The planning community mourns the loss of one of its leading figures and most ardent champions. Alan Lee Milliken passed away on July 13 in Pensacola, FL.
Alan was a loving husband to his wife of 46 years, Elizabeth, and a proud father to two sons, Roger and Mark. For the team at IBF, he was a much respected colleague, trainer and educator. He shared his knowledge at countless IBF conferences over the course of two decades and guided multiple businesses across the globe to planning maturity through our consulting programs.
A native of Alabama, he graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University, followed by an MBA at Clemson University, SC. In 1984 he started his career at chemicals giant BASF, where he would spend nearly four decades working in various supply chain and planning roles, only stepping down in 2019 to pursue his own supply chain consulting practice. In his latter years at BASF he led their internal supply chain planning education and development, sharing his wealth of experience to empower the next generation of planning leaders.
From those that knew him or saw him speak at a conference, his passion for teaching was clear. Giving back to the community – whether it was at BASF, an industry conference, or on an individual basis – was his north star in life. He was generous with his time and knowledge, always willing to discuss, engage and lend a hand. Modest and humble, he put himself out there not for the spotlight but to give back, personifying the IBF’s mission to Learn, Share, and Advance.
He was at the top of his field in terms of knowledge and expertise, for which he was recognized by the IBF who awarded him the Excellence in Forecasting and Planning Award in 2013, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Speaking of his contributions to the field, colleague and friend Patrick Bower said, “When Alan presented at conferences, he laced his deep knowledge with anecdotes, humor, folksy stories, and meaningful metaphors; literally helping thousands of people learn the profession. I would go out of my way to listen to Alan present to help me better articulate complex supply chain concepts.
He introduced me as the IBF’s Excellence in Forecasting winner in 2012, and I him in 2013. Prior to presenting each other, we chatted on the phone and talked about our lifework, what drove us and why we found the work interesting. He told me he felt a duty to give back to the profession as a way to pay forward those that helped him along the way.”
Alan wrote extensively for the Journal of Business Forecasting, having written no less than a dozen articles from 2001 to 2023. The latest article appeared in our last special issue – the editorial team having reached out to him specifically to contribute his knowledge.
That article, about connecting supply chain planning to enterprise strategy, was classic Milliken, delving into both high level strategy and the nuances of operational planning that only somebody with four decades in the field could write. I encourage you to take a look at his body of work in the Journal.
Speaking of his personal and professional relationship with Alan, Editor in Chief, Dr. Chaman Jain, had the following to say: “He was a great friend – very sincere, trustworthy and helpful. He possessed a vast knowledge of demand planning. Any time I had a question or wanted a different perspective, I would turn to Alan. He would always take the time to clarify something or share his thoughts. I am going to miss him.”
He was also a key contributor to the Fundamentals of Forecasting and Demand Planning, one of the seminal works in the demand planning field.
With his easy, southern style and warm demeanor, he was every inch the gentleman. In sharing his knowledge for the benefit of others, he was a tireless advocate for the supply chain discipline. For his students, he was a much-loved and inspirational mentor. He will be missed dearly.
Thank you, Alan.
The IBF team.
Alan’s family has created this Life Tributes page where loved ones can share memories and express condolences.