Love Will Find a Way

Levi Strauss & Co.
July 27, 2015

Q&A with David Love, Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer & Chief Transformation Officer, LS&Co.

When David Love joined Levi Strauss & Co. in the U.K. as a plant engineer, it wasn’t because he was an avid fan of Levi’s products. In fact, he’d never even owned a pair of Levi’s jeans. His reason for accepting the position was pretty simple: He needed a job. Little did he know the job — his first after university — would turn into a storied career at LS&Co., spanning more than 30 years.

During his tenure, David has held a variety of roles around the globe, from manufacturing in the U.K. to product development in Brussels to global sourcing in Singapore to global supply chain in San Francisco, and spearheading the creation of our Eureka Innovation Lab.

Recently, David was named executive vice president & CSCO/CTO. The promotion recognizes his valuable contributions, including his leadership in transforming the company’s supply chain capabilities and driving operational excellence & profitability.

We had the opportunity to chat with David about his role, how he keeps innovating and what excites him about LS&Co.’s future.

What’s a favorite part of your job?

My team. They are a great group and they do great work. They challenge each other and they challenge me, but when it’s time to decide and act, they get it done! I’m also thoroughly enjoying the Global Productivity Initiative as I’m learning a ton about all aspects of our business.

What about your work would surprise people?

Most people think of the supply chain at Levi’s, and supply chains in general, is all about science, but there’s actually a lot of art. The most obvious manifestation of that is our Eureka Innovation Lab. But beyond that, we really have to foster a lot of creativity with our vendors. We rely heavily on them to partner with us to bring industry leading product innovation to our consumers. So the creative piece is a big part of what we do and where we spend our time.

What’s kept you at LS&Co.?

I feel I have unfinished business here. I want to contribute to the success that I firmly believe we’re poised to achieve. I’ve been with the company during the height of its greatness, and what is exciting and motivating is that we’re getting back there. We’re on a path where being ‘great again” is within our grasp. 

Describe an initiative you’re proud of.

I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve accomplished with our Eureka Innovation Lab, which has far exceeded my original expectations. However the one I’m most proud of is the one I believe created the most value for our company, and that was taking the supply chain and taking my leadership team global a few years back. We shifted away from a regional structure and began installing talented leaders of global functions within supply chain. That started to unlock tremendous value by eliminating complexity, clarifying accountabilities and speeding up decision making. It made it much easier to get things done, and I believe the results speak for themselves. And I have to mention my pride in our industry leadership position on sustainability. I was around for the visionary launch of Terms of Engagement 20 plus years ago, and it’s gratifying to continue our leadership with the Worker’s Well Being initiative.

What has working at LS&Co. taught you?

That complexity is a killer. And the opposite is also true: There is tremendous power in simplicity and focus.

What drives you to keep innovating?

The thought that if you’re standing still, people are sprinting past you. Also, my early career was in industrial engineering, where the entire mindset is about “how can I make that better, how can I eliminate inefficiency or redundancy?” So that mindset is engrained in how I run the business. The desire to constantly explore and challenge and improve — it’s a part of my DNA.

What excites you most about the future of LS&Co.?

For the first time in many years, we’re starting to believe in and to unleash the power of our brands. We’re getting focused, we’re simplifying, and we’re eliminating the complexity that’s distracted us from being consumer-focused and prevented us from investing in growth. There’s much hard work still to be done of course, but I know the true potential of this company, and it’s exciting that we’re beginning to fulfill that potential.


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