Covid-19 brings Supply Chain Function in the Spotlight

Interview with Marina Shlyaptseva

Marina is a Supply Chain Professional with more than 15 years of experience in various functional areas of business: manufacturing, procurement, planning, project management. In her most recent role as Global Head of Contract Manufacturing at Beiersdorf AG, she designed and implemented a new strategy for managing contract manufacturers. The key elements of the strategy were creating dedicated steering teams and building sustainable and long-term supplier collaboration models.

We asked Marina about the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain function.

As a supply chain professional, what do you see as the knock-on effects of the current economic crisis?

All businesses are facing unprecedented disruption and the recovery will take time. Increased demand coupled with depleted buffer stocks and unstable transport chains will keep driving limited supply. In the manufacturing area, capacity will be put under extreme pressure and we will witness capacity constraints starting from the production of raw and packaging materials to the manufacturing of finished goods. All functions in supply chain will need to go the extra mile in the months ahead in order to stabilize the supply.

How do you see the changing role of supply chain managers post-pandemic?

Supply chain is the bloodstream of the organization. The current crisis has pushed supply chain teams to their limit and, at the same time, brought them into the spotlight. Supply chain should no longer be perceived as the function delivering KPI’s like service level and savings. Supply chain leaders must become an equal player in designing the company strategy and be an integral part in defining the roadmap for product portfolio and technology.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, global supply chains were being impacted by technologies such as AI, advanced data analytics, cloud-based supplier management and automation.  How do you see these technologies mitigating in this crisis and beyond?

From one day to the next, the world was forced to move online, and this is where access to data and end-to-end traceability in purchasing, planning, order management, production, logistics and other vital processes were of crucial importance. Those companies that had already invested in advanced IT solutions and highly automated processes benefited from the fast adaptation to the challenges caused by the COVID crisis. In the post-pandemic phase many companies will accelerate their plans to invest in connecting their internal processes and creating seamless links, not only within the organization but also beyond. I believe in the importance of digitally connecting all partners of the supply chain: material suppliers, service providers, manufacturers, customers and even consumers. Such connectivity allows all participants to leverage the quick and transparent exchange of data and transactions, and therefore have better control over the entire supply chain process.

Outstanding supply chain professionals are going to be in demand regardless of whether in crisis or normal trading. If you could name three core competencies in a SC professional, what would they be?

A supply chain professional of the future must excel in strategic thinking, possess a very high learning capability, adapt quickly to rapidly developing technologies, understand and efficiently use such technologies for decision making and leading the teams and businesses forward. The future holds more ambiguity for economies and businesses, hence supply chain teams at all levels of the organization will need to constantly anticipate, assess and manage risks, as well as have the courage to take decisions and act in times of uncertainty.

2020 Procurement &
Supply Chain Innovation Report

Read this special report, published in The Times, that explores the upheaval of global supply chains, how procurement tech can help sourcing professionals, and the cyber vulnerabilities for hackers
during the crisis.

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supply chain covid-19