CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 16, 2017
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What we do for the world

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Supply chains—and supply chain managers—make the world a better place, playing an essential (but often unheralded) role in enabling economic success.

Earlier this year, members of CSCMP's board of directors and I had the pleasure of attending the Panama Logistics Summit in that country's capital city of Panamá. The well-attended event was organized by the Cámara Marítima de Panamá (maritime chamber of Panama) and co-hosted by CSCMP's Panama Roundtable in collaboration with the University of Arkansas.

As a global organization with members in more than 70 countries, CSCMP was proud to play a leading role in this important international conference. I gave the opening presentation, titled "Global Perspectives." Then Kevin Smith, chairman of CSCMP's board of directors, moderated a question-and-answer session on global supply chains with a panel of CSCMP board members.

Before the panel began, Kevin offered a thoughtful commentary on supply chain managers' view of the world and on the role we play in making that world run smoothly. His thoughts echo my own, so I'd like to share a few highlights from his presentation:

Most of the world takes what we do for granted. The efficient movement of goods and an endless supply of food, water, and clothing are simply "expected." It's when things fail to happen as expected that supply chains get attention. Fortunately, supply chain professionals are not just operators, we are also problem solvers, and we manage risk, resilience, and recovery as much as we do planning and execution.

Supply chains are critical enablers of the world's economies. The ability to source raw materials, convert those materials into a desirable product, move them close to a specific market, and supply the end consumer at an acceptable price is the key to success in commercial markets. To make that happen requires being able to source, make, move, and sell products in the right quantities, at the right time, in the right place, and at the right price.

Supply chains contribute to both the top and bottom lines of the balance sheet. Supply chains contribute revenue to the top line primarily through carefully cultivated relationships with commercial partners. When times get tough, many buying decisions are made based on how easy it is to deal with a supplier. On the bottom line, supply chain managers are among the best at saving money and reducing operating costs. It is simply what we do.

A career in the supply chain industry is an important and rewarding calling. Supply chains improve the standard of living around the world. Because of effective supply chain management, more food reaches the table in an edible condition and less goes to waste, more people have access to clean water, and electricity and fuels are more readily available.

As Kevin also pointed out, gross domestic product (GDP) is very much dependent on supply chains to move and deliver goods and services to consumers. But I think we all can agree that supply chain management is not just about commerce. It's also about making the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

Rick Blasgen is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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