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ASCM Insights

Amazon Invests in Potential


There is a long tradition of businesses inventing holidays. While Black Friday arose more-or-less organically, Cyber Monday was the brainchild of the National Retail Federation, according to The New York Times. Small Business Saturday was conceived by American Express to be Black Friday’s locally focused counterpart. And now we have Prime Day — Amazon’s annual global shopping extravaganza. Exclusive to Prime members, the sales event features lightning deals that last only until items sell out.

Prime Day this past week actually lasted 48 hours, July 15 and 16, and was the biggest in Amazon’s history. There is little doubt that the online shopping trend will continue to escalate. As it does, the technology behind it is reshaping roles and leaving companies without enough skilled personnel. To address this challenge, Amazon has announced a plan to retrain 100,000 employees — one-third of its U.S. workforce.

Chip Cutter writes for The Wall Street Journal: “Companies are increasingly paying up to retrain workers as new technologies transform the workplace and companies struggle to recruit talent in one of the hottest job markets in decades. Inc. is the latest example of a large employer committing to help its workers gain new skills.”

The initiative will cost Amazon $700 million over a six-year period. It involves everything from a Machine Learning University to aircraft mechanics courses and even nursing programs. Employees who volunteer to participate could either move into more-advanced jobs inside Amazon or find new careers elsewhere.

“Though Amazon’s training won’t carry a stipulation that employees remain with the company, experts say the program is likely to help retain staff,” Cutter writes. “The ability to hold on to talent is important because recruiting new workers and training them is expensive and time-consuming.”

Never stop learning

The latest issue of SCM Now magazine highlights the value and importance of investing in employees. For the cover story, Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie interviewed eight outstanding female chief supply chain officer (CSCOs). Each of them shares key insights into how to inspire and engage employees.

Kathy Wengel, chief global supply chain officer at Johnson & Johnson, told Rennie: “Technology is quickly evolving and changing the way we do business. As leaders, we must continue to upskill and transform our ways of working, so people can grow in their careers as technology evolves.”

Sandra MacQuillan, CSCO at Kimberly-Clark, noted, “None of us can move forward alone — it requires tapping into the skills and capabilities of many people along the way and rallying them behind a shared vision.”

And Susanna Zhu, CSCO at The Hershey Company, offers the following advice: “Great leaders are passionate about people, genuinely care for the team and can energize the organization to deliver the vision. They care about team success while caring for people. Lastly, great leaders are curious and are students for life.”

Quell your own curiosity and see what you can learn inside the brand-new issue of SCM Now.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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