Ben Shrewsbury, leader of the Global Operations and Supply Chain Officers Practice of Russell Reynolds Associates, reveals what’s on the minds of supply chain leaders today, as they confront the issue of managing human capital.
“Supply chain is absolutely in the zeitgeist today,” says Shrewsbury, and that’s shining a spotlight on the role and responsibility of supply chain executives. They’re facing multiple challenges, as they strive to juggle concerns of speed, cost to serve, flexibility and resilience — all “critical differentiators” in global businesses.
“Meeting unique and evolving consumer demand has made it a very exciting time to be a leader,” adds Shrewsbury. To achieve that objective, it’s vital that executives acquire complete visibility of the global workforce. Consumers, directors and investors are all becoming more aware of the need to enforce practices that promote sustainability and resilience, while respecting the rights of workers around the world.
When it comes to assessing the nature of work today, there’s “pre-pandemic and post-pandemic, and never the twain shall meet,” says Shrewsbury. As societies and workplaces begin to open up, companies are struggling to understand which tasks can continue to be performed remotely, and which ones require workers to be on site. The latter is certainly the case with factory and warehouse work, but it’s also a requirement for executive roles such as procurement. “In C-suite and senior roles, they remain road warriors, to the extent they’re able to travel,” he says. That’s not going to change fundamentally, but companies will have to remain flexible about where certain jobs can be carried out.
What’s undeniable is that in the months and years ahead, businesses must acquire control and visibility over the human capital throughout their supply chains to ensure long-term success in changing markets, Shrewsbury says.
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