Gregory Schlegel, founder of the Supply Chain Risk Management Consortium at Lehigh University, describes how supply-chain risk is occupying a central role in university and professional education, and why it's vital that executives embrace the discipline.
More than 100 universities across the U.S. offer a four-year degree in supply-chain management. Many of them are beginning to incorporate risk management into their coursework. A slew of books, lectures, articles and research is driving home the importance of designing supply chains that can either prevent severe disruptions or mitigate their impact.
Businesses have had plenty of warnings over the years about the need to consider supply-chain risk, including a series of severe weather events that shut down access to suppliers in entire regions. But it took the coronavirus pandemic to drive home the importance of preparing for a major disruption — possibly because this particular event has affected every country around the globe. “It’s a sad testimonial to those of us in risk management that a global pandemic has to occur with negative downside issues to bring the awareness to everyone,” says Schlegel.
Clearly, the next generation of supply-chain management professionals must be schooled in the complexities of risk management. Private businesses and academia alike are developing training programs and certifications to that end.
Still, integrating risk management into a supply chain is no easy task. It involves simultaneous consideration of two distinct approaches: building a network that can stand up to disruptions (proactive) and one that can lessen the impact of such events (reactive). “To be an exemplar in supply-chain risk management, you need to do both, and do them well,” says Schlegel.
Responsibility for overseeing risk management tends to falls to two disciplines within many companies, Schlegel says: finance and procurement. Both need to implement effective programs in that area.
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