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ASCM Insights

With Supply Chain Excellence, Growth Knows No Limits

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Tech giant Apple just reported its biggest quarterly profit ever. Ever. Amid a pandemic, labor shortages, unparalleled supply chain disruptions and an ongoing chip crisis, America’s third-largest company has continued to find ways to grow. There’s no doubt that this is largely due to CEO Tim Cook’s unique supply chain mastery.

Prior to taking the helm in 2011, Cook served as senior vice president of worldwide operations; then executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations; and then chief operating officer, when he was responsible for the end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales service and support. Along the way, he’s helped guide the company through several quarters of record profit. Most recently, for its first fiscal quarter of 2022, quarterly revenue rose 11% year-over-year to a record $123.9 billion. This far surpassed analysts’ expectations.

Because of its size, Apple has the capital and influence to be the customer of choice for many suppliers, which is clearly propelling its growth. As tech reporter Dan Gallagher points out in The Wall Street Journal, “In a market where even chip equipment makers can’t get enough chips, the world’s largest maker of consumer electronics found plenty.” 

In addition, Apple was able to minimize its operating costs at a time when many other tech companies are spending more on supply and transportation. In Q1 2022, the company’s operating income skyrocketed 24% year-over-year to $41.5 billion, resulting in operating margins of 33.6%, its highest in a decade. 

When asked during a quarterly earnings call if last year’s supply chain disruptions made him rethink Apple’s supply chain, Cook replied: “Our largest issue by far has been the chip shortage. … I think our supply chain actually does very good considering the shortages because it's a fast-moving supply chain. The cycle times are very short. There’s very little distance between a chip being fabricated and packaged and a product going out of [the] factory. And so no, I don't see that it makes a fundamental change in the supply chain.” 

Enabling your professional development

Apple’s story proves that supply chain excellence is the backbone of operating and financial excellence. The challenge, however, is that supply chain excellence looks different at different organizations, based on their industry, size and countless other factors. For instance, Apple’s route to success primarily involved capitalizing on its size; whereas smaller companies would need to leverage different approaches. Sure, there are some basic principles and common best practices, but each supply chain is unique and ultimately has its own opportunities and challenges.

Likewise, every ASCM member has distinct professional needs. With this in mind, ASCM is excited to launch our new membership model to better serve you. The yearly global membership price is $99, with the opportunity to upgrade for additional benefits, such as certification discounts or local affiliations. There’s also a monthly membership option, which is perfect if you’re new to supply chain and want to begin discovering this exciting field.

Whether you’re just getting started, leading a team of cross-functional professionals or interested in giving back through mentorship and volunteering, ASCM is with you at every stage of your career. Check out all the ways ASCM membership can be customized to accelerate your professional growth.

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 at abe@ascm.org.

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