Hayden Wolf ’22
Internship: Supply Chain Intern, Driscoll’s, Watsonville, California
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Clubs & Affiliations: Food, Agribusiness, and Beverage Club; SOM Golf Club; Yale Center for Business & the Environment; admission interviewer
Favorite SOM Class: State & Society
Favorite SOM Professors: James Baron, Peter Schott, Mushfiq Mobarak, Saed Alizamir
Favorite New Haven eatery: Nolo
I worked on the supply chain team of Driscoll’s for 10 weeks in Central Coastal California. My team worked with virtually every other function at the company and was responsible for the operations at the distribution centers in North America.
My role was a mix of data analysis and integrating technology into existing processes—I split time between our HQ office in Watsonville, partner “ranches” where berries are grown, and the distribution centers where berries are received before being sent out to customers.
My main project was working on an operations optimization problem for the warehouse operations team. It was kind of like a 10-week long Operations Engine homework problem: Every distribution center receives a continuous flow of berries fresh from the ranches when the season is in full swing, so being able to smoothly receive, palletize, cool, and ship everything is critical. My job was to figure out how to most efficiently move berries that are ready for shipment to trucks during the busiest times of the day when production is at full capacity.
The concepts and language we used in Operations Engine prepared me to be more comfortable in having a conceptual framework for what was happening from my first day on the job. Most of the people who work in food and agriculture are interested in the wider implications of what’s going on in the industry, so it was common to engage in topics like land use and labor dynamics, which I felt well versed in from discussion in classes like Workforce and State & Society. The most challenging part of my project was finding the right sets of information to correctly frame the problem I was working on, which is something we were trained to do working within the raw case method during core courses. Outside of coursework, spending time at SOM makes you internalize how important it is to take an empathetic approach to problem solving, which is a very useful tool working within something as complex as the food system.
There were plenty of opportunities to get to know people within the company, learn about the organization, and understand the produce industry in general—everyone was very generous with their time. The whole company would gather to eat lunch together on Tuesdays and enjoy happy hours on Thursdays.
I was awarded a “Top Berry Taster” for being in the top 10% of the most active participants of the experimental breed tasting program—I ate a lot of new blueberries when I was at the office. It was fun feeling like a part of the company’s mission to “win with flavor” and getting to see how new products are developed.
I was fortunate in that the company encouraged me to be in-person for the summer, and being able to see the supply chain in action made the learning experience more impactful. Walking through the refrigerated coolers almost every day, visiting the breeding ranches, and getting to meet so many people in person gave me an honest perspective of being a part of Driscoll’s culture.