CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 16, 2018
Chain Reactions

Chain Reactions

Letters to the editor

Let's expand the pool of supply chain talent

In the supply chain field, we have many challenges on the talent front. Most of what we are collectively doing is devoted to being more attractive to a limited talent pool than our competitors are. But the real key to success in the talent arena is to expand the talent pool itself.

To listen to some academics, nothing matters but the bright young people earning university degrees. Degreed professionals are important, but we also need many thousands more nondegreed workers. We have to recognize that 75 percent (give or take) of supply chain jobs do not require a four-year degree from a university—but that doesn't mean all of those jobs are limited to toiling in a dank, dark warehouse, either. Our problem is that we are failing to create an ongoing stream of qualified and motivated people to fill those nondegreed jobs: people who enter the field on purpose rather than by accident or as a last resort. Sadly, the many programs directed at training forklift drivers and order pickers present a limited, and borderline negative, view of the rich and intricate tapestry of opportunities the supply chain profession provides.

Here in Ohio, we are developing a program that is designed to inform and to attract high school audiences to consider supply chain careers—whether they are interested in Ohio State University, a community college, a vocational education program, or a little training/certification so that they can go to work—and to ensure there will be jobs for them to go to. Our vision is to acquaint young people with the possibilities offered by the profession and divert them into appropriate developmental channels, early enough that they can enter the field educated, trained, and ready to be productive.

We think this will deliver competitive advantage. It will also continue to fill the talent pipeline so that we are not constantly fighting the talent shortage battle. It will give more people decent jobs at decent wages, often in communities in which there are not many traditional opportunities.

Art van Bodegraven
Managing principal
Van Bodegraven Associates
Powell, Ohio, USA

Open students' eyes to SCM as a profession

Recently I taught a seminar for the Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at California State University's Fresno-Craig School of Business. The purpose of this one-day workshop was to introduce the discipline of supply chain management to the MBA students in a way that integrates traditional business topics such as finance, accounting, management, and manufacturing into an enterprisewide, systemwide view. My curriculum was based on the eight SCPro building blocks (created by CSCMP) and the Guiding Principles of the Lean Fulfillment Stream (from LeanCor).

The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive, and it inspired me to write to you. We have been talking about the talent crisis in supply chain and logistics; meanwhile, the discipline is not taught at enough universities. In fact, some schools have even cut their logistics programs due to low student enrollments. Why? The natural conclusion would be that students and young professionals don't find the field interesting or promising as a career. After my experience teaching, I respectfully disagree and believe the problem to be the low level of marketing we do for supply chain and logistics. After I taught my students about the amazing diversity of our profession, the opportunities for supply chain professionals to be seen as "Most Valued Player" at their companies, and the success stories of Amazon, Walmart, Macy's, and others, I saw their eyes lighting up one by one. The students' feedback speaks for itself:

"I have learned most of what I now know about supply chain management through this brief, yet very informative course. Before this class, I thought of SCM as only having to do with transportation. I have learned that I have a lot to learn, and a good reason to learn it. Thank you for the enlightening class."

"Thank you for the awesome class last week, it was a really interesting topic that has not been covered enough in our MBA program or undergraduate courses. During this program I have become increasingly interested in operations and SCM. I would like to find direction in my career to take the necessary steps into the field."

So where are the future generations of supply chain professionals hiding, you ask? At every business school around the world! All we need to do is teach them the secrets of our profession with enthusiasm, and our talent crisis will be a tale of the past.

Susanna Sterling-Bodnar
Director, Supply Chain Solutions
LeanCor Supply Chain Group
Florence, Kentucky, USA

CSCMP's annual conference inspired new ideas

Last year, when a friend invited me to join CSCMP and attend the Annual Global Conference in Denver, I decided to go and experience more of what my friend promised was a great organization.

I can tell you that it was even better than promised. So full of passionate, great leaders and members! I could see the energy flowing out of the people gathered together to network and learn about the supply chain.

The learning was great, the networking could not have been better, and the general sessions opened my mind to an explosion of ideas. I came home full of energy and ideas, and charged with innovation and enthusiasm.

As a Mexican national, hearing Felipe Calderón speak about the great future opportunities for Mexico was pretty relevant to me. (A big thanks to the team who took me backstage for a photo with him, that was awesome!) The story of Tesla Motors was so inspirational. I was already intrigued by their story and what I think is their potential to make history, but hearing about the struggles, challenges, and opportunities they have faced really put a human face on this great supply chain and innovation story.

The biggest impact for me came from Mike Rayburn's keynote presentation about innovation. The company I work for is big in innovation. I can tell you that all the innovation training, reading material, and videos I have seen over the last couple of years came to life when I heard Rayburn deliver his innovation message.

Coincidentally, during a networking lunch the Monday prior to Rayburn's talk, I was talking to a student about innovation. I remember saying, "I wish I was innovative, but I'm not." After hearing Rayburn, the innovation message really hit home. I could not sleep for a few nights after the conference because so many ideas kept coming into my head, and I had to get up and write them down.

I was wrong. I am innovative, we are all innovative—we simply need to give ourselves permission to be that way.

Today, I'm working on three innovation-related projects! I have presented one supply chain-related innovation idea to my company. Additionally, my friend who invited me to join CSCMP, some other supply chain professionals, and I together have created a roundtable for Peoria, Illinois, USA. All of these things happened because I gave myself permission to check out what CSCMP was all about. Needless to say, it was the best education investment I have made so far.

Keep up the great work, CSCMP team, and see you in San Antonio!

Javier R. Zarazua
Undercarriage Black Belt—Strategic Sourcing
Caterpillar Inc.
Peoria, Illinois, USA

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