Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Investing in the future

The night before the first day of our flagship event, the 2016 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference, I was watching the news. The most striking bit was how the main stories of that particular newscast involved stories affecting supply chain: heavy traffic in Manila, upcoming infrastructure projects, even the long waiting time for getting or renewing your passport. (It does involve movement of people, after all.)

 

Granted, the next day the main stories were of some Senate investigation, but having supply chain stories on the main news is no weird thing anymore. As we’ve seen back in 2014, when Manila mayor Joseph Estrada’s daytime truck ban led to disastrous consequences for our businesses, supply chain stories – heavy traffic, prices of goods, long waits at airports – impact Filipinos where it matters the most: the way they live.

 

Our two keynote addresses in this year’s conference inevitably tackled these themes. Doris Magsaysay-Ho, the “commander” of A. Magsaysay Inc., compared the Philippines with our neighbors in Southeast Asia and illustrated that there is much to be done. She encouraged the delegates to think big so we can make the leap forward.

 

For his part, DOTr undersecretary Rommel Gavieta showed that the government is busy working and rolling out plans to improve and enhance our transport networks, not just through infrastructure, but through policies and regulations. The hallmark, of course, is the National Logistics Master Plan, which we expect to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

 

We at supply chain are obsessed with improving our processes. With the evolving demands of our customers – not just our principals, especially for service providers, but our end customers – we have to go above and beyond to deliver fast, and deliver better. So, here we are, attending (and organizing) these conferences, hearing and learning about why and how we have to improve and innovate – automation, process improvements, personal improvements. Every year the themes remain the same, and yet every year there’s something new to learn, something new to think about.

 

We have been investing in the future for as long as we began working in this profession. Somewhat frustratingly, however, sometimes it feels we’re hitting a wall. We can only do so much, but there are so many things outside our control. It feels like we’re the only ones moving, while other stakeholders are dragging their feet. The past few years have been encouraging, though: the government, for one, has gotten its act together and is now looking to invest in meaningful infrastructure projects. Sure, we’re playing catch up, but better than staying still.

 

The new government, in particular, seems keen on building on the progress made by its predecessor when it comes to improving transportation and logistics in the country. We can only hope it translates into something more concrete – and more lasting.

 

SCMAP’s president, Cora Curay, stressed this point during her opening remarks to last week’s conference. Going world class, she said, means investing in the future – arming yourself with the skills, knowledge and fortitude to look ahead to the future, determine what is the best thing to be done, and working hard to ensure that you are ready to face that future – making the right decisions at the right time, knowing that those decisions will not just affect you, but the people around you.

 

We have to invest in the future, because in these times, we cannot risk being left behind. It’s not a simple case of catching up with what our neighbors have – “Wow, Singapore has a shiny train system; I wish we had that, too!” – because just chasing trends means we risk being left behind anyway. We have to truly understand what our challenges are, and craft solutions that truly fit our needs.

 

Perhaps, once we get our heads together and collaborate on a common cause, we can truly become world class – and the supply chain-related news items on the television won’t have shades of dread and doom.

 

On behalf of SCMAP, I would like to thank everyone who took part in the 2016 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference: our speakers, our delegates, our sponsors and our friends in the industry who helped make this event possible. We’ll see you in 2017 – and tomorrow, too; our work never ends, after all.

 

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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