Home » SCMAP Perspective » Classrooms for Supply Chain

Arguably, this new generation of supply chain managers have it a bit lucky. In a way, they are exposed to the horizontal nature of supply chain, of how it is not limited to one discipline, but rather emphasizes the relationship between multiple fields, initially seen as disparate, and how these fields must work together to provide value to customers and stakeholders alike.

 

Chances are, they have been exposed to basic supply chain concepts in their education. While degrees in supply chain are still a rare sight, some of these concepts are already taught in various business courses—the degree of emphasis and importance differs, sure, but exposure is still exposure. Chances are, the focus on entrepreneurship in some of these courses has also provided students with a first-hand view of the importance of ensuring a strong and adaptive supply chain to the survival of their business.

 

Once part of the labor force, their tendency to pursue career growth by working on different disciplines allows them to gain a better insight into the end-to-end role of supply chain. No longer is one expected to stay focused on, say, transportation or procurement. Whether it be because of the millennial’s supposed restlessness or a company’s thrust to rotate people around different teams, this new generation have more opportunities to better grasp the critical role supply chain plays in any business. At the very least, the few training programs available that tackle supply chain provides this holistic view, apart from specialized tracks.

 

Supply chain is still in a flux. Well, it is constantly evolving, so it will always be in a flux. That said, while more people recognize that it is not just one track but rather multiple tracks working together, in practice we’re still in silos. What we refer to as logistics is still often seen as just playing second fiddle to sales and marketing. In some cases there is still little collaboration between production and sales, leading to supply issues that could affect customer satisfaction. Is it a matter of old viewpoints stubbornly clinging on to dear life? Not exactly—again, the recognition of how supply chain brings different aspects of business together is slowly gaining ground. But it can be difficult to navigate just how this collaboration works in reality. I imagine many acknowledge the importance of working together, but there are many hurdles getting in the way.

 

Can strengthening supply chain education help foster collaboration? Clearly, the answer is yes. This doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom—we at SCMAP have designed our recent events and engagements with the view of illustrating the possibilities offered by the interaction between different, but no longer isolated, fields. But as employees of different generations pursue further education as a means to update their capabilities, the role of the classroom in illustrating the role supply chain plays in a business—global leaders and promising upstarts alike—remains indispensable.

 

In the Philippines, these options are limited. There are a few degree programs dedicated to supply chain, with other universities limiting them to one subject. These sit alongside training programs and events organized by professional supply chain institutions like SCMAP. If we are to fully realize our aspirations of having world class supply chain capabilities, we have to work together to further expand these educational options. These options should not just limit the student to one aspect of supply chain, but rather, help them appreciate the many interactions between different disciplines that power supply chain’s role in providing value to businesses and customers. More importantly, these should open their appreciation of supply chain opportunities and challenges not just in the Philippines but globally. Supply chain here is different from, say, China, or the United States, or Europe, with the different roles played by manufacturing and logistics in their economies. If our aspirations to further revive the manufacturing sector in the country is realized, our supply chain people have to be ready.

 

Ideally, as efforts to promote the supply chain sector intensifies, stakeholders also take a look at how we can promote and enhance offerings pertaining to supply chain education. The Commission of Higher Education can reassess current offerings, particularly business degrees, and elicit inputs from stakeholders in the public and private sector, as well as the academe. If more policymakers appreciate the value of supply chain not just to businesses, but to the economy and to our labor force, we can work together towards this common goal. This also assures that future business leaders are equipped with the holistic, collaborative view that an understanding of supply chain offers. It doesn’t have to be a separate degree offering, although more of those would be good; a reorientation of existing programs—tapping supply chain expertise from various industries —can also help foster this.

 

On our end, we continue our efforts to support and expand supply chain education through our work with TESDA, GoNegosyo and continued collaboration with academic institutions. We are not alone. We hope to see that, in our collective efforts to strengthen Philippine supply chain, we also look at the future by boosting education.

 

Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference: SCMAP is once again a supporting media partner of the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference, which will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on November 20-21. Organized by the Hong Kong SAR government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the event will tackle issues such as Asian connectivity and e-commerce. SCMAP members can avail of a discount if they register as a delegate. More information is available on scmap.org and almc.hk.

 

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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