An interview with Manfred (Manny) Reiche, Client Solutions

Jan 19, 2020  |  7 min read

Manny

 

Manfred (Manny) Reiche is the Data Operations Manager at Alloy. He joined the Client Solutions team over one year ago, after spending two years at Deloitte as a technology consultant. He holds a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Costa Rica and attended UPenn for my undergrad and graduate studies. Philly was awesome! But it was too cold for me (snow should be reserved for the mountains, not for biking to class). While I loved studying engineering, it was an Entrepreneurship minor that defined what I wanted to do to start my career: balance technology development and business applications.

Right after college, I joined Deloitte, where I flew around the US (15+ states) working on large SAP implementations. My favorite project involved flying to manufacturing plants to help mechanics learn how to use SAP to keep track of maintenance costs. It was a fun challenge to convince people (many of whom did not even own cell phones) that computers could make their very manual jobs easier. I learned a lot during those two years, including:

  • How to listen to users to identify specific pain points that I can subsequently resolve through software
  • How to turn detractors into allies by making their lives better through software applications
  • The importance of clean, well designed data architectures to build usable, robust software that can handle complex applications
  • The different stages of the software development cycle, starting from discovery, through design, build, testing, and finally deployment and iteration

After reaching Platinum status as a frequent traveler, I realized I was traveling too much and was not enjoying San Francisco. I was ready to find something more local, more innovative, and smaller than one of the largest services companies in the world. 

  • Why did you join Alloy?

From my first call with Roby, our Chief Customer Officer and one of our co-founders, I felt Alloy would be an amazing fit. He showed me the two things I was looking for in my next career move: opportunity to make a big impact, and amazing people.

I was looking for a smaller company where I could truly have an impact across many dimensions. As the 20th employee, I would have enough responsibility and room to drive the development of our product, and more importantly, we would be working on a very impactful product! Alloy is solving a real, big, painful problem, where I feel we will leave a major impact on the industry. The Client Solutions team was a great fit since I would be able to directly feel the impact of collaborating with customers.

To deliver this impact, you also need a great team, and everyone I met through the interview process appeared to be amazing. I saw a young, highly accomplished, and driven team, made up of people with very diverse backgrounds and experiences, all collaborating toward a common goal and having fun along the way. It was contagious—after going to lunch with the team during my interview, I was ready to show up to work the next day!

  • What do you do at Alloy?

I am building out a team that drives time-to-value for our client implementations, developing creative solutions as needed, and working to continue expanding the functionality of our software. It involves improving the operational reliability of our platform, pushing the boundaries of what it does today, and building out new, scalable features based on client needs.

In other words, we talk to our clients to understand what they want to accomplish in Alloy, and then teach them how to do it! When it is not a use case we’ve encountered before or not a straightforward task, we “solution” it and stretch the boundaries of our functionality to support it. Once it works relatively well, we partner with our engineering teams to fully develop the identified feature(s) so it is more scalable and reliable. Often, it translates to setting up new data integrations and creating new applications on top of Alloy’s data foundation.

  • What's the most exciting project you've worked on at Alloy?

Demand-Driven Supply Chain!

I was very surprised when I learned that most supply chains operate in the dark when it comes to understanding demand; best case scenario, brands look at historical shipments into distributors to inform their decisions this year, without a clue about what actually happened at the point-of-sale, the true demand. When I tell my friends what I do, they are dumbfounded that this data is not readily available… “It is so simple! You should just roll up the data to make these decisions,” they say.

But then, I get them to think through what it actually takes to accomplish that. Have you actually thought about what it takes to get a product on shelf, and to connect all these data pieces, so a brand can make decisions based on true demand? Let’s quickly trace the different tiers of the supply chain:

  • Raw materials start in a production plant where they are combined to make a new finished good, let’s call it a tinker toy.
  • These tinker toys then get put in a box, and many of those boxes put inside a case, and many of those cases packed inside a pallet. These pallets get scanned out of that plant and sent by truck to a Distribution Center.
  • At the Distribution Center, some of these pallets are opened and repacked into smaller quantities. These smaller groups of cases then are scanned out of inventory and into another truck on their way to a store.
  • At the store, the cases are opened and individual boxes placed at the shelf.
  • Finally (hopefully), someone like you walks into the store and picks up a tinker toy, which has its barcode scanned at the register, and you pay and take it home.

How do you connect the picture? Each of these steps in the chain has its own, siloed database. Each system identifies the tinker toy with a different code (the barcode at the register is very different than the barcodes used to pack the trucks). We have to track different quantities (pallets or boxes) throughout the chain, and be able to link a store back up to its parent DC and eventually its production plant. IT’S A MESS! Now think about a company that sells 100 products, at 8,000+ stores…

This project has been extremely fun and rewarding because I get to work across two dimensions: the business application and the technical challenge.  

The lack of visibility causes tremendous business problems and inefficiencies for supply chain operators, especially in our modern, digital world where consumers want and expect products immediately. I have been very fortunate to work with four of our amazing clients, who represent some of the best supply chains in the WORLD, to understand their pain points and partner with them to design applications no company has built before in order to address them.

To get there, we have to piece together a very complex data puzzle that tests the limits of our platform every day. We are building a platform that not only automatically extracts and reads data from many different data sources, but also translates them all to a common language and connects metrics together to paint a picture of your supply chain that is clear and actionable. It has been a great collaborative effort with our amazing engineering and product teams.

  • What's been the most challenging part of your work so far?

Staying patient and trying to prioritize the work we should do in the right order. We keep uncovering more and more pain points as we collaborate with more customers on the demand driven supply chain application. These problems really resonate with me and, as a serial problem-solver, I immediately want to roll up my sleeves and dive right into solving them. The harder they are, the more I want to solve them. I just want to make their lives easier through cool tech applications!

But of course, we can’t do everything at once. Fortunately, I work closely with many talented engineers and product managers that help organize my thoughts and build a product roadmap to deliver solutions properly and in the right order. 

  • What first interested you in a career in Client Solutions and Data Operations?

My second year in college, I joined the Penn Electric Racing team after my roommate convinced me that they needed help machining parts. At the time, we were a 5-person student run team that designed and built race cars from scratch. As I spent hours upon hours staring at my screen, drawing out parts, and cutting them out of metal (and making mistakes and having to start over), I realized that was not my forte. I brought a different skill set to the team—I was much better at understanding the high level technical challenges and articulating them into project plans and business cases than designing parts of the car.

Around that time, I enrolled in the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor. I took various classes focused on leadership, business operations, and designing/pitching business plans related to technological products. As I developed those skills over the ensuing years, I slowly traded in manufacturing suspension parts and wheel rims for recruiting, enablement, corporate sponsorship/fundraising, project management, and other operations. Ultimately, I graduated as the Team Operations Manager, overseeing a team of 55 students.

Through that experience, I discovered my professional passion: navigating right down the middle of complex engineering challenges and business value conversations to drive technological innovation. In the work world, this translates to delivering client solutions and solving data operations issues.Penn Electric Racing Team

The Penn Electric Racing team with Rev2,
our electric car which accelerated from 0-60mph in 2.5s.
 
  • How would you describe the culture at Alloy?

We have done a great job of building a very flexible, transparent, reasonable yet “exigente” culture. There is enough trust to avoid the need for micromanagement. A disciplined approach that allows us to enjoy ourselves while not having to fear the risks of working at a young company in a tumultuous space. True collaboration where people have each other’s backs.

This culture creates a comfortable working environment that makes it possible for us to excel while having fun. To the point that we even enjoy Monday mornings!

  • What do you like to do outside of the office?

I love sports! Watching and playing.

I can spend an entire Sunday watching 9-hours of NFL football. I try to go to at least one game in person a year. I have been a lifetime Chargers fan and also enjoy the Eagles (I know.. real fans shouldn’t have two teams… but hey, they play in different conferences and rarely face each other!)

During the NFL off-season, you will find me either at the golf course, the beach playing volleyball, or on the slopes skiing. This is why I LOVE California!

Posted by Alloy