Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Amber Hancock knew what she wanted to do: Help people, make others and herself happy, be passionate, and never stop learning. By all measures, she has achieved her goals.
Hancock joined the materials management department of Encompass Health (then HealthSouth) in 2001. She was responsible for purchasing furniture for all of the company’s divisions – medical centers, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, outpatient center, surgery centers and diagnostic centers. Today, she has responsibility for the day-to-day supply-chain-related activities of Encompass Health’s 135 rehab facilities.
In supply chain, her team oversees many national contracts and vendor relationships, which include food, drugs, medical equipment, furniture and services. “Every day is something different,” she says. “I love it, and it keeps you on your toes!”
The big takeaway? “To know at the end of the day we help our staff get the equipment and services they need to get patients back into their community and homes.”
Describe a key mentor or event in your life.
Hancock considers herself fortunate to have had many mentors and leaders in her life, many of them family. “All my grandparents lived close, and we spent time together making many fond memories I will remember for years to come,” she says.
Her father, Bobby, “was and still is the hardest-working and tender-hearted man I know. He worked long, odd hours to provide for our family, and he spent time with us – working on cars, raising various animals, learning new things.”
Her mother, Sally, a 29-year breast-cancer survivor, is “a very brave and strong woman,” she says. “I was in middle school when she had breast cancer. We saw her go through so much – losing a good bit of her hair and going through chemo. But she never once asked ‘why’ or complained.”
Drake, her husband, “is my best friend and my rock, always by my side as the changes come and go. He has always encouraged me to push on and through.”
In what way(s) are you a better supply chain leader than you were, say, five or 10 years ago?
A former leader, James Allen, empowered Hancock to do things she didn’t think she could do, she says. “He gave me the tools and believed in me. He supported my ideas and helped me present them to others. It gave me the confidence I needed to realize that I can do more than I thought I ever could.
She tries to support her team in the same way. “I don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself,” she says. “We work together as a team, and that goes a long way. We are a small department, but a powerful one.
“I have also learned that overthinking may work against you at times. We work on many projects, all at different stages, and you need to be able to switch from one to another quickly. Attention to detail comes to mind as well: With all those projects, you need to know where you stand at any time to ensure you are staying within the budget and timeline.”
Describe the key characteristics of the successful supply chain leader of the future.
“A successful supply chain leader is an individual who knows the value of their team around them, and who supports and believes in their strengths and weaknesses,” she says. “[He or she] builds character with that team and truly appreciates them. A leader is one who has the company’s values at heart and also looks ahead to changes that may be ahead.”