Organisations face huge supply change disruption and need leaders with operational expertise who can address mounting ESG issues. From major global firms to regional businesses, this crossover talent pool is not increasing in-line with exponential market growth and competition is intensifying.
Here, Alex Berman, Partner in our Industrial Technologies practice and Supply Chain Lead, looks at how companies should focus on hiring not just today, but for tomorrow, for future thinkers who understand risk in a rapidly changing world.
From building equipment to tomatoes on our supermarket shelves, the issue of supply chain disruption has not been far from the everyday conversation in recent times.
In an ever-interconnected global society, we are reliant on millions of logistics employees to play their part in bringing the world to our door. And it is only when it breaks do we notice its importance.
But there is one area of the process that is not as often regarded as critical to the success of a salad niçoise or creating new digital systems: talent.
And, while the universal shortage of workers across the entire supply chain, procurement and operational landscape is no secret, it is the challenge posed at a leadership and management level that brings with it specific pipeline problems.
Operational excellence for business-as-usual now must be combined with deep insight into solving tomorrow’s problems through an ESG lens.
This sits against economic and geo-political instability and a potential major relocation of global trade. According to Capgemini, 25% of global trade is set to relocate in the next three years, and a fifth admit they feel ‘ill-equipped’ to handle supply chain disruption.
According to the consultancy, “the geographical distribution of supplier bases is set to transition from majority global to local by 2026 – reversing a 57:43 split”.
Of course, businesses involved in supply are masters in adaptation to both large and small shifts in human development – the history of transport itself is largely one of technological innovation.
However, for the first time in our history, we are experiencing a united existential threat. The global supply chain now stands at the root of solving some of the major issues related to achieving Net Zero and beyond.
As the workforce continues to flex post-pandemic, businesses also have to increasingly apply the ingenuity and innovation usually reserved for logistics to creating their own talent pipeline.
Even those who are not directly involved in the supply chain will be aware of what happens when it goes wrong.
Whether its General Motor’s robot disaster in the 1980s or the ‘great KFC chicken shortage’ in 2018, people from all walks of life understand the reputational damage and impact business mismanagement can create.
The same can be said of the talent supply chain. Over the years, we have spoken with countless businesses who have hired the wrong procurement or operations person and the results – while not so public – have been damaging and, in some cases, long-term.
Unquestionably, adding ESG, the circular economy, digitisation and complete outsourcing through 4PLs – the list goes on – requires new thinking, new approaches and new people.
It cannot be understated how important this is as growth predictions show no signs of halting either. In 2020, the global supply chain management market was valued at $15.85 billion and is expected to reach almost $31 billion by 2026.
As any business seeking smooth economic and logistical operations, this combination requires some serious thinking.
As with the supply chain process itself, in talent searching, you get what you plan for.
So, what can you do?
1. Boards need to seek new leaders and management from a far wider base
Understanding your business needs in this new world, often means recalibrating your search metrics. Searching from a wider set of locations, sectors and talent pools is essential. Looking at new-world thinkers may also mean reviewing people from unconventional backgrounds, so opening your mind to other ways of viewing the recruitment process is recommended.
2. Invest internally to uncover skills and next-gen leaders
Essential to the next stage of development for supply chain leadership is an investment in the existing workforce. The logistics industry is made up of many moving parts each with its own specific area of expertise. Looking at the cross-pollination of how skills can be transferred and developing new areas of skills is a vital component for any organisation seeking competitive advantage in the years ahead. As with any supply chain model, having too much of something early on in the process is much better than finding at the end you do not have enough. Study after study also shows that investment in internal talent creates higher brand loyalty and retention – in turn reducing cost and time.
3. Create a pipeline fit for tomorrow’s purpose
Even modern economic and technological systems will have changed radically by the end of this decade with leaders already seeing significant flux in the implementation of the digital agenda. While not new in itself, logistics leaders with a broad range of skills will be required to both deal with the global and local issues that have an increasingly external facing role. Reputation in a digitised society openly demanding more of C-Suite and shareholders to ensure businesses are delivering on their environmental and people promises will only increase.
Our experience across the core practice areas of Real Estate, Industrial Technology, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, means we have been at the front line of sourcing supply chain, procurement and operational changemakers for more than 15 years.
During this time, we have seen significant shifts in organisational transformation and how to find the right people for the big jobs.
Lessons can be learned from different industries and having experts across many sector fields mean that we can leverage this to build a robust strategy for success.
This results in a far higher influence around ensuring an organisation’s leadership teams are diverse and truly understand how the wider ESG agenda works in real-time and at board level.
In addition, these elements must coexist with both experiences for today but with an eye on future trends and world affairs.
Our ethos is that by removing the roadblocks to this macro-micro understanding we unlock leaders that deliver for today’s needs and the success of all our tomorrows.