The real-life super-heroes of South African business are to be found in supply chain functions, according to Olakira founder and former Shell South Africa managing director Tanya Kabalin.
As one of the speakers at the SAPICS regional conferences, Kabalin told supply chain professionals that they were the backbone of most organisations – and needed to play a more integral leadership role in modern business.
She urged delegates to help improve not just their systems, processes and technology – the ‘smart’ side of business, but also their organisational health.
“A healthy organisation is able to multiply the value of its smart systems, whereas silos, confusion and company politics may undermine them,” she said.
Addressing recruitment trends in supply chain, Tech-Pro lead executive consultant Zach Mogotsi told delegates in attendance that employment opportunities in the field were likely to remain strong despite the difficult economic times, as companies realise that they can improve their bottom lines through more efficient supply chain management.
Mogotsi presented the results of a recent survey of salaries in supply chain, and stated that the best payers were probably mining and heavy engineering, followed by fast moving consumer goods and manufacturing.
“As a placement company, the demographics for which Tech-Pro recently found jobs for were 58% black, 26% white, 13% Indian and 2% coloured – with the 30-39 year age group making up 45% of placements, against 40% for 20-29 year olds and just 14% for 40 years and over,” said Mogotsi.
Keith Launchbury, a US supply chain expert, in his address emphasised that many classical supply chain techniques were simply no longer effective in today’s economy – especially given that markets have evolved in favour of buyers, and supply chains have lengthened as a result of global trade.
This was leading many demand planners to make extensive use of data that was not accurate; so the results of their work, he said, were often ‘precisely wrong’ – and should rather be ‘roughly right’.
According to Launchbury said the industry needed to move from a cost-driven model to a product flow-driven model for planning purposes, emphasising the need to put SMART (strategic, managed, adaptable, robust and tolerate) buffers in place that would absorb the variability of supply and demand.
His colleague, US-based master practitioner, Claire Bloom added to the discussion by giving delegates a practical lesson – putting them to the task of tackling challenges in a fictional company through assuming the various management roles.
Bloom stressed the importance of integrating resources so that quality and processes could be improved, silos could be brought down, and flow could be maximised.
SAPICS took advantage of the Gauteng regional event to announce the winners of the SAPICS Supply Chain Management Education Excellence Awards for 2017, sponsored by TETA. These annual awards, now in the 10th year, recognise excellence in South Africa by organisations and individuals in supply chain education.