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When you’re playing host to an event, no matter how big or small your audience is, you have to stay on your toes. You don’t want awkward pauses, long gaps—you have to keep moving.

 

I did not have a plan in mind when I kicked off the first day of Supply Chain Immersion, on board MV St. Michael the Archangel bound for Iloilo.

 

“Tell me your name, your company,” I said, kicking off the getting-to-know segment, “and your deepest, darkest secret.”

 

Well, that was the first thing that came to my head. Besides, it’s not like they’ll tell us their deepest, darkest secrets, right? It’s just not how things work.

 

The answers from our delegates fell mostly down two categories. There are those who admit to not having travelled by sea before, and feel nervous about being on a boat. When you travel by sea for the first time, you can’t help but feel the vessel tilt even just a little bit, whether you’re in the middle of the water or still docked in the pier. A handful expressed initial apprehensions, which meant a quick joke (not from me) about swimming lessons just before lunch break.

 

Then there are those whose “secret” involves not being from Manila. Most of the delegates on the first day may come from Manila-based companies, but they come all over.

 

What struck me was how many of our delegates came from outside Luzon. Some came from all over the Visayas; from Cebu, from Bacolod, from Tacloban. I counted at least two who came from Iloilo; I made a mental note to stick with them throughout the weekend, first timer that I am to the city. Others more came from Mindanao—Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos. All of us coming from different hometowns, all working in supply chain, all gathered in this event to learn more about the industry we work in, the profession we work for.

 

Our diverse backgrounds is perhaps a testament to the nature of the supply chain industry in general. We are a country of over 7,000 islands, after all; no matter where you come from, you have to learn how to build connections, whether over land, or sea, or air.

 

Working on supply chain, whether it’s for a major 3PL in Manila or a small distributor in Siquijor, means having to deal with the same challenges. The terrain may be different, but the challenges fundamentally remain the same. So do the solutions: analyzing your options, looking for the optimal solution, keeping track of your performance. It’s no surprise that, in supply chain, you get talent from all over the country. Ours is an industry where no one solution fits all. Everyone working in it comes with different approaches and perspectives, and this diversity helps in ensuring we serve our principals—and, ultimately, end consumers—best.

 

We have to take advantage of these qualities if we are to remain competitive. One way is by further developing supply chain education. For the most part current programs are limited to academic institutions here in Manila. It’s not to say that these principles aren’t tackled across the country, though. (Also, as we mentioned a few columns back, many learn supply chain on the job.) But how about we continue developing supply chain capabilities across the country? Expand training at every level; raise awareness; establish and increase standards. There are many efforts— our collaboration with GoNegosyo, teaching supply chain fundamentals to MSMEs across the country, is one – but we must build on these blocks. We are a country of over 7,000 islands. It’s a no-brainer.

 

2017 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference: We have announced three more speakers to our flagship event, happening on September 21-22. Joining us are renowned architect and urban planner Jun Palafox Jr., Royal Cargo group chief executive officer Michael Kurt Raeuber, and Manila North Harbour Port Inc. chair Richard Barclay. Be part of Philippine supply chain’s most prestigious event as a delegate or sponsor: check out scmap.org for details.

 

Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.

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