In September of 2022 at the CSCMP Edge Conference, some of the supply chain industry’s top leaders offered invaluable insights into the industry’s current challenges and opportunities. These insights stimulated thought-provoking discussions among presenters and attendees alike. Here are six of my biggest takeaways from that conference:
#1 - Connections are more important than ever.
The pandemic had a seismic impact on nearly every aspect of our working lives. One of the most significant is the shift to virtual meetings, collaborations, and communication. Many of us now work primarily with colleagues and clients through a screen. However, there are two things about our professional connections that haven’t changed. First, even virtually, we are making real and impactful connections with people, and the value of those relationships should not be discounted because they were formed in digital spaces. Second, coming together in person - shaking hands, fist-bumping, and breaking bread - is as important and exciting as ever. As the world continues to open back up safely, we should continue to take every opportunity to see one another face to face.
#2 - We all need a strong support network.
Angelo Ventrone with Uline and Tim Babcock with Grainger hosted a panel on Collaborating Across Business Cycles, in which they discussed the value of working relationships and the importance of having professional connections you can count on when disruptions occur or when you need a little extra help. After all, Supply Chain’s middle name is Disruption. Relationship-building is key to developing those support networks, made even stronger by building chemistry through in-person interactions, so that you can feel comfortable calling a supplier or a carrier and saying, “I’ve got a situation. Can you help me?”
#3 - Admitting mistakes is a strength - and a necessity.
Karl Siebrecht with Flexe hosted Town Hall sessions that emphasized how much the supply chain industry relies on data analysis and the demand planning that goes into production, setting us up for success. However, he also provided concrete examples from the supply chain industry, as well as from Wall Street and the NFL, that prove even the experts can get things wrong. The worst thing for an industry leader to do in the face of mistakes is to cling to their pride and refuse to acknowledge their missteps. Instead, supply chain executives should be planning for success - while understanding that no predictive processes are perfect, being adaptable, and pivoting business decisions when things don’t go according to plan.
#4 - Talent management is a top priority.
In many sessions, talent management (including acquisition and retention) was either the main topic or was brought up during the discussion. More and more companies are aware of the evolving workforce and how in our current market, much of the power has shifted from the employer to the employee. Industry leaders are implementing a wide range of strategies (from offering free Spotify accounts to scheduling regular career goal-oriented conversations with individual employees) to attract top talent and improve employee retention.
#5 - Women in the industry are making their mark.
The conference’s Women Leaders Forum was an impressive and inspirational presentation. The executives on the panel represented a broad spectrum of supply chain industry roles, gave great insights on the need for collaboration as a strategic advantage, and showed the strength of female leadership in the industry. As a father of two young women, I was proud and inspired to see a panel full of women who are role models to my daughters and many others.
#6 - The 5 x 25 Approach will lead the industry into the future.
Mark Baxa presented CSCMP’s “5 x 25 Approach” to education and talent development and it is, in a word, visionary. This strategic approach to growing the talent pool for supply chain professionals, in part by educating students who will make up the next generation of workers about the opportunities within the industry, will not only create a pipeline of available talent by their target year of 2025, but can also create momentum moving forward and serve the supply chain industry for years to come.
CSCMP Edge provided great opportunities to network within, learn about, and engage with all the exciting changes and developments in the supply chain industry. As an industry, we have a lot of exciting things to look forward to.