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"An Unconventional Road" by Euan Merrilees: Wednesday 8 March 2023

From the age of 12 in his native Aberdeen, Euan Merrilees developed such a passion for DJing dance music that for years he did it for free, launching his own company in 2001. Where others were bound for college, he seemed set for a life of working throughout many nightclubs across the country. Being a sole trader taught him about accounts and legislation, enabling him to navigate his way through the world of business, and he built a reputation from working with the largest nightclub brand in the UK with a highlight of supporting Calvin Harris during part of a nationwide tour launching an album.

However, in 2013 Euan moved to Glasgow, feeling he had pushed his music career as far as he could. The nights were beginning to take their toll, and it was back to further education. Signing up to an HND in Supply Chain Management at City of Glasgow College opened his eyes to possibilities in a number of roles. It was then that he started to appreciate the benefits of picking up professional experience from the older generation and the value of being offered internships so as to make contact with the real world.

A collapse in the price of oil ruled out aspirations of going to that sector, but he managed to get an internship at Aberdeen Airport that encouraged him to complete a BSc in Supply Chain Management at Glasgow Caledonian University. A project at an online clothing store gave him engagement with suppliers, and his dissertation was on the importance of resilience in supply chain strategies.

It proved naive however to suppose in 2018 that a First-Class Honours degree would readily get him a job despite over a hundred applications, a return to university to study MSc in Supply Chain Management later that year secured an exciting prospect of an internship at Hewlett Packard Enterprises. A visit to the former Compaq site at Erskine convinced him that the risk was worth taking, and then a three-month internship turned to six and, prior to lockdown into a permanent job offer. By now he had learned that networking through CILT and other forums was key to opening doors that would take him out of his comfort zone into opportunities at working on cross-functional projects.

Hewlett Packard Enterprises had split from its founding company, Hewlett Packard Inc, in November 2015 to become a global entity with 60,000 employees becoming recognised for its Formula One sponsorship. Now they supply IT solutions to blue-chip companies, offering end-to-end services such as supplying spare parts that enable clients to reduce the size of their inventories. An alternative is for HPE to securely store inventory at client sites from which parts can quickly consumed to minimise downtime, delivering operational and customer service benefits. A later refinement is for clients to be able to pay for access to HPE's own hardware.

Euan's experiences within HPE have included supporting the world's fastest supercomputer, and clients have included laboratories and stadium operators. Global coverage has included areas with four-hour targets for which penalties will kick in if delivery is not achieved by then. The task of supply chain professionals is to always come up with creative solutions to keep the world running, and challenges in recent years have included Brexit, CoVid (challenging reliance on China), the Ever-Given grounding in the Suez Canal that caused a six-day hiatus in supply chains and the Ukraine war that has sent energy costs soaring. The world seems to be heading towards greater near-shoring, and in helping clients adjust to change Euan has been able to draw on the information acquired from networking to deepen his knowledge, enabling his supply-chain professionalism to sit alongside DJing as his second passion.

To download a copy of the presentation, click here (PDF format, 1.0Mb)

Report by John Yellowlees.


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