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Baby's Got a Whole New Look: Supply Chain Professional

ISM's 93rd Annual International Supply Management Conference

St. Louis, MO
May 2008


Marilyn Gettinger, C.P.M., Owner/President, New Directions Consulting Group

The final day of the Conference wrapped up with a workshop discussing the skills, knowledge and personal attributes that workshop leader Marilyn Gettinger, C.P.M., owner and president of New Directions Consulting Group, will prove essential for supply management professionals in coming years.

"As a supply chain executive, you need to understand the changes in your industry, your profession, your organization and your world," Gettinger said. "And here's the thing: Those are all opportunities for us to take on a leadership role."

Gettinger covered a multitude of changes affecting the world — and, in turn, the supply management function — including sustainability, regulatory demands and outsourcing.

She painted a picture of life before materials management characterized by excess inventory, conflicting goals and duplication and redundancy, to name a few. Once materials management was introduced, inventory was reduced, communication improved, and there was a focus shift to reducing the cost of production, all of which had a positive bottom-line impact. This was followed by the advent of P-cards, e-commerce, strategic sourcing, tactical-to-strategic thinking, and an emphasis on quality.

While there are a handful of new definitions for supply management, Gettinger pointed out a few objectives that are common to all: reducing/sharing risks, improving performance, reducing cycle time, reducing costs and improving customer service and satisfaction.

In coming years, Gettinger predicted, organizations will increasingly base their business on the supply management function. "You won't go to work for a purchasing department soon — you'll work on a supply chain process team," she explained. To be successful when you do will require skills in communication, relationship management, human relations, facilitation of teams and risk management, among others, she added.

She likened this to an emerging need for supply chain management professionals to "walk up and down the supply chain," which requires an understanding of how it all works and the value of all the relationships involved.

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