Our Ask an Expert series continues, and I am delighted to have the woman, who colleagues and clients affectionately call the “Supply Chain Queen”, Sheri Hinish as my next interview partner
In Sheri’s own words, she is a“ STEMinist, SHE-E-O, a queen who is un-queenie, and a Rebel who loves bringing out the best in people”. She has made a career simplifying the complex, rethinking supply chain strategy and the human experience. Her vision is to change the world through shared purpose & sustainable supply chain, circularity, and building technology grounded in the principles of sustainable development. Through the lens of purpose, process, technology, and human behaviour, Sheri helps brands, executives, and STEM professionals explore new school supply chain, sustainability, innovation, design thinking, and leading transformation.
Sheri has been recognized as a 2020 & 2019 Supply & Demand Chain Executive “Pro to Know,” an IBM Futurist, and a leading advocate/strategist/influencer that brands consistently leverage to connect their customers with trends in supply chain, retail, manufacturing, sustainability, and change leadership in digital transformations. Some of her 2020 clients include SAP Ariba, Celonis, Salesforce, UPS, and IBM. Her focus is advisory and consulting, events, custom media, and thought leadership.
Emilia Ashton (EA): What do you think the main challenge is for supply chains moving forward?
Sheri Hinish (SH): Supply chains power the world and are at an inflection point. Moving forward, challenging paradigms, and balancing traditional levers of quality, service, and efficiency will be challenging. Paradigm shifts that are happening across global supply chains include:
- analog versus digital
- lowest price versus value creation
- financial versus non-financial KPIs to diagnose supply chain health
- global versus local
- familiarity versus diversity
- disruptive innovation versus incremental improvement
- linear versus circular
- power versus purpose when it comes to influencing changes needed in the future of work.
While I’ve described several shifts needed, the challenge is transforming the business-as-usual operating model which requires rethinking, even redesigning our way of working.
EA: How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will change supply chains?
SH: The coronavirus has highlighted the complexity in global supply chains and need for accelerated adoption of technology for stewardship, connectivity, agility, insights, and better collaboration. I’ve seen two groups emerge: 1) companies who are doubling down on technology investments and innovation and 2) others who struggle to understand the power of digital transformation. The emphasis in risk management has been under emphasized for far too long. Many supply chain organizations still lack business continuity strategy and deep-supplier relationships beyond tier-1. We have access to network-based insights, tools, and techniques to proactively monitor, design and respond near-time with sophisticated modelling. It’s hard for some supply chain leaders and practitioners to open their eyes to the opportunities when they sit behind piles of paper and manual work.
EA: The pandemic has seen more and more supply chain start to use new technologies. What technologies should supply chain professionals be looking out for?
Despite what many technologists and software vendors think, supply chains are not solely run on laptops. The technology that excites me the most is the use of AI and data analytics unlike anything we have ever seen; the ability to form causals and ingest millions of data points in a second to derive actions will not be a ‘nice-to-have,’ but a must in the future of work. What-if scenario planning and the use of digital twins is also promising in advanced supply chain planning.
EA: Many supply chains were trying to become more sustainable before the pandemic. Do you think that the pandemic will result in supply chains putting sustainability on hold? What should supply chains do to become more sustainable?
SH: A huge tenet of sustainability is risk management, specifically how we manage social and environmental risks across trading partners, in our supply base, and in the markets we serve. This hasn’t changed if anything it’s become more of an emphasis. When people think about sustainability, I think they forget the emphasis on people and economic impacts. Amid human health crisis and the changes associated to COVID, we are struggling to meet the needs of folks who stand up our supply chains – equitably. The climate emergency has not been cancelled. In fact, climate change impacts over 80% of the Sustainable Development Goal targets. Climate change touches everything, we just don’t talk as openly about it. Maybe it’s because the social cost of carbon is externalized whereby offenders aren’t directly impacted?
Supply chains must become more transparent. We’ve seen many companies support the Black Lives Matter movement recently. Turning this public commitment into action by hiring for diversity, equity, and inclusion…publishing your results annually, creating a pipeline of ethnically diverse candidates, creating access and conduits to education for women all will contribute to being “sustainable”. The best advice I have is walk the talk. Own your sh*t. Investors are holding companies accountable for non-financial performance, but many still lag in being accountable for grandiose sustainability campaigns.
EA: What would be your advice for anyone who wants to work in the supply chain sector?
SH: My advice is to be curious and explore. The field is changing so much, if you aren’t committed to learning and creating new experiences, you’ll likely be left behind (or at a minimum miss out on super cool things happening at your fingertips). My advice to women is to be bold, find your voice, and roar! I spent so many years worried about things that were out of my control. Networking and building relationships matter. Embrace building your brand on social media. Be a part of your algorithm. Please feel free to reach and connect with me and listen to the Supply Chain Revolution Podcast. All the best!
EA: Thank you so much for taking part in our interview Sheri. You have provided some really useful and unique insights.
We would encourage all our readers to check out the Supply Chain Revolution Podcast. It explores insights, strategies, and tools driving change to shape critical aspects of business, environmental, and social responsibility. Supply Chain Revolution is a trusted community for thinkers, leaders, learners, storytellers, practitioners, and problem solvers who don’t conform to the norm. As Rebels leading the revolution, SCRev has a healthy disrespect for the status quo and pulse to improve the world. We don’t follow the standard. We set it.
If you want to take part in our Supply Chain Ask an Expert series, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header Image: Avosb – Getty Images