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Stormy Weather Ahead? Then Prepare for it!

Feb. 13, 2014

Any type of process improvement program requires good talent that has a fundamental understanding of both Supply Chain & Logistics concepts and also provides the proper tools and training to analyze and improve it.

While there are many Universities that offer great Supply Chain Programs such as Lehigh University where I teach, a recent article entitled “A Supply Chain Talent “Perfect Storm””points out that there are “a number of key emerging trends that individually create tension and potential disruptions in the supply chain talent pool. Either of those on their own can create challenges for a supply chain organization similar to a hurricane or a severe winter gale. At the same time, like The (movie) Perfect Storm, there is the prospect of these trends colliding to create a supply chain talent “perfect storm.””

The authors mention that demand for Supply Chain talent is projected to continue to rise, while the talent gap will become greater as baby boomers start retiring. That, combined with the increased need for technical skills in a more complex global economy and a possible shortage in Supply Chain University faculty in the coming years may be the impetus for a “perfect storm” of sorts.

We all know how accurate the weather forecasts have been lately, so no need to panic in my opinion. However, it is important though to think strategically to avoid potential obstacles like this.

The paper also points out the need to plan ahead by focusing on the employee value proposition (i.e. opportunity, rewards, etc), making sure you hire people with the right “core competencies”, focusing on retention methods, investing in talent and leadership development and helping to create a “talent pipeline” by working with High Schools and Universities to develop the talent.

I know that we’re trying to do our part at Lehigh University by encouraging business students to consider Supply Chain as a major (or minor) while giving them a great fundamental understanding of Supply Chain and Operations Management practical concepts and applications (and actual experience through internships and team projects). We also help them to develop the skills and abilities necessary to understand and use the various tools and technology available today in order to manage and improve the Supply Chain process in this complex global economy.

The authors of the aforementioned article emphasize the need for a tighter industry-academic collaboration to help avoid this “perfect storm”.

I believe that if Supply Chain organizations prepare properly in this regard (and in general) and take the “long view” to plan ahead, they will be able to ride out this or any storm successfully.

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