In June, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) named Mark Baxa its full-time president and CEO, a role he had filled on an interim basis for the previous 16 months. Baxa has extensive experience as a supply chain executive, working for much of his career at Monsanto in procurement strategy and international trade roles and, most recently, as the president and CEO of FerniaCreek, a supply chain consulting company he founded in 2018. He is also a longtime member of the supply chain organization he now leads, having previously served on CSCMP’s board of directors and as its chairman in 2019. He recently spoke with David Maloney, DC Velocity’s group editorial director.
Q: Congratulations on being named the full-time president and CEO of CSCMP. What are your hopes for the organization?
A: I am honored and humbled at the call to fill the role as CSCMP’s next president and CEO. During my tenure as interim, I had the distinct pleasure of working alongside the CSCMP staff and our strategic business partners to expand the benefits this great organization offers to the supply chain profession … practitioners, academics, collaborators, events and sponsorship teams, and many more. We have a well-placed and large mission as an organization. I intend to continue leading in that direction to not only fulfill that mission but also to create greater meaning and value within for all that are a part of CSCMP.
Now, more than ever, our CSCMP team is needed to support supply chain capability and competency building across the member lifecycle, and create powerful and relevant learning and networking opportunities so that the supply chain of today and tomorrow serves society well. We will advance many new initiatives that accelerate supply chain sustainability learning, talent development, creating functional centers of excellence, new content curation models, and enhancing the executive development experience, to name a few.
Q: We have seen a lot of supply chain disruptions this year. How is CSCMP helping its members navigate the current environment?
A: By staying true to our mission: educating the broader membership and guests of CSCMP. Supply chain leadership begins and ends with the competency of our people; that in turn will result in a more capable supply chain that delivers shared value for both customers and the business itself. We’ve invested in connecting the solutions found within the provider community with the practitioners who need those solutions by way of unbiased, credible research and content curation … presented live and in person, virtually, and through digital content.
Additionally, the critical-to-success live events at the roundtables and Edge Conference, supply chain courses, and certificate and certification programs are building up talent to solve for the challenges supply chains face as 2022 and 2023 unfold. We have, of course, always remained steadfast in providing those solutions, but equally important, making the connections within our global network of members, both practitioners and academics, that are vital.
Q: How will inflation and predicted slowdowns in transportation markets affect the industry for the remainder of 2022?
A: We heard about this very topic during the recent unveiling of CSCMP’s 33rd State of Logistics Report, held in Washington, D.C., on June 21. Slowdowns in the transportation sector typically result in a lowering of rates. The rate spot market will be a direct indicator of supply vs. demand and pricing, as an outcome will always be the “tell.” Inflation will impact the speed of any potential lowering of rates as the transportation sector assesses the demand curve. The degree of transportation demand softening will play a significant role in any downward rate pressure that may outweigh the rising cost of transportation operations.
Additionally, cost of fuel comes into play here and will remain in the picture for the foreseeable future given the impacts of both political pressure on fossil fuel consumption vs. alternative energy sources and that of the ongoing war in Ukraine and its lasting impacts.
Q: Retailers are now stocking up for the holiday peak. Do you have any advice for how they should prepare their supply chains for the season?
A: Yes. Believe in your digital investments to improve the predictability and reliability of your supply chain, but trust in your people even more! Our studies have shown that companies have continued to invest in planning software that improves the visibility of their supply chain events in order to achieve better business results. But it takes competent, knowledgeable, and prepared teams to execute. Invest in your people!
Second, keep in mind that nothing will stay the same from day to day. Attempting to predict what will occur in this environment—or making statements of the absolute such as guaranteed delivery dates—requires caution. Naturally, we want competitive advantage in the marketplace. That advantage is more likely than not to come from overcommunicating across your supply chain and the customer. Why? Think about it. How else shall we deal with the uncertain but to connect everyone to the events as they happen. To deliver on a promise now means “I am your trusted partner who knows what can happen, and when it does, I will be there to solve it—all the while, letting you know [what’s happening] before you read it in the news!”
And finally, if you haven’t already done so, it may be too late, but building trusted, strategic partnerships that afford a level of resiliency in your supply chain will be a big win when it comes to meeting demand. To trust your suppliers is one thing. But to have suppliers who show you why they can be trusted is something completely different.
Q: CSCMP’s Edge conference returns to Nashville next month. What can attendees expect to experience there?
A: Intelligence delivered. Pure and simple. This is the supply chain learning, development, and industry networking conference that touches all direct and supporting functions within supply chain, and it does so across practitioners, academics, and service providers. There is no better option than Edge. No one in supply chain today can meet the challenges of the road ahead without gathering as much intelligence as they can.I know that some will take this statement as controversial, but if you are in supply chain, you must invest in external learning and intelligence gathering like you never have before. The solutions in this fast-paced, highly dynamic, and out-of-sync supply chain environment we’re in are NOT inside the four walls of your immediate business … the 70 (on-the-job learning)/20 (coaching & mentoring)/10 (external) model of learning and development for the supply chain leader and staff does not work now. You cannot compete in that environment. Be smart and take advantage of this learning and development event. We are looking forward to delivering tremendous value through the Edge experience.