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ASCM Insights

ASCM CONNECT Delivers Need-to-Know Insights


“Supply chain leaders have an opportunity to collaborate, to make a difference and to ensure that supply chains lead us out of this pandemic,” ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE, told today’s virtual ASCM CONNECT audience. Joined by Board Chair Antonio Galvao Costa, CSCP, CLTD, CTL, the two encouraged attendees to work collaboratively across cultures and time zones to ensure a sustainable recovery.

Galvao described ASCM CONNECT educational sessions as “the topics that matter” — such as digital transformation, resilience, the circular economy and many more offerings specifically designed to help attendees optimize performance across the extended supply chain.

Read on for some of the highlights from Day 1’s best-in-class supply chain education.

Katty Kay Urges Women to ‘Act More, Think Less’

When it comes to success, BBC World News America Lead Anchor Katty Kay says confidence matters as much, if not more, than competence. Unfortunately, research shows that women are much more likely to lack that critical self-assurance in their powers and abilities.

“So many women [are] holding themselves back,” the bestselling author said. “It’s not because of lack of qualifications or competence; it’s because they lack confidence.” She explained to ASCM CONNECT attendees that her team has asked countless senior women how they rose to the top. Time and again, the answers involved being lucky or in the right place at the right time — rather than simply having earned it by being great at what they do.

“When you start digging into the social science data behind this issue of confidence, there is a ton of evidence that this isn’t a confidence gap, but instead a confidence chasm, between men and women,” she said. “In the professional sphere, our confidence seems to erode.”

Kay encouraged women to act more, stop worrying about being perfect, and get outside their comfort zones. Then, she made the point that businesses also have a role to play by championing risk-taking and reassuring employees that there is a safety net: “Be transparent about risk. Be transparent about the potential for failure or messing up and what happens around that. And then keep encouraging them to get back in the saddle.”

Johnson & Johnson’s Digital Transformation

Johnson & Johnson’s supply chain team is composed of 60,000 people — which equals about half of the corporation’s global workforce. They operate in six continents; manage 100,000 orders each day; and have about 300,000 commercial customers, including retail giants and vast hospital systems. Now, the company is reimagining its supply chain operations through a lens of innovation. Donika Kirk, vice president of global delivery excellence, shared some of the key strategies with ASCM CONNECT attendees.

“We are seeing on-demand personalization, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing coming to the forefront,” she said. “Digital transformation is here, and our ability to learn and translate those learnings into action with speed is absolutely a competitive advantage.”

Kirk added that having everything and everyone connected enables the organization to streamline processes and give customers exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it in a simple, efficient and profitable way.

The digital innovations Johnson & Johnson is leveraging across its value chain are also providing enhanced agility, visibility and essential data insights. They are helping the organization prioritize what matters most to customers. “Digital really underpins and accelerates everything we do,” Kirk said. “Digital capabilities are opening up the way we’re working, and they’re changing how we connect.”

4 Steps to Superior Supplier Relationship Management

Michelle Lombard, CPIM, director of supply chain and production planning at SeaSpine, believes supplier relationship management works best when it’s an inclusive activity. In her educational session, she offered clear strategies for involving others in the process, noting, “You can’t do it by yourself and you shouldn’t do it by yourself — or you will fail.” 

She shared the following strategies to help create a competitive advantage:

  1. Segmentation. Begin by reviewing your current program. All the stakeholders need to be in the room, deciding together on the criteria that makes a tier one supplier.
  2. Governance. Lombard suggested using a simple RACI diagram to categorize people’s roles. She described this as a way to “non-emotionally” break down the tasks of everyone involved in supplier relationships.
  3. Performance management. “Notice I did not say ‘scorecard,’” she stressed. “Performance management is much broader. … You’re setting the tone for your suppliers.” She added that this requires two-way communication and collaboratively creating roadmaps to future plans.
  4. Supplier development. Lombard said this final step will come naturally once the first three are in place because you have cleared the channels of communication, built trust, are measuring what’s important and have common goals. It’s here that the supplier becomes a strategic partner. “Celebrate this victory together,” she urged, “that’s the icing on the cake.”

The Circular Supply Chain Movement

Day 1 of ASCM CONNECT was rounded off with a discussion on the intersection of sustainability and supply chain. John Davies, vice president and senior analyst at GreenBiz Group interviewed Lisa Brady, director of supply chain sustainability, risk and circular economy at Cisco, and Dave Stangis, founder and CEO of 21C IMPACT. They considered what it means to embed sustainability into the supply chain function.

A key element of this is, of course, the circular economy, which Brady called “a growing buzzword” that nevertheless represents something very significant. “It's really about thinking about how we use our natural resources,” she explained. “It’s about how you grow your businesses and grow your products with the fundamentals of keeping them in use longer and using materials longer, designing out waste and pollution from the very beginning, using fewer natural resources, and regenerating whatever resources you do extract from the earth.”

She stressed that, as we continue to run out of natural resources, supply chain organizations must think about their products and the materials used to make them as valuable goods, not something to be discarded. Then, the next vital step is solving these problems together in the context of a much larger ecosystem. “These are not problems that a single company can solve on their own,” Brady said.

Stangis noted that he’s had success using stories to increase understanding and change minds in myriad situations. He said finding interesting narratives — connected from an ingredient source all the way to the product endpoint — helps people appreciate what’s at stake while building trust and transparency. As he put it, “Talk about them as mapping real issues that are affecting everything.”

About the Author

Elizabeth Rennie Editor-in-Chief, SCM Now magazine, ASCM

Elizabeth Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of SCM Now. She may be contacted at

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