Building Best-in-Class Supply Chain Teams

Developing Supply Chain Talent:

Although aptitude & previous experience can go a long way, organizations and their management must commit to providing the development plans that will build the skills necessary for the next generation of supply chain talent. The most important elements include rotating talent into different roles & geographies, exposing them to senior leadership & providing them with tangible tools for success.

Visibility among leadership:

Supply chain’s long-standing image problem has at times masked the true importance of the function. Those who oversimplified the function as merely a means to transport products and parts from point A to point B often overlooked its strategic significance. As organizations today have become more complex and global, supply chain management has been charged with keeping pace. From R&D and product innovation to M&A and customer development, supply chain can touch nearly every aspect of the business. In light of the growing demands of the function and its rising prominence in global organizations, the game has been raised for supply chain leaders and their teams.

Combating supply chain's image problem:

The most effective supply chain leaders are increasing their focus on building agile teams with the broad capabilities needed to manage an end-to-end supply chain. To do this, supply chain leaders (and their organizations) must commit to hiring and developing well-rounded supply chain executives with strategic orientation, business savvy, analytical skills, financial acumen, global perspective and broad knowledge of the organization. Leaders may need to look outside their industries to selectively add capabilities from best-in-class sectors and organizations, and also work to attract and retain the best and brightest young people into the function.


The economic downturn tested the mettle of many organizations and demanded a more holistic, collaborative approach to weather the storm. In turn, management began to lean more heavily on supply chain leaders, drawing on their mix of short term and long term planning abilities and ideas to cut costs. Strategic business savvy and global perspective emerged as more essential characteristics for supply chain leaders.

Making the function more attractive & Rotation:

Build a supply chain foundation. Early exposure to parts of the business that deal with a certain leg of the function, such as warehouse management or supplier negotiations. Demonstrate leadership growth within these roles. Broaden your experience. Supply chain experience alone will not be enough. Diversify your background by working in other functional areas, such as sales, manufacturing or general management.

Gain international perspective:

As many supply chain leaders noted, there is no substitute for international experience. Engage in the cultures of the organizations for which you plan to work. Understand the big picture. In order to excel in an increasingly strategic role, it is vital to understand the business and cultural expectations from the board and C-suite. Develop interpersonal savvy. Get in the habit of acting as a catalyst of relevant conversations, establishing rapport quickly to help develop influence and building your network.

Presented By,

Zeeshan Ilyas, CSCA,CSCM

Connecting, Innovating & Inspiring on a Global Level !

Startup Mentor & Supply Chain Coach

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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