Focus on three things to ensure success

16 May 2011

16 May 2011 | Steve Bagshaw in Orlando

Buyers should concentrate on three areas to make a success of their roles, their organisations and the profession according to Sidney Johnson, VP global supply management at automotive supplier Delphi.

Firstly, he said: “Understand your business beyond supply chain - we spend not enough time on the business and too much on the function,” and this included recruiting people with a range of experiences. “We need staff who can walk in to any business and have credibility. You need diversity of thought and experiences among your team.”

Secondly, he urged delegates at the opening session of the Institute for Supply Management's 96thannual international supply management conference in Orlando to “build your brand for the profession”. This includes attracting people in to supply chain and knowing how the rest of the business operates. “Encourage would-be recruits to focus on the fact they will be responsible for 50 per cent of the organisation’s costs, and have the chance to travel and see the world.” He said in his personal experience he had learnt 15 different processes, and “understands how you make stuff and how you check it”. He urged buyers to “sell the profession,” adding that “Delphi don’t make it if we don’t perform because we are 55 per cent of the costs”.

This kind of motivation also works for existing staff during difficult periods. Delphi has itself filedfor Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the past. “Have a vision, set the mission. Be suppliers’ customer of choice,” he said. “Our mission is to serve business product units and their profitable growth, we are a service. Selling the team that the company is on the right track, that we are important and it values our contribution will help convince staff to hang in there and this will be a rewarding place to be.”

Thirdly he said: “Focus on things that help you today and tomorrow.” This included a look at emerging markets. For instance he said that by 2020 Russia will be the largest economy in Europe. And that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will account for 40 per cent of the population of the world’s top 10 economies.

Johnson also forecast that the next generation of consumers will be more green, but cautioned that “the targets keep moving” for sustainability and the consumer-driven agenda allied to local differences made this a huge challenge for the profession.

He urged delegates to “find greater visibility and clarity to protect shareholders”. This included understanding total supply chain cost and ensuring supply chains are robust enough to sustain disasters such as the recent Japanese earthquake.

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