5 Questions with Jessica McCoy

ISE alumna Jessica McCoy (Class of 2006 and 2007) shares her wisdom and experience from leading inventory strategy and analytics for Nike

Jessica McCoy brings a decade of experience in supply chain modeling to her current role leading inventory strategy and analytics for Nike’s replenishment business. In her prior roles at Nike, McCoy led projects including integrated marketplace analytics, retail planning optimization, NBA contract and portfolio simulation, and NFL playoff prediction modeling. Before joining Nike, Jessica received her BSIE from NC State in 2006 and her MSIE in 2007. She studied the last mile of humanitarian supply chains for her PhD at Stanford University.

What’s the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department?
I had the opportunity to pursue several research projects while in ISE. They really challenged me and served as fantastic learning experiences that sharpened critical transferrable skills: the ability to learn independently, solve problems creatively and be comfortable with failing fast on the path to innovation.

What’s the most pressing issue facing society that engineers should be working harder to solve?
Our global society is shockingly unequal – depending on where you are born, the options available to you can be wildly different. Solutions are complicated, and engineers are involved in everything from improving infrastructure and the last mile in resource-limited nations, to supporting STEM education in Raleigh, NC. I believe inequality is the biggest problem facing our generation, and industrial engineers are well-positioned to address it.

What would you like to achieve in your career? What are you most proud of so far?
I’m energized by helping organizations solve problems using data and analytics, and I look forward to a career of driving sustainable, fact-based change. In my current role, I get to live this dream as I lead the implementation of multi-echelon inventory optimization for Nike’s replenishment business. We will reduce our safety stock (and annual holding costs) significantly while still supporting aggressive service level targets – a win-win!

If you were not in the engineering field, what would you likely be doing?
I remember so clearly when I first learned about industrial engineering in E101, and recognized the profession that I’d read about in Cheaper by the Dozen as a kid. I was hooked! But if I hadn’t gone down the engineering path, my passion for solving problems with math would have likely led me into a career in statistics. Drawing conclusions from messy data is a powerful way to inform policy.

What advice do you have for current ISE students?
It’s important to be technically excellent and to stay current. Rock stars take this to the next level by also honing two key skills: the ability to deliver results and communicate effectively. Consistently producing at an above-average pace and being able to explain your methods to lay audiences will set you apart.