Written by John Kultgen
Meet Sheri Hinish. To colleagues and clients, she’s known as the “Supply Chain Queen.” Hinish has made a career out of helping brands rethink supply chain sales and operations planning, strategy, and talent management. She’s also a recognized IBM Futurist, and a strong voice across social and professional online communities. Now pursuing a master’s degree at Harvard University with a focus in sustainability, Hinish encourages leaders to see the business and social benefits of a circular economy. In this interview with Industrious, Hinish expands on her vision for the future of supply chain.
What drew you to supply chain management in the first place?
SH: I love understanding connections, people, and learning. I also love transformation, taking something from one state and making it something magnificent. At its core, supply chain encompasses both of these things: it connects the dots across strategy, people, process, and technology, and provides an environment for change.
You spend your days helping supply chain executives and professionals transform their approach to supply chain management. What’s the biggest concern the people you meet with have?
SH: The biggest concern executives have is what investments in supply chain technology will yield the most value and how to balance the pace of adoption and the pace of change. The management of change is increasingly important, as is providing the perspective that technology is an enabler; it does not replace good process and an engaging culture. You can have the best strategy in the world, but nothing replaces a culture of integrity and compassion.
You’ve mentioned that supply chain is currently in a renaissance. What are the most significant changes taking place?
SH: The most significant changes involve incorporating new ways of working and connecting across traditional supply chain processes and functions in a new digital ecosystem. Anticipating and delivering products to customers when and where they need them requires understanding the voice of the customer and being able to translate it into capabilities that leverage new sensing, planning, production, reporting, visibility, and execution.
You often talk about the advantages of marrying supply chain management and sustainability. Why is that such an important issue for you, and for businesses?
SH: For a company to be successful, it must master supply chain management. I also believe that to succeed as human beings, we need to master sustainability. We can and must inevitably do both. There is a way to align people, planet, and profit in supply chain, achieve cost-effectiveness, satisfy the voice of the customer, and reduce or eliminate negative impact on the environment.
With all the advancements in technology over the past few years, it’s not likely that every supply chain manager is moving fast enough. What’s the most important step a supply chain professional can take today to start a transformation?
SH: If I had to recommend one thing, it’s to take the time to understand your current state. Document your processes across functions and within your ecosystem of trading partners. Really understand the handoffs, your organization’s capabilities, how you measure success, and how you incentivize behaviors. I’d spend more time dialing in good process and developing talent and effective behaviors in your supply chain organization, focusing on nurturing the soil and roots.
As seen in Industrious Magazine, Issue 4, Page 15 ~> https://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/03/en/03022303usen/1_7_2019_industrious4_master_digital_03022303USEN.pdf