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ASCM Insights

Ringing in the Optimism

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Happy New Year! It feels great to be able to greet you in 2021. In the past year, we experienced a pandemic that took far too many lives and created the biggest disruption to manufacturing operations in modern history. We also lived through a recession, a skyrocketing number of cyberattacks, a heated U.S. presidential election, and multiple reasons to have our voices heard through protest. In short, 2020 was a year we won’t soon forget and one that will forever change the way we live and do business.

As the world rebuilds, supply chain will continue to play a vital role — whether making and distributing COVID-19 tests, manufacturing vaccine doses and related supplies, managing cold-chain logistics, or handling the last-mile delivery to share the lifesaving medicine with people across the globe. 

This past year also gave many people a deeper appreciation for the Earth. During stay-at-home advisories, hiking, neighborhood walks and gardening gave us a break from staring at our walls. And, as I wrote on Earth Day, the shift in behaviors caused pollution levels to plummet, waterways to run clear, and animals to reclaim parks.

Many of us saw this as an important opportunity to reconsider business practices and double down on sustainability efforts: Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to make the technology company’s products and supply chain carbon neutral by 2030. Many automakers are working to produce affordable electric vehicles to help reduce drivers’ environmental impacts. And Tesla CEO Elon Musk aims to make a $25,000 electric car within the next three years. Furthermore, Gartner says 70% of supply chain leaders plan to invest in the circular economy by 2022.

We can come back from anything

In spite of environmental wins, 2020 was tough for many businesses. Some closed their doors permanently, and many workers faced reduced hours or lost their jobs. In the coming years, I hope those displaced by the pandemic, and others, will tap into ASCM’s reskilling tools and find satisfying new careers in supply chain.

This brings me to something gratifying from the past year: the results of ASCM’s 2020 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report. We learned that 88% of you feel positively about your careers and 85% would recommend supply chain as a career path to others. In spite of the incredible pressure placed on supply chains in 2020, we love what we do — perhaps even more, now that we’ve witnessed the countless ways supply chains make an impact.    

With your determination and enthusiasm, the global supply chain community will push past the challenges of 2020 and continue creating a better world. The past year may have been dark, but I know the future is bright.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer at ASCM, the largest nonprofit association for supply chain and the global leader in supply chain organizational transformation and innovation. Prior to this, he was the managing director for the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. His leadership roles have included project management, business process redesign, and individual and organizational alignment. Eshkenazi may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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