$1.8 Billion Worth of Sexy!

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Earlier in the week as I was doing my morning read of Supply Chain related news, I ran across three+ articles that all seemed to coalesce in my brain.  First, “Why Don’t People think Supply Chain is Sexy? where the author tries to convince us why it is just that.  While I agree with everything he said, when he started to talk about information, systems, data sources, big data, etc., he lost me on the sexy part.

Next, I picked up several articles on the United Parcel Service (UPS – Fortune 50) acquisition of Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion.  Coyote is a Chicago based 3rd party logistics company which matches cargo that needs shipping with truckers who have capacity. Today, Coyote arranges shipments through a network of 35,000 trucking firms BUT was nothing more than a start-up in 2006.  Part of the magic of Coyote is its CEO Jeff Silver who I met at a Supply Chain conference in 2010 where he was a speaker.  Mr. Silver talked about hiring mostly Big 10 college grads right of school who were former athletes and had an entrepreneurial spirit.  He, himself did not have an office – he worked on the floor with the team and lead by example.  My son graduated in 2010 and many of his classmates and friends went to work at Coyote.  When I asked why, I was told “it was a cool place to work” (code for sexy).  Those same kids are still there, have learned a lot, made a good living and are looking forward to being part of UPS.  I’d call that sexy!

Next, I read “What Does the Future Hold for the Supply Chain Work Force?”  In this article three very senior Supply Chain leaders discuss what it will take to find, train and retain talent going forward and how to build the workforce for 2025.  2025?  That is TEN years from now?  Why are we thinking that far ahead?  I’ll tell you why – SEXY!   Supply Chain, as a discipline is HOT!!  This is evidenced by all the colleges and universities that have developed undergrad and graduate majors and certificate programs to fill the overwhelming need.  In fact, The Mpower Group is working with two local and one regional university to help them get their programs off the ground.  I certainly never thought that when I started doing Sourcing/Suppy Chain XX number of years ago that it would still be alive and growing today.  In fact, it is THE place to be!

So here is my take on what makes Supply Chain sexy 🙂 :

  • Any company that provides goods or services to an end customer has a Supply Chain (lots of jobs)
  • There are NUMEROUS (go look – I did) definitions of Supply Chain – much confusion = much opportunity
  • Supply Chains are becoming more complex (global, cross-discipline, cross-industry, virtual)
  • Supply Chain is starting to make its way into the C-Suite (we are getting a seat at the table)
  • Supply Chain has tremendous variety (product development, purchasing, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, warehousing, consulting, etc.) so you’ll never be bored
  • HUGE change management challenges – that’s the fun part
  • Skill set is HIGHLY transferable – many top CEOs have had a stint in Supply Chain
  • Many top ranking companies are differentiated by their Supply Chain
    • Amazon
    • McDonald’s
    • Disney
    • IBM
    • Apple
    • Fed Ex
    • Proctor & Gamble
    • UPS
    • Nike
    • Toyota

Whether I convinced you that Supply Chain is sexy or not, it is one of the hottest disciplines of our time.  So thinking ahead to 2025 is critical and workforce planning needs to be at the top of your list.  You have heard from us MANY times about the war on talent for Supply Chain organizations and IT IS REAL.  We have many clients that are struggling to hire and retain good people and it is going to get worse.  So if you have not given this much thought you need to NOW.  First and foremost, Supply Chains are run by people and ensuring you have the right people with the right skills (read this article – strategic (AKA soft) skills trump functional skills) is essential.  Is Supply Chain sexy  – ask that new UPS subsidiary 🙂 !

 Join in the conversation and let us know what you think . . . . . 

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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