CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 18, 2017
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Opening session of CSCMP emphasizes the power of storytelling and saying "yes"

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Keynote speaker Matthew Luhn and Distinguished Service Award winner Nancy Nix urged attendees to embrace opportunities to learn new skills that may be outside their comfort zone.

Most of the people sitting in the audience at today's opening session for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) EDGE annual conference were there, at least in part, because they have a love of data. After all supply chain managers are known for speaking in the language of metrics, facts, and figures.

Or as Mary Long, conference chair, said during her presentation, they believe that "facts are friendly" and that data insights should be approached with a sense of curiosity and openness.

But are data and figures enough? The conference's opening keynote speaker Matthew Luhn would say no. Luhn, who has made a career out of crafting blockbuster animated films, such as "Toy Story," "Ratatouille," and "Inside Out" for Pixar Studios, argued that only 5 percent of people remember any statistics that have been shared with them. To help people remember such information, he said, you need to tell them a compelling story. "A story," he said, "is 22 times more memorable than facts alone."

How does that advice apply to supply chain management? Luhn says that your story could be the mission statement or vision for a business, what you want to do to transform your customers' lives, or how you intend to turn the ordinary world upside down.

Storytelling might involve getting supply chain managers out of their comfort zone, but it's those types of experiences that can lead to a person's most important career opportunities and decisions, said Nancy Nix, who was also presented with CSCMP's Distinguished Service Award during the opening session.

"When people give career advice, they often tell you that you need to learn to say no," said Nix. "I am here to tell you about the power of saying yes."

Nix said that it was saying yes to challenging new experiences that have gotten her to where she is today. These experiences include leaving a secure job at DuPont to move to Mumbai, India, to work for Reliance Industries; getting her doctorate at age 52; helping to launch an executive MBA program at Texas Christian University; and now serving as the executive director of Achieving Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education (AWESOME), an organization for women supply chain executives.

"My advice to young women as well as men is just to say yes to opportunities to learn new skills and expand your network," Nix said. "And if you are further along in your career, say yes to opportunities to give back and support those coming behind you."

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