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Flex CEO on keeping the global supply chain going amid COVID-19

August 13, 2021, 8:15 PM UTC

Flex may be one of the world’s biggest companies that isn’t a household name. Big as in around $24 billion in revenue big, clocking in at No. 499 on this year’s Fortune Global 500 list.

Led by CEO Revathi Advaithi, Flex is the third-largest manufacturing company in the world. The company has 130 manufacturing locations and more than 160,000 employees.

“We make products that you probably touch every day, everything you can think of, from medical products to consumer products that you use in your home to automotive components,” Advaithi says.

But those products rarely mention Flex on the packaging. “We design and manufacture mainly for our customers,” Advaithi says.

That puts Flex squarely in the center of the world’s supply chains. Products ranging from semiconductors to toilet paper were sent into a scramble with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was Advaithi’s second year as CEO of the company.

“The responsibility was very significant, because the biggest issue was a human crisis,” Advaithi says. “So, when you’re asking 5,000 people to show up in a factory to make a product, the first thing that was on my mind was, How do you do it in a safe way? Should you even ask them to show up? What is the right thing to do?”

Advaithi joins Fortune CEO Alan Murray on a recent episode of Leadership Next, a podcast about the changing rules of business leadership. (Cohost Ellen McGirt was on vacation for the week.) Listen to the full episode below.

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