Ask an Expert: Ammie McAsey on Supply Chain Evolution

An expert Q&A sheds light on how the supply chain industry has shifted and what's next.


By McKesson Health Systems Editorial Team

Read time: 3 minutes

Ammie McAsey, senior vice president of customer distribution experience for McKesson’s U.S. Pharmaceutical division, leads the distribution and customer experience strategy across the U.S. for brand, generic and specialty pharmaceuticals. In a recent conversation, she shared more on her career in supply chain, how the industry has shifted and what changes she sees in the future.

Q: What are the most significant changes you’ve seen during your time in the industry?

A: The evolution of technology has been the most significant change I’ve seen. At the onset of my career, most work was done via paper and pen or for those of us who remember – green bar reports. Today, it is rare to walk into a distribution center without seeing some form of automation – A-frames, wire-guided vehicles, smart conveyance, robots, and the technology that powers the automation. The analytical and visualization platforms available today have improved and accelerated decision-making, which in turn has sped up the supply chain.

Q: You mention the evolution of technology. How do you see technology playing a critical role in the future?

A: I evaluate technology within our business in two ways: 1) How can we use tech to keep our employees safe and happy? And 2) In fast-paced fulfillment operations, what tech can give us real-time intel to make us better?

This leads us to reviewing strenuous manual processes and evaluating technology like robotics to see if they’re a good fit. Those are the types of technologies that I believe will make our team members’ lives easier. Our goal is to use technology to empower the team because our people are the difference makers at McKesson. If there’s something my leadership team can do to make a process better, you bet we’re going to explore that idea. Employee ideas have generated fantastic solutions for our business. So, while the robotics – and vision technology– can be helpful, they can’t beat the teams of determined problem-solvers delivering your order.

And they are highly passionate and dedicated to the role they serve in the overall distribution process. We have a motto emblazoned above the doors of our distribution centers: “It’s Not a Package. It’s a Patient.” We take these words seriously.

Q: You’ve been at McKesson for more than a decade. What is your proudest professional achievement?

A: I’ll share two personal achievements that have shaped my time here at McKesson. First, was leading the opening of a new McKesson distribution center in 2009. The new automated facility replaced an aging building, and in a two-week timeframe, $170 million worth of inventory, 1,400 customers, and 153 employees were successfully repositioned. The leadership team learned new technology and achieved zero customer disruptions while achieving a 15% increase in productivity and a 30% improvement in operations quality.

And then the most recent and notable achievement, I supported McKesson’s initiatives to provide COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supply kits on behalf of the U.S. government. We are operating as a centralized distributor and this project required adding more than 3.3 million square feet of distribution center space. It was an unprecedented time for our country and our team. So, I’m very proud of the work we all accomplished.