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I was in Cebu over a week ago for the SCMAP Visayas chapter’s Sharpening the Supply Chain Practitioners event, a day-long seminar featuring some of the most respected supply chain professionals discussing skills that are critical to the trade.

 

If you went to the event looking for clarity on what skills those are exactly, you would have found out that there is no definitive answer. The event featured a spread of topics: former SCMAP president Ike Castillo talks about S&OP; Mondelēz Philippines’ Cris John Garcia discussed the impact of consolidation in the shipping industry on prices, among others; AGF Consulting’s Jong Fernandez looked at the impact of ISO certification on a supply chain operation; and we had two leadership talks from respected industry pioneers Ninoy Rollan and Santi Gutierrez.

 

But then, this is to be expected. Unlike most professions supply chain evolved from many disciplines. What we know now as supply chain was a result of several changes of mindset: it’s what brought together “traditional” logistics disciplines such as warehousing and transportation with aspects of operations such as demand planning and business planning, and even other aspects such as customer service.

 

At the moment there is no clear way to a supply chain career. We’ve all stumbled upon it in one way or another. Some come in from operations; others from logistics; even others from finance. I have even heard of this story of one supply chain professional coming from forestry! It shows just how wide supply chain’s scope is, and how it affects every aspect of not just a business, but our lives as well.

 

So just how do we sharpen the supply chain practitioner? A common theme that emerged during the day-long event is the need for communication. Ike’s talk was on how you can use S&OP to improve your supply chain operation – something he did while at the helm of Fast Logistics – and as he walked the delegates through the process, he mentioned the need for constant communication between different teams in the company, so objectives and goals are aligned.

 

Santi’s interesting talk on what he calls the “eight deadly sins of a supply chain career” also looked at the need for communication, not just in moving one up the ladder, but also in ensuring that one does his work effectively.

 

With the way supply chain as we define it came to be, there really is no one way (yet) to ensure that its practitioners are up for the task. Efforts are, of course, ongoing: many parties are in the midst of defining the essential skills anyone working in supply chain must have, from the managerial level to those working on the production floor. (And these are just “hard skills”.) But communication is a good place to start. For one, it really helps us align our objectives and goals. Also, no matter whether you’re in this industry for three years or thirty, we’re all still learning on the job. Supply chain is changing at such speed, but keeping up does not have to be a struggle.

 

With that, I would like to once again congratulate the team at SCMAP Visayas, led by their president Gilbert Cabataña, for a successful event.

 

Supply Chain Immersion: Our next event for 2017 is happening in two weeks’ time, and I am personally excited for it. This year’s Supply Chain Immersion features a mix of interactive workshops, site tours and talks that immerses the delegates in supply chain management – and, to borrow a term from SCMAP Visayas’ recent event, sharpens their skills.

 

On May 12 we board MV St. Michael the Archangel bound for Iloilo, and spend the day with interactive workshops giving a broad look at every end of the supply chain. Experts such as Unilab’s Nestor Felicio, XVC Logistics’ Cora Curay and Johnson & Johnson’s Clarisse Castillo will be in tow to facilitate these workshops that also allow delegates to take on leadership roles and work together towards understanding the vast scope of supply chain.

 

The next day, we arrive in Iloilo for a tour of the facilities and businesses that led to the city’s recent economic boom. In the afternoon, our new half-day event, Supply Chain Perspective, brings together supply chain experts and local leaders. Christine Pardiñas from Rustan Supercenters, Roni Balbieran from REID Foundation and Terence Uygongco from Philippine Foremost Milling Corporation are confirmed to take part.

 

The day after that, before we fly home to Manila, we take a tour of Iloilo’s tourist spots – and maybe get a chance to buy some goodies for the folks back home. And across the three days, there are many chances for networking and fellowship with your colleagues in the industry.

 

Registration is still ongoing, and sponsorship too, particularly for Supply Chain Perspective. All the information you need is on our website, scmap.org.

 

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.

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