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ASCM Insights

Resilient Companies Need Resilient Workers


A recent article from McKinsey & Company proposes: “Imagine a crisis that forces your company’s employees to change the way they work almost overnight. Despite initial fears that the pressure would be too great, you discover that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term.”

Yes, telecommuting is a massive shift. But today’s workforce challenges are about a lot more than Zoom meetings and mastering the art of being productive from your kitchen table. Even before the global pandemic, emerging technologies were disrupting roles and responsibilities. In fact, back in 2017, McKinsey estimated that 375 million workers would have to either switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030.

That dynamic, combined with today’s record-high unemployment and heightened awareness of supply chain, are presenting remarkable opportunities for our profession. Now is the time to build a superior supply chain workforce of the future. And that hinges on education, training, reskilling and upskilling.

McKinsey cites six key steps:

  1. Identify the proficiencies your recovery business model depends on. Map out which skill pools will disproportionately affect it and drive it forward. To do this, identify crucial value drivers and employee groups. Specify their contributions to value creation, and reimagine how their day-to-day work will change as a result of value shifts. Identify the behavior and skills needed. Finally, specify the quantity and type of people you need.
  2. Build employee skills essential to your new business model. Upskill the critical workforce pools that will drive a disproportionate amount of value in your adjusted business model. Establish a “no-regrets” tool kit — one that is useful no matter how an employee’s specific role may evolve.
  3. Launch tailored learning journeys to close skill gaps. Obtain a detailed view of the core activities that critical groups will undertake in the next 12-18 months and which skills each of these groups require.
  4. Start now, test rapidly, and iterate. Whatever education and training you do today should also be used to expand your capabilities tomorrow. By building your own institutional learning, and capturing what works and what doesn’t now, you position yourself to apply those lessons during future disruptions.
  5. Follow agile principles and make bold moves quickly, while maintaining a clear view of your skill deficiencies in order to prioritize the gaps you need to address and select the right candidates for reskilling.
  6. Protect education budgets. If you cut your budgets now, you’re only delaying the investment you will need after recovery. Don’t waste years when you could be developing resilience now.

Take the lead

On May 28, Kent Brown, supply chain practice leader at Korn Ferry; John Caltagirone, founding director of Loyola University’s Business Leadership Hub; Elizabeth Rennie, Editor-in-Chief for SCM Now magazine; and I will present the free webinar, Supply Chain Workforce of the Future. We will explore

  • why superior workforce development, talent management, and diversity and inclusion are essential to achieving resilience
  • how supply chain leaders can maximize this moment of understanding to close the talent gap
  • the key characteristics to cultivate in your employees, based on Korn Ferry’s digital survey, ASCM’s salary survey and Loyola’s academic studies
  • the importance of prioritizing a people-first mindset and an ongoing focus on ethical business practices.

COVID-19 has underscored the need for resilient supply chain professionals to lead their companies toward a better future. Begin acquiring some of these essential skills by attending this insightful event.

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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