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April 03, 2020
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2019 CSCMP EDGE Conference Report

Here's our roundup of events at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual CSCMP EDGE 2019 conference held in September in Anaheim, California.
Rick Blasgen, CSCMP's president and chief executive officer, speaks during the opening session at EDGE on Monday, September 16 keynote. Photo courtesy of Tessa Schutz from Kranbox Video & Photography.

With its focus on cutting-edge technologies, leadership development, and industry disruptors, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual conference lived up to its new name: CSCMP EDGE. Attendees at the event, held in Anaheim, California, USA, in September, represented 39 countries and all facets of the supply chain. They came both to gain a glimpse of the future of the discipline and to find solutions that they could implement today. For as CSCMP President and CEO Rick Blasgen (at right) said, "Being a supply chain professional means having half of your brain on the future and half on routing freight."

While there, attendees enjoyed three days of educational seminars, the annual Academic Research Symposium, site visits, networking receptions, and the Supply Chain Exchange exposition, which showcased supply chain technologies, equipment, and services.

Not able to attend the conference this year or unable to sample everything that was offered? This roundup will help you fill in some of the gaps. (More articles and videos from the conference can be found at

CSCMP presents 2019 awards for excellence

Every year at its annual conference CSCMP honors individuals and organizations that are helping to push the supply chain discipline to new heights. The following are some of the recognitions given out this year.

  • The 2019 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Kathy Wengel, executive vice president and chief global supply chain officer at healthcare company Johnson & Johnson.
  • The 2019 inductees into CSCMP's Supply Chain Hall of Fame were Wengel; James Casey, founder and former chairman of UPS; Elizabeth Dole, politician, author, and the first woman appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Eliyahu Goldratt, author, philosopher, and business leader who developed a management paradigm called "the theory of constraints"; and George Raymond Sr., inventor of the wooden pallet and pallet jack.
  • Anahi Arzaof consumer goods company Unilever and Parker Holcomb of the freight brokerage company CoLanereceived the 2019 Emerging Leader Award for outstanding supply chain professionals age 35 and under.
  • Maximilian Merathof theUniversity of Mannheim, Germany,won the Doctoral Dissertation Award for his paper"Decision Making in Supply Risk and Supply Disruption Management."
  • The Bernard J. La Londe Best Paper Award was given to Matthew A. Schwieterman, Thomas J. Goldsby, and Keely L. Croxton for "Customer and Supplier Portfolios: Can Credit Risks be Managed Through Supply Chain Relationships?"
  • Alex Scott of Michigan State University, Andrew Balthrop of University of Arkansas, and Jason Miller of Michigan State Universityreceived the E. Grosvenor Plowman Award for their research paper, "Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?"
  • The 2019 Teaching Innovation Award was presented to Stephen Rutner of Texas Tech University, Rebecca Scott of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and JefferyHarper of Texas Tech University for their submission entitled: "Revisiting Promoting the Value of Supply Chain Management to Future Business Leader."

CSCMP session sampler

With three keynote presentations and over 100 educational sessions, CSCMP EDGE 2019 attendees had a wide variety of educational opportunities to choose from. Here are highlights of just a few that sparked interest at the conference.

Retrain your brain. The more successful you are, the harder it can be to innovate. The problem, according to innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche, is that "everyone wants to innovate, but most people don't want to break from the proven path." Gutsche, chief executive officer of Trend Hunter, used an arsenal of humorous stories and personal anecdotes during the opening keynote session to explore what holds companies back from innovating and what they can do to overcome these traps.

Part of the reason for the resistance to change is neurological, says Gutsche. That's because the more expertise and experience you have doing something, the more your brain becomes hardwired into thinking that's the only way to do it. It becomes harder to force yourself to break old habits and offer new products, services, or processes.

Large established companies are not, however, doomed to failure. "Innovation is not fluffy," Gutsche says. "It is a science. You can retrain your brain."

The importance of culture. They don't teach anthropology in supply chain programs, but maybe they should. When it comes to effectively operating a global supply chain with partners all of the world, the ability to understand and navigate different cultures can make or break you.

"Culture works hand in hand with trade," explained John Vogt, president of WWBC LLC, an independent consulting firm focused on strategy and global leadership. Vogt moderated a panel discussion where supply chain and operations executives provided tips and tricks for working with supply chain partners from different countries and navigating the inevitable cultural gaffe.

The biggest challenge, agreed the panelists, was effective communications. So much can be lost in translation through written communications and even in phone calls. Darrell Evans, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer for La-Z-Boy, recommends using video conferencing or physical visits for important issues so that body and facial language can be read.

10 steps to automate your warehouse. The path from a nonautomated warehouse to an automated one is not easy, fast, or cheap, says Wes Whalberg, director of supply chain engineering at Best Buy. Companies should consider the benefits, however, when asking the question "Why automate?" These can include labor savings, creating room for potential growth, and space and networking savings, he said. Whalberg detailed the 10-step program his company followed and the lessons learned from automating its distribution network. For companies considering the investment into their supply chain capabilities, consider following these steps:

  1. Define "the burning platform"—What is the problem you are going to solve for the company?
  2. Build a coalition—Recruit a broad set of executives who all share the same problem and are willing to help with the transformation.
  3. Get outside help—Acquire funding for a consultant.
  4. Look for a solution—The consultant will send out a request for proposal (RFP) to integrators. Select an integrator;
  5. Acquire funding—Make sure to include facility readiness costs (such as power and physical changes to the building), IT investments, additional consulting support, and contingency plans into your funding request.
  6. Document initial design and specifications—Make any needed changes to the original RFP and create the initial design.
  7. Make final engineering changes—Lock down the layout of your system and submit building permit plans.
  8. Begin construction—Make sure to consider how the general contractor and systems integrator will work together.
  9. Go live—Expect to find unforeseen issues and software defects in your first initial runs.
  10. Review how things are running—Give your company about a year to identify and take advantage of second-order benefits and mitigate second-order impacts.

New CSCMP board members begin their terms

CSCMP EDGE also marked the start of the 2019-2020 term for the association's board of directors. The following members officially took office at CSCMP's annual meeting, which was held during the conference:

  • Board of Directors Chair: Michelle Meyer, SCPro client executive of supply chain, at Gartner
  • Immediate Past Chair: Mark S. Baxa, president and chief executive officer, at FerniaCreek LLC
  • Board Chair-Elect: Brian Gibson, Wilson Family Professor of Supply Chain Management, Auburn University
  • Board Vice Chair: Lee Beard, senior director of global transportation, Nike
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Paul R. Brown, IBP business process owner, Americas, at Akzo Nobel N.V.

The CSCMP Board of Directors is responsible for voting on the mission, vision, and goals of CSCMP on an annual basis and helping the organization understand the needs and wants of its members. 


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