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Episode 56: The reBound Podcast Live at ASCM Connect 2023: The Sustainable Supply Chain


Announcer: Welcome to The Rebound, where we'll explore the issues facing supply chain managers, as our industry gets back up and running in a post-COVID world. This podcast is hosted by Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain Management, and Bob Trebilcock, Editorial Director of Supply Chain Management Review. Remember that Abe and Bob welcome your comments. Now to today's episode.

Abe Eshkenazi: Welcome, everyone. This is a special session of The Rebound that we have for you. It's The Rebound Live. Bob and I have had the opportunity to do this now I think three years, Bob, and I think this has been one of the more engaging events that we have to get into some topics a little bit more freeform, as opposed to a lot of the scripted presentations. Give us a sense of what we're doing here, Bob.

Bob Trebilcock: I was thinking when I came in here, this is the third one we've done from ASCM CONNECT. It's the second one they've allowed us to do live, and this year, we got the big room, so it's quite a thing. This is going to be a special podcast. I just want to warn you ahead of time, we did a rehearsal. These two had no opinions, very little to say. They were shy, so we're hoping we can get them talking a little bit about this topic, but we're going to talk about sustainability today. Abe, this is your event, why don't you take it from here?

Abe: I appreciate this, Bob. Over the next 30 minutes, we're going to dive into some topics, specifically on sustainability. We've got an exciting panel here that's joining us. First, Nico De Golia. Nico is the Global Lead of Cloud Logistics and Sustainability at Microsoft. In that role, he oversees transportation services that support Microsoft's cloud businesses. Joining Nico is Deborah Dull. Deborah is Vice President and Global Supply Chain Sustainability Leader at Genpact. She's also the founder of Circular Supply Chain Network, a nonprofit whose members educate, connect, innovate for circular supply chains that are good, not only for the environment but society businesses as well. Nico, Deborah, welcome.

Deborah Dull: Thank you very much.

Nico De Golia: Thanks for having us.

Abe: This has been a topic, obviously, on everybody's agenda. This is not something that just popped up the past couple of years, particularly in terms of the impact that the pandemic has had and the exposure of supply chain to consumers and businesses alike, and the impact that supply chains have on their lives. I don't think it's an overstatement that sustainability has risen to the top of the agenda of almost every organization in terms of priorities.

When we take a look at the investment, it may not match the rhetoric, it may not match the desire to make an impact, so we're seeing that this is on the to-do list for every supply chain professional today. This is now part and parcel of their role and responsibility. Climate change is on the top of almost every media news cycle that we see right now. Let's get started here. First, tell us a little bit about yourselves. Let's start with Deborah.

Deborah: Fantastic. Thanks, Abe, for having me on, and for those live, thank you for joining us. My name is Deborah Dull, I am starting the practice around sustainability at a company called Genpact. We started as a spin-off from General Electric as a center of excellence, and now I have about 115,000 employees around the world, advisory services, technology, strategy and implementation, and professional services.

I was asked to come and join this team because our customers continue to ask for help. There is a pressure, and we'll talk about it a little during this podcast, on some supply chains are doing quite well and some supply chains aren't sure where to start at all. We talk a lot about the digital divide, but it really feels like there's a sustainability divide. It's not a bell curve, it's the opposite. That's the upside-down bell curve.

I get to take the goals and the commitments and the concepts around sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions, social equity, water use, and translate that into the day-to-day operations for the decisions that we make every day. I find that our community, the supply chain community hasn't been engaged on this topic. You're right, Abe, it's not a new topic ESG, sustainability, how we treat the planet and each other, but somehow we've been left out of that discussion. We have a lot of catching up and learning to do and so the conversations we've been having in the hallways and on stages here at ASCM this year are around this gap that we need to go and fill in and educate ourselves. I'm really happy to be sharing this podcast slot with Nico because he's in a team who does get it and they're a real leader so I'm really excited to hear a lot from you today.

Nico: Thanks. Appreciate that. Should I go ahead?

Abe: Please, Nico.

Nico: Hey, everyone. Thank you for joining us live. For those who are in the audience. My name is Nico De Golia. I work in Microsoft's cloud supply chain that supports the growth of our AI and cloud compute services around the world. We're one of the fastest-growing parts of Microsoft as an organization. My team is responsible for figuring out how do we align our logistics operations with Microsoft's globally leading sustainability commitments of wanting to be net negative carbon emissions, zero waste, water positive, and to protect more land than we use in our operations all by the end of this decade, which is just seven years away, or six and a half.

Figuring out how we effectively cascade those top-line enterprise goals down into the actual operations of moving cargo around the world on trucks, ships, planes, and trains, storing that cargo in warehouses, and of course, addressing the packaging challenges that we have as a high tech compute organization, to protect cargo and transit but not contribute to the waste streams around the world, is what my team wakes up to do every day. Really excited to be able to be here, share some of the learnings that we've had along the journey, and also, of course, talk about what we can do as a supply chain community to help us achieve our global sustainability goals to ensure that we have a planet to continue to operate, function, and sell to customers on by the end of the decade.

Abe: Very cool. Why don't you get us started?

Bob: Nico, I wanted to put a question to you first, and then we'll come to Deborah, if you looked at ASCM's top 10 trends, that we've seen at a lot of these sessions, I think it's six, seven and eight or seven, eight, nine, were risk management, resilience, agility, and sustainability. When we were doing the rehearsal, you made an interesting comment, which was sustainability is risk management, so combining two of those into the one. Can you expand on that? To you, why is sustainability synonymous with risk management?

Nico: Thanks for that question. I think it's actually synonymous with three of those, so sustainability, risk management, and resiliency are all part and parcel of the same conversation. When you think about sustainability, it really is, and the definition of it, folks often ask me, well, what does sustainability mean, and I tell them, well, it's a definition unto itself. It's the ability to sustain your operations moving forward into the future, right, sustain-ability.

As a result of that, when we think about what are some of the challenges that we face moving forward, just in the past 12 months, we've had water temperatures off the coast of Florida that reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit, we had a hurricane in Southern California for the first time in recent memory, we've had over 10 feet of snow in a weekend in Buffalo, all of which impacted cargo operations.

As a supply chain, it's our responsibility as part of our traditional function to be resilient to those types of shocks. When we project that out into the future, we're seeing more and more climate disruption that's going to start to occur and impact us around the world. As a result of that, we have to think on those longer time horizons so that we can sustain ourselves tomorrow or do what we do today, tomorrow. That's why in my mind, working on sustainability to limit our emissions, limit our waste streams, and figure out how we do what we do better, is all part and parcel with risk management and resiliency.

Bob: Getting ready for today, I was thinking, we went through a period where disruptions were the pandemic, they were the ports, they were the Panama Canal, all of those things, but most of what I can think of this year has been weather-related. Deborah, just a little twist on it, when we were talking in the green room to get up here, you said, but sustainability isn't enough. Talk about risk management, sustainability, and why sustain is not sufficient.

Deborah: Absolutely. Your fun fact for the morning is that the term sustainability was actually first coined in the German language in the 1700s around the mining industry. There's a process after you take minerals out of the ground, you need to process them, and you at the time used timber as part of that process. The man in charge did the math on the forest, they were near to figure out how much interest, how many trees you could take while not disturbing the capital. How do you preserve the capital but just use the interest? How do we sustain these operations for many, many, many, many, many years to come, many generations to come?

The challenge with that term then, which is a phenomenal description, is that we've now disturbed the capital, we've taken too much from the planet, we're actually running out of a number of known mineable metals in the planet that we need to run society and so we've pushed it a bit far. Now you hear this term, regeneration, or leaving the place better than we found it. Often you'll hear in corporate sustainability commitments and accomplishments about the communities that we work in. How do we return more water than we use? How do we help the community to learn more than they would have if we weren't there?

Then if we think about the concepts around the circular economy and material security that's on all of our minds, there's now this movement to go take trash out of the ocean and process that into a material our supply chains can use. While that's not certainly the number one item to go do in a circular supply chain, it is a way that we can help to regenerate the environment. We can take this fugitive material and value that's escaped our value chains and it's roaming around, causing havoc around the world. We can capture that back into our operations. That's one way that we can help to regenerate.

They're very similar close cousin terms, but think to yourself, once we get a good handle on how we can sustain our business and operations for many years to come, push yourselves a little bit further and then say, how do we actually leave the place better than we found it?

Nico: Just to maybe double-click on that, I think that's why we at Microsoft have made it a commitment not to be net zero emissions, which I'm sure everybody has heard the term net zero probably by 2050 or by 2040. We're actually shooting to be net negative emissions, which is to say we seek to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit on an annual basis because of that exact concept.

We've overrun the amount of carbon in the atmosphere just talking about that versus minerals and other things. We've overrun the amount of carbon that we've had budgeted for ourselves as a human race and society. By 2050, our goal is actually to remove all of the historical carbon that Microsoft has emitted since the mid-1970s when we were founded. We can talk a little bit about what we do with that carbon, both sequester it, and in some cases, actually use it, so turning that enemy or that problem into a solution.

Abe: Deborah, let me take you back to your opening remarks. You commented about awareness, understanding, and sort of adoption of sustainable business practices. You segmented the marketplace, those that understand and those that don't get it. Is it lack of definition? Is it avoidance? Is it denial? What are you seeing here?

Deborah: I find it's an awareness challenge. It's hard for us to go after what we never realize that we should be going after in the first place. We do have global brands like Microsoft who really are an outstanding example of what's possible when we properly apply performance management frameworks. This is what we know how to do from the SCOR model, of course, is to cascade these concepts, L1, L2, L3 metrics throughout our organizations. It's quite clear then what the organization needs to go and do and everything adds up to your goal.

The challenge is that the vast majority of supply chains I speak with are not clear on very specifically what does that looks like. It's obvious for us now with COGS, we can figure out lead time challenges. We can get around difficult suppliers, but we've never had this problem defined properly for us or together with us and so it's difficult for supply chains to know what to do. I've started to nicely harass supply chains like the one that Nico is in to say, look, can we help tell your story from my nonprofit so that others can have that example?

As I spend time unpacking concepts like what does it mean that our supply chains emit carbon? What actual activities are we doing that's causing these challenges? It's really eye-opening for supply chain professionals to hear, and I continue to be shocked that we don't have more resources available to us. I know that there are supply chains who are using the expanded SCOR DS sustainability focus as guideposts for their organizations. The work that we're able to do here when we get together as an ASCM community and leverage a SCOR model is really, really encouraging.

Nico: I was going to say, I think one of the other challenges is that given that this is a relatively new field compared to supply chain overall. There aren't professionals that are cross-trained yet. We haven't yet built those talent pipelines. Up here on stage, Deborah started as a supply chain professional and then migrated into the sustainability space, whereas I went the other direction. I started as what's called a Scope 3 professional, focusing on emissions that come from the value stream of a company, but then realized that in order to impact those emissions effectively, I actually had to understand the activities within the supply chain that were generating those emissions and therefore become a supply chain professional.

There aren't that many folks professionally that make those transitions, at least not enough today. That's why it's really important for us to continue to engage with organizations like ASCM to drive that type of cross-training and literacy in both directions. Both training sustainability professionals who might work in some ivory tower within your organization, what the operations actually look like, and vice versa. Taking the folks that are actually doing the value creation within the supply chain and cross-training them, as Deborah pointed out, on what the areas of emissions impact actually are.

Abe: Nico, you bring up an interesting point and that is the role or responsibility of the sustainability professional. Is that a function that you see across a lot of organizations, or do you see it disperse the responsibility across compliance, across the finance, across the supply chain? We struggled with that for a lot of years in the early part of the development of supply chain. Is this a profession? Is this something there is a body of knowledge that you can point to that drives what you're measuring and what you're held accountable for? Do you have a chief sustainability officer?

Nico: Yes, we do have a chief sustainability officer at Microsoft. Historically, actually, for pretty much every organization out there, sustainability really starts in that siloed function where it's about understanding how do we communicate the impact that we as an organization seek to have on society? Increasingly, what we're seeing now in the sustainability space is the embedding of sustainability professionals directly within the operational areas of the organization. Because we're able to sit in, in the meetings with our chief supply chain officers or with our heads of logistics, planning, sourcing, et cetera, we're able to better understand the challenges that our leadership team faces and therefore what the areas of opportunity actually are for us to move the needle on those activities towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

Abe: Thanks.

Deborah: It's interesting thinking about the example Nico just gave that many of us probably have embedded finance team members that sit alongside our team, but report through finance. With the discussions happening in the US with the SEC now, we're looking at the very real potential, and just passed California actually, interesting news to check out this morning, to have what's called finance-grade climate data available that's going to feel to us like GAP or SOX. As these transitions happen, I think we will get these types of embedded guides to sit along our teams. Just like we've had to learn a lot about finance so that we can function as an organization, we'll have to do the same around sustainability.

What I think is interesting, I've talked to a lot of teams these last couple of years, and this year actually, the Circular Supply Chain Network has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to start exploring what supply chain really truly means for the circular economy. In this discussion, what has been a challenge is that the main key stakeholder for EMF is a sustainability professional. It's really difficult for them to understand who is inside the supply chain to call because there are so many of us. They often find the wrong one of us, and it's not the conversation that we need to have.

We've started writing profiles of who to go and reach out to within the supply chain, often recommending a senior director or VP of strategy as a starting point because they understand the direction of the company, they're going to know everybody who might be anybody to pull into a conversation. This meeting point is really important and maybe one of the reasons why we've missed each other these last couple of years. Because we used to make the joke, I've never met anyone called a supply chain manager, and then I met one at ASCM Brussels, so I can't say that anymore.

There are so many of us and so many functions, and so what might actually be easier as an action for any of you listening, is to go look up your sustainability team, which I guarantee is smaller than the supply chain team, and help them out a little bit. Give them a little bit of a house tour, who the supply chain is, what's important to you, what your challenges are, what your key metrics are, and then you'll find out together that sustainability can be a strategy for you to achieve the goals that you already have and sometimes helps act as an innovation tool for your teams to look at the problem in a new way.

Bob: Deborah, I'm going to stick with you and then go to Nico on this next one. Let's deal with the elephant in the room because this came up in a bunch of panels I sat in on. Perception is reality and the perception is it's not a differentiator, it's a cost, and I can't sell it to the board because it's a cost. How do you counter that? Why isn't it a cost?

Deborah: Absolutely. Look, often when we are more efficient in the supply chain, if we use less materials, we figure out how to have higher quality in a manufacturing process, we have to buy less materials. If we do better planning, we need less inventory to support the same demand. If we can optimize our routes, we often drive fewer miles. Now, all of those activities will result in lower carbon emissions. The challenge is we haven’t integrated CO2 equivalent impacts into our operational systems, so we're not aware that we're actually doing good work. We just can't really tell anybody about it.

Often, it's cheaper to do the right thing, but we've got this idea of, "Oh, what's my ROI, how do I pitch this to the board?" What exactly are you pitching and what exactly are you asking for? Those are the conversations that are really interesting to start to have. Of course, without the foundation, it's a bit of a challenge. If we don't know what we're optimizing for, it's difficult for us to unpack those.

Another way I like to talk about this is to start answering the question, how sustainable can I afford to be? Instead of saying it's a trade-off, there's a very clear book of work around what if we were to hold our financial performance the same, how much more can we do within those constraints? In my words, supply chain professionals love a good constraint. We just need to take this and now we can solve within the constraints, but we've never put these on our operations, for the most part, and I'm really excited for what's possible once we do.

Bob: Nico, in listening to you and doing our rehearsal, one, I got the impression that at Microsoft, it is actually a board priority and that you're trying to make it a differentiator. How have you done that at Microsoft and why is it the case at your organization?

Nico: Just to maybe double-click on what Deborah was saying and back my way into answering your question, what if I told you guys that 90% of the emissions reductions that we achieved in logistics last year were actually margin-improving? Would you believe me? The answer to that is yes. Last year we successfully grew the volumes that were moving through our cloud logistics network by 47% to support the growth of our company. 47% increase in shipped volumes. While we had that increase, we actually successfully reduced emissions by 13% all while improving margin.

The way that we did that was simply by looking at the data. Also, to Deborah's point, you have to have the embedded system that enables you to quantify what you're trying to solve for, which in this case is carbon. For us, cascading that board-level priority, Bob, to your point, down to our operational managers and to our program managers within the logistics organization, really took a two-step approach.

First was aligning everybody behind a new mission that included sustainability as part of the explicit focus of each and every person on our logistics team. We articulated a vision that by 2030, we seek to be the world's most efficient, innovative, and sustainable logistics network out there for any high-tech compute organization. Now people know, across our team that sustainability is important all the way up to our head of logistics. That was step number one.

Step number two was empowering folks with the data and implementing a data foundation that allows us to quantify the difference in impact of the decisions that we're seeking to make. I said there was two steps, but there's actually a third one. The third one for us was to create a framework for evaluating each and every decision that we had. Traditionally, in a supply chain, we look, in logistics, at two things. What's the cycle time impact? How quickly is this going to get to my customer or move through the supply chain? Is it going to increase that time or decrease it? The second thing is cost. Those are the traditional metrics.

We added a third C, cost, cycle time, and carbon. Every single decision that we make as an organization has to have, before the decision is made, an estimate on those three Cs of supply chain sustainability. Now, we know that we can't win on all three dimensions in every decision that we make. That's almost impossible to solve for, so we treat every decision as part of an investment portfolio and we attempt to optimize for margin improvement, i.e., cost reduction, cycle time that's going to enable us to hit our manufacturing targets and capacity delivered into our data centers, and then also try to achieve our carbon reduction targets that we've cascaded every single year between now and 2030 to achieve our goal.

Abe: Nico, I'm going to dig into this a little bit. We did a study with the Economist Intelligence Unit that identified Scope 3 emissions. Approximately 60 plus percent are derived from the supply chains from organizations. Among the things that challenged us during the pandemic was transparency and visibility, the awareness of the extended supply chain, Tier 2, Tier 3 organizations, predominantly small and medium-sized organizations.

I'm sure you've heard this before. Microsoft has the resources. They have the tremendous liquidity and ability to make the kind of commitments to sustainability as you're doing right now. How do you bring along your suppliers' Tier 2, Tier 3 who may not have either the sophistication or the competency or the leverage to report or to provide the same type of information that you're providing right now?

Nico: It's a great question because we're entirely reliant on the ship operator, the aircraft operator, or the truck operator to be able to achieve our emissions goals, and if we don't bring them along for the journey, we're not going to make it. For us, I think there's a couple of different strategies that we've employed to help bring people along for the ride. The first thing that we did is we had to survey all of our suppliers, Tier 1 logistics service providers, and then also the carriers, which would be effectively our Tier 2, and understand what are their goals on sustainability?

What we found was when we actually look at aviation and maritime shipping, two of our larger areas of impact from a sustainability aspect in the transportation organization, that the International Maritime Organization and IKO, the regulatory bodies that govern those two industries, actually have carbon targets that more or less align with science today. That wasn't necessarily the case two years ago, but it's evolved in the most recent meetings at the UN level.

What we try to do is position ourselves as a partner of our Tier 2 providers in de-risking sustainability implementations, excuse me, within their own organizations saying, "Hey, we're willing to work together to try to help you make the improvements that we need you to make in order to achieve the goal." That can look like a whole bunch of different things, and I don't think we necessarily have time to dig into the specifics of that today, but that type of conversation changes it from a commercial relationship in which it's a hierarchical customer supplier conversation, to one of partnership where we talk about the total value.

The second thing is that we don't actually ask our logistics service providers or transportation companies to calculate carbon data. That's not what they're good at. They're good at moving product on time, damage-free, and at the most competitive cost from point A to point B. That has been their charter for forever. We, on the other hand, have the ability to invest in the carbon calculation systems that help us better understand what good looks like and we then share that data back with our providers.

It enables us to have a much more intelligent conversation where we can say, hey, we recognize the impact of this movement that we are asking you to do as the customer, but if we tweak that movement slightly, we can actually get to a better outcome on sustainability. Then they can tell us operationally, these are the challenges with that potential proposal. Then we can go back and forth and come to a solution that, back to the previous comment about treating it like an investment portfolio, enables us to really balance between cost, cycle time reduction, and carbon reduction.

Abe: Deb, let me follow up on that because among things that we're seeing is a number of companies stop reporting on their sustainability metrics right now. They're concerned about being held accountable for their reports. Then we have organizations that greenwash what their activities are. Give me a sense of how we can separate the accountability versus the reporting and public information. Microsoft is very open about what they're doing. Not so much on a lot of other organizations, specifically public organizations.

Deborah: Absolutely. It's difficult, and this is where Nico said earlier that a lot of these topics end up being synonymous with risk management because how do we have brand reputational risk contained as we start to go try to pioneer a space that's never been done before? I think the ‘what do we disclose’ discussions are short-lived. I think policy is moving very, very rapidly and to some extent without us and to some extent with us, so that's positive. I think that that piece will be solved.

What I often spend time thinking about is how much do we share about our cost per unit? Not very much. How much do we share about our cycle time or lead times? A lot because that piece we can really boast about. You want it yesterday? We'll get it to you yesterday. We haven't really talked about sustainability in this way and I still think it will be a strategy to achieve the goals that we need to achieve. For some organizations who are more mature, it can become a third decision point like Nico has explained for Microsoft.

I think we do this collectively. I think I'm seeing a great positive trend on supplier summits and part of that is a big learning day on what does this mean? We bring in speakers. You get a lot of extra information and help because you're a supplier in our network. I'm also seeing failed supplier audits shift away from punitive responses to actually more help. If you failed, clearly you need something and so I'm going to help you actually learn more and increase your capabilities and maturity in this space. Not dissimilar to how we might help them with their technical expertise so that they can produce our inputs at a higher quality level, now we need to start learning how to help them on this journey as well, which, again, gets back to Nico's point about the cross-training and the importance for supply chain professionals to grasp the basics.

I will say my last PSA of this podcast is that it is not as complicated as the world and the internet is making this seem. I'm working really hard with many of you to simplify what it is that we need to do as a profession. That conversation, I invite you all to join because time's a ticking and it's time for us to get started.

Bob: Abe, do we have time for one more? If not, I'd like to ask you the last question.

Abe: Go ahead.

Bob: Okay. All right. We've just had a great conversation and you did not disappoint because we did have a lively one and you always worry that you'll leave it back in the green room. Abe, we've got multiple associations within supply chain. What role can ASCM, ISM, CSCMP, MHI, what responsibility does the associations have to bringing this topic forward and educating your members? What role can you play?

Abe: Interesting point, because I think we missed an opportunity. There's associations that represent supply chain professionals, doctors, lawyers, and then there are associations that represent the industries. National Retail Federation, American Beverage Association, that represent the companies. It's not that they don't recognize that they have an opportunity, but we can't get alignment within the industries even on what should be reported, how often it should be reported. To Deborah's point, it's becoming much more regulatory or policy as opposed to industry-driven. Then it becomes the lowest common denominator relative to what your reporting is.

I think that's the concern that we have, is that the associations had an opportunity to get ahead of this. Unfortunately, we're laggards now relative to reporting on sustainability. Public companies are much more likely to be reporting. Obviously, they're held accountable. When you start to see regulations from the SEC on reporting on the financial statements, it's going to start to make a difference, but unfortunately, I think the association industry has missed a opportunity. I don't know that it's totally gone, but I think we still have an opportunity to get and start to influence what is measured, how it's measured, how it's reported when it's reported. I know we as an organization, working with Ellen MacArthur and a number of other organizations, are attempting to get that into at least the discussion in the association market.

Bob: Deborah mentioned coming regulation, so there's the opportunity to lead or be led, right?

Abe: Yes.

Bob: Maybe this is for all three of you, and then Abe can take us out, but are we leading or are we being led?

Nico: Wow. Big question to close this out here. [laughs] I think that-

Bob: I wanted to leave on a high note

Nico: -that it's a combination of both. We actually have seen some areas, for example, in the International Maritime Organization, where industry did lead and create the first global framework on decarbonization that came from the shipping industry of all places for an industry to come together and say, hey, this is our strategy for achieving our global climate goals. That strategy had to be revised a couple of times in order to actually hold up to the science, but now that we're at the place that we are, we've seen that maritime and aviation have both taken that tact. Trucking as well in the US with the SmartWay initiative from EPA.

I think, though, that we have a knowledge gap, particularly on the customer side though. We as supply chain professionals that make the transactional decisions on what we're purchasing, what services we're utilizing, don't necessarily have the right understanding or knowledge to make those decisions in a way that are climate friendly. That's where organizations like the ASCM can really help upskill cross-train all of you that are in the room and everybody listening to this podcast to help understand how do I make the right decision for my company on those three C's, cost, carbon, and cycle time?

Deborah: I will say, not really answering your question, supply chain professionals are leaders, period. We're involved in every single part of our organizations. We have more seats at more tables now than we ever have before. We do influence the way our organizations work because simply it's a matter of physics often. Can we build that or not? Can we ship that or not? Can it get to the shelf or can't it? As we continue to be leaders, this is a space I believe we will continue to be leaders in, we just need to be clear on what it is that we're measuring and optimizing for.

Abe: Bob, I couldn't agree more. With Nico and Deborah in terms of the position, but I think this goes back to one of the first points that we made on Monday, and that's the collaboration and communication and what is euphemistically called soft skills. There's nothing soft about being collaborative with your team members within the organization, across functions. We talked about chief sustainability officers, CFOs, compliance officers are now part and parcel of supply chain. Extending that outside of the organization to collaborate with your partners for the extended supply chain, I think brings it holistically into an organization's at least the accountability and responsibility to say, we are accountable for this, and I think that's a significant step.

We've been working with a number of associations that are trying to recognize the sustainability officer within the organization that functions within the organization, at least as a starting point. I think that's a great place for us to start. Lastly, I think it's the leadership side that we as supply chain professionals need to take on this. We have the opportunity. It is right there for you within your organization to step up and say, I want to be accountable for this. This is nothing to run away from. This is something to embrace. To Deborah's point here, you've got to address this. It is not going away. It's growing every year and I think this is a significant opportunity for supply chain professionals to lead the charge.

Bob: All yours.

Abe: Thank you both. I think we can continue this conversation for hours as usual. That is all the time that we have today. A special thanks to our guests, Nico and Deborah. Thank you so much for all your insights and, again, look forward to the next episode of The Rebound, and for The Rebound, I'm Abe Eshkenazi.

Bob: I'm Bob Trebilcock. Thanks for attending.

Abe: Thank you.


Announcer: The Rebound is a joint production of the Association for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Management Review. For more information, be sure to visit and We hope you'll join us again.


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