his supervisor Louis Rose, Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, and OSI’s Global Supply Chain VP Mark Richardson. “I can confidently say I see all three as mentors and people I learn from on a constant basis,” he said.


The same way OSI recruiters saw potential in Matani when he was still a student, his nominators now see potential in him as a leader. Sending him to Atlanta was a clear investment in Matani, but also in the future of the industry, which Matani’s generation will eventually lead.


Aware of the big responsibilities he’s on a path to inherit, Matani is currently studying to get his APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CPSC) designation. “I recognize that there’s room for growth and for understanding best practices in the industry and ensuring OSI follows those best practices,” he said. He’s also interested in keeping abreast of innovations, including everything from equipment to supply chain traceability.


He was excited to get a peek at some of these innovations in Atlanta. “Seeing all of the emerging technology that will be revolutionizing our industry in the next five years was very interesting to see in action,” he said. “Ten years from now all these facilities I’m visiting now will be way more automated.”


And he instantly saw practical value in a session he attended about underutilized whole muscle cuts on beef, pork and lamb carcasses. “This will be helpful in my role,” he said. “Taking advantage of this opportunity could lead to better value for our customers while also enhancing value to our suppliers and supporting the industry.”


These are the sorts of things he finds himself dwelling on when he considers what it means to work as a Supply Chain Supervisor at an influential company during a time of new challenges and innovation. “As our population grows globally, it is important to leverage our scale to improve our existing supply chain to help our planet and its inhabitants thrive,” he explained. “I’m excited to be involved in this industry and be a part of that change.”