The labor shortage in the supply chain field comes down to one simple issue according to Mandy Rennehan, the CEO of the facilities management company FreshCo: “We suck at marketing.”
Speaking at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP’s) annual EDGE conference, Rennehan said that “some of the best humans” work in supply chain management, but the field in general does a terrible job of communicating what supply chain is and its value to society.
“How are you going to attract talent if they don’t even know what you do?” Rennehan, who is known as the “blue-collar CEO,” bluntly asked attendees.
To attract more young people to jobs into the industry, Rennehan said attendees need to better understand what potential employees are looking for. “The days of people just showing up for a job and going home at night are over,” she said. “People don’t want a job, they want a purpose.”
The need to value the work is especially the case for the blue-collar jobs that provide the backbone of the supply chain. “The pandemic exposed a major pothole of your industry,” she said. “We have a systemic trade issue, and it’s been happening for decades. But we keep sending our kids to college and universities [instead of trade schools] because we believe that’s how they’re going to get respect. No.”
Throughout her opening keynote address, Rennehan shared her own life story of how she hustled her way from working in the trades to creating a multi-million dollar facilities and retail construction company. She used her own experiences to illustrate the value of blue-collar work and importance of relating to people across class, gender, race, and educational lines. As a lesbian in a field dominated by men, Rennehan attributes her success to embracing her own differences while also being relatable and finding common cause with those who have different backgrounds from her own.