Partner Spotlight: Cheniere Energy

Cheniere Energy, Inc. is an international energy company based in Houston, Texas, and has been one of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative’s (SCRC) proud partner companies since 2018.

The company specializes in the production and distribution of liquefied natural gas (LNG), a complex process that involves converting natural gas into liquid form (i.e. liquefaction) and then loading it onto cargo ships for global distribution.

On January 27th, 2020, Cheniere announced it had produced and exported its 1000th cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG), a milestone the company’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Bill Knittle, said is the fastest rate at which a company has ever achieved this milestone.

Working with the Pack

Knittle speaking at the SCRC Annual Conference in spring 2019

Knittle has played an integral role in the development of the relationship between Cheniere and the SCRC since becoming a partner in 2018. His team has attended several career events, participated in executive roundtables and leadership programs hosted by the Poole College of Management, and Knittle serves on the SCRC advisory board where he provides market insight and advice on the supply chain curricula while meeting the college’s mission, strategic goals and objectives.

In early 2018, Knittle came to speak to NC State students about Cheniere’s supply chain operations, where he said, “One of the reasons we are at NC State is that you have one of the truly elite supply chain programs in the country. [What] we are working on together … is having a real impact on our supplier relationships and our supply chain, and we are pleased with the results we are seeing from the student teams this semester.”

In an interview with SCRC Executive Director Rob Handfield earlier this year, Knittle talked about what he appreciated most about NC State’s supply chain program, based on his experiences sponsoring student project teams and working with the multiple undergraduate and MBA alumni he and his teams have hired over the years.

Cross-disciplinary curriculum

“NC State has the right level of curriculum diversity,” Knittle told Dr. Handfield. “More universities are creating data scientist programs, but haven’t linked these programs to supply chain curriculums. Leveraging the combination of analytics and supply chain is critical for businesses today, and the ability for students to access the multitude of information that exists in different places is a critical capability.”

Knittle also highlighted the integration of the supply chain curriculum with that of the industrial engineering (IE) program across campus. “[Getting] industrial engineers into your program and getting them to think more practically about business problems is another important distinguishing feature,” he said. “We hired an IE from NC State who took supply chain classes as a student, and he has been invaluable to some of our folks because of the application-based learning in the program.”

NC State’s ability to “leverage the latest technology solutions” is critical for its successful integration of cross-disciplinary curriculums, Knittle added, and is one way he believes it has successfully distinguished itself from other universities.

Applied Learning

The opportunity students have to work with companies like Cheniere on practicum projects is also a critical piece to what make’s NC State’s student experience so valuable, according to Knittle.

“Applying theoretical knowledge in real-life applications through projects and internships, and getting that real-world application view is invaluable for your students,” Knittle told Dr. Handfield. “The practicum project advisors also bring a lot of knowledge to the process, and they are critical to the program.”

Additionally, Knittle said he has been impressed with the caliber of the university’s supply chain faculty, and recalled hearing undergraduate students talk about one instructor in particular last fall. “Two out of our three students this year raved about [Donavon Favre] and how he pushes the procurement tools. [He] was very direct in telling them that ‘I expect you to apply these tools and principles, and not just regurgitate them on exams!’”

For all these reasons, Knittle said he looks forward to continuing to work with NC State’s supply chain students and thought leaders as Cheniere works towards becoming the largest LNG operator in the world.

“I’m most excited about the way that  NC State is driving the use of the latest technologies to collect and categorize critical business and supply chain information to enable improved Supply Chain decision to add greater value to our business,” he said.

This post was originally published in Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.