5 minutes with Guy Strafford on supply chain planning for 2023

posted by Guy Strafford
2 September 2022

Guy Strafford, Proxima Group chief client officer, speaks with Supply Management about the importance of planning to stay informed, and hopefully ahead, of changing trends.

Guy, what are the most crucial issues for supply chain management, both in right now and in the coming months?

Well we’re approaching the end of the year, so it’s now the time to start thinking about plans for 2023. Such as, if current trends continue, you know it will be another difficult year – so we need to consider what the key trends are to look out for, if they will continue and if new trends will emerge.

Which supply chain trends are you focused on at the moment?

Inflation and supply chain disruption are two. Inflation is when too much money chases too few goods. The too few goods element is well understood. The supply limitations have been the short-term combination of Chinese supply chains being constrained by the government due to Covid, the Ukraine war limiting access to oil and gas after a number of years of reduced investment in energy, and various agricultural products such as wheat, deglobalisation of certain markets due to political intervention. This has been exacerbated by labour market shortages as a result of Brexit in the UK and immigration limitations in the US, on top of people in their 50s leaving the labour market post-Covid.

The too much money aspect is a consequence of long-term quantitative easing that underpinned government borrowing to keep interest rates down and government expenditure up, partly in the form of stimulus cheques in the US and employment support in the UK during Covid, causing consumers to save initially then switch to a burst of expenditure when they could.

So given your consideration of the consumer landscape, do you think these trends will stay or go?

Unfortunately, the answer is that most of the points above are a product of politics and while they could be reversed if the political will was there, I see little evidence that the political will (or capability) exists to reverse them. On that basis, you might think 2023 will be more of the same. 

However, this all underestimates the extent to which markets respond to price incentives to create more supply. My guess is that aside from China not changing how it deals with Covid within China itself, the market will react to the other forces at play and inflation will abate, but it will do so at different paces as different industries adapt at a different rate.

You’re this year’s chair of Procurement Futures, by CIPS. How does this support SCM planning?

Yes, it’s a privilege to chair the conference. We have amazing speakers joining and it will focus on relevance ie. the latest up-to-date thinking on how the best and brightest are dealing with current disruptions such as inflation, volatility, uncertainty and sustainability, on the ground and in the moment. This will span FTSE 100 firms, government, recruitment and more. It will explore ideas, the best ideas out there, with speakers talking about mistakes they've made, so you don’t need to make them, and techniques that work.

So while it will cover a wide range of perspectives on how to prepare yourself and your organisation for the future, it is more than that, it’s about providing a multiplicity of ways of engaging with those speakers and other attendees. Information is essential, lesson sharing is essential, and by making these a priority, attendees are more likely to get nuggets of inspiration to take away with them. If people disagree with anything I’ve said here, or want to know more about which industries are reacting and how, they will be able to discuss it there.

Can you tell me more about the multiple ways of connecting with people?

Everyone is different so the aim is to give attendees different ways to engage with speakers and one another, to power these discussions on activating planning and preparedness. The speakers are not only speaking, many are giving one-to-one time to help talk through challenges being faced. There will be multiple formats and ways to engage, including more intimate workshops, one-to-one coaching and career advice ranging from the jobs market as a whole to personal CVs, all varied through use of the big speech, the interview, the Ted talk style, through to the private sessions. Another example is networking, lots of technology and practical tools on the day will help people find attendees with similar interests to enable people to share experiences.

And what do you expect to gain from the event?

I am super excited to be chairing because it combines the best in the profession focused on highly relevant, timely subjects with lots of different ways of engaging – I’m looking forward to hearing the discussions over the two days, and attendees' views on what they think will happen and how they’re preparing for 2023 and beyond.



Procurement Futures, by CIPS is taking place in London on 4-5 October. You can find more information at: procurementfutures.com

Brighton, East Sussex
Up to £47,672 per annum + benefits
Castlefield Recruitment
Brighton, East Sussex
Up to £47,672 per annum + benefits
Castlefield Recruitment
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates