Executive Briefings

Talent Development Is Crucial to the Supply Chain

The accent may be on lean workforces, especially during hard economic times, but to fail to nurture the next generation of supply chain managers is foolhardy, says Dave Malenfant, vice president, global supply chain, at Alcon Labs.

It's ironic that conferences are devoted to supply chain efficiency, yet when times get tough one of the first things companies do is to undermine their supply chain performance by firing people.

This is particularly counterproductive, he says, when so many companies are run by people who could retire at any moment. In fact, during the worst of the economic downturn, many experienced heads were forced to retire.

Who's gonna run the shop?

"We have to treat human capital as a strategic part of the business," Malenfant says. "If we don't start looking at it that way, if we don't start bringing young people in for comprehensive talent development, we're going to have a vacuum in another five or six years."

Grooming the next generation of supply chain leaders-right now-is imperative. "Who's going to be my successor? Who's going to take over the industry in the future?"

He suggests a program of six to eight years in which candidates are developed in "every vertical" in the company's supply chain. In the end, they emerge as senior leaders.

In the past, he says, he placed a "procurement person" in charge of company logistics and had great success. "You identify those people with soft skills and give them the training."

Lean is the mantra virtually everywhere. "When the downturn came in my organization, all the money for training was cut. But you can still move people around. You can still identify those with potential, take them out of their comfort zone and test them. I've got 15 people in my development program, and it hasn't cost a dime."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.

It's ironic that conferences are devoted to supply chain efficiency, yet when times get tough one of the first things companies do is to undermine their supply chain performance by firing people.

This is particularly counterproductive, he says, when so many companies are run by people who could retire at any moment. In fact, during the worst of the economic downturn, many experienced heads were forced to retire.

Who's gonna run the shop?

"We have to treat human capital as a strategic part of the business," Malenfant says. "If we don't start looking at it that way, if we don't start bringing young people in for comprehensive talent development, we're going to have a vacuum in another five or six years."

Grooming the next generation of supply chain leaders-right now-is imperative. "Who's going to be my successor? Who's going to take over the industry in the future?"

He suggests a program of six to eight years in which candidates are developed in "every vertical" in the company's supply chain. In the end, they emerge as senior leaders.

In the past, he says, he placed a "procurement person" in charge of company logistics and had great success. "You identify those people with soft skills and give them the training."

Lean is the mantra virtually everywhere. "When the downturn came in my organization, all the money for training was cut. But you can still move people around. You can still identify those with potential, take them out of their comfort zone and test them. I've got 15 people in my development program, and it hasn't cost a dime."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.