October 12, 2011

"Talent crisis" panel addresses employee development

Executive recruiters, supply chain executives, and an academic researcher offered practical advice for finding, developing, and retaining supply chain talent.

By Toby Gooley

When it comes to finding, developing, and retaining supply chain talent, managers have plenty to worry about, as attendees at the "Talent Crisis in Supply Chain Management" session at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference in Philadelphia made clear.

But moderator and executive search consultant Timothy Stratman and panelists Ty Gent of Pepsico, Rebecca Lyons of Johnson & Johnson, Jarrod Goentzel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stewart Lumsden of the search firm Spencer Stuart were able to offer a host of suggestions and helpful ideas to the standing-room-only crowd.

Just a few of their recommendations:

  • Companies should look for the following characteristics in their supply chain managers: the ability to drive change and build an effective organization, a global perspective, "commercial sense," problem-solving skills, and the ability to innovate.
  • Today's young, entry-level employees tend to feel entitled when it comes to salary and perks. Telling them they have to "pay their dues" will not get you far. Give them challenges and opportunities to make concrete contributions that make a difference to the company, its customers, and society at large, and both employer and employee will benefit.
  • A supply chain or logistics degree is helpful, but you can also hire bright people who have a broad business understanding and leadership skills, and then teach them about warehousing, transportation, inventory, and so on. "We can teach you about supply chain. We want to know what you're going to do with it," said Gent.
  • Rotate trainees and rising stars through different functional areas. That way they'll find out what interests them most, and you'll learn where their talents lie. Help them understand that lateral moves through various supply chain functions rather than constant promotions will pay off later when they oversee a wider range of functional areas.