Ready. Together: The evolving need for supply chain talent

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Kinaxis CEO John Sicard onstage during Kinexions '22
Kinaxis CEO John Sicard takes the stage for the opening address at Kinexions '22 in San Diego, California. 

A common theme in a number of sessions during Kinexions ‘22 was the evolving role of supply chain talent (and where to find that talent), which is interesting to me because of the increased visibility and demand for planners. 

Supply chain is now common parlance – you can have a conversation and mention supply chain, and people will instantly have some level of understanding about what you do. A few years ago, that wasn’t the case and would lead to a lengthy discussion about what supply chains are, why they are important, and what you do in that space. 

COVID-19 created a major shift in the way organizations are working with supply chain planners, which was highlighted in the Kinexions ’22 Customer Panel: Managing Your Supply Chain Through Disruption, with panelists Ben-Marvin Egle from Lippert, Jamie Harshman of L3Harris and Jabil’s Lizet Tymon, as moderated by Jay Muelhoefer of Kinaxis.

As mentioned by Ben-Marvin, working with planners was previously more transactional; as in, “Can you send me this piece of information? Or can you get me this piece of data?” Personally, I think planners during those times were unsung heroes. Either you did your job and things were on time and on budget, which is what was expected, or you got in trouble if KPIs weren’t met.

Now in our post-pandemic world, there is a lot more admiration and visibility for keeping organizations operational. And the mindset has shifted to, as Ben-Marvin put it: “Let’s try to solve this problem together and come out with the best solution for everybody!” To me, that means no longer having sales try to fix a customer’s problem, or having purchasing fix a purchasing problem. 

The lines of communication are more open than ever to figuring out the best end-to-end solution, not just for a specific issue, but for the entire organization.

A new focus on impactful (not just urgent) work

A key change we’ve seen recently is in how planners can best use their skills. There’s also been a focused change from what is the most urgent thing we need to be addressing, to what is going to be the most impactful thing we need to be working on. This is a huge shift for the profession.

Jamie talked about how this helps boost employee satisfaction because they can see the improvements when performing their daily activities, and the associated recognition for the important work they do. 

This is important because, as Lizet mentioned, the great resignation has had a huge impact and left companies struggling to find quality talent. However, attracting and retaining those top employees is what will make your organization more successful. As Lizet said, the right technology helps but it doesn’t run itself – it requires people that are driven and adaptable. After all, as Kinaxis likes to say: “Supply chains are human.”

I believe that it’s a great time to be in supply chain planning. As Kinaxis CEO John Sicard stated during his Kinexions ‘22 opening address: “You’ve been tested, you’ve been challenged, and together we have prevailed.”

And we will continue to prevail… together!

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