A Circuitous Path to Supply Management
Practitioners who come from other professions find that, while they need to learn new skill sets, capabilities from previous jobs can help them in their new roles.
By Sue Doerfler
LEARNING FROM SOMETHING NEW
A background in information technology and accounting led Sheri Hinish to supply management. She had been working in IT, supporting the chief information officer of a leading wholesale wine and spirits distributor that didn’t have a supply management function. "I was curious and excited to learn something new, to build something new," she says. "So, I joined a newly formed supply chain organization and began building from the ground floor and leading cross-functional transformative projects."
Now, Hinish is a leading influencer in supply management and sustainability, as well as for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She has established a growing brand as the Supply Chain Queen, in which, as an executive adviser, she is helping companies reimagine their supply chains, manage talent and transform themselves. She found that her technology and accounting experience were beneficial as she changed careers. "Technology is an enabler in many progressive supply chain modernization initiatives," Hinish says.
"The relationships I formed over the years allowed for agile progress and shorted the learning curve for others in the organization. We knew each other, and there was a level of comfort and trust. This foundation created a space for change."
Changing careers into supply management can be challenging. The scope of supply management—and how much there is to learn — can be daunting. It also can take time to assimilate to working in a new area.
"Most people naturally resist change," Hinish says. "It’s been built into our DNA to seek comfort and a stable state. I’ve found in my journey, and while helping others, that we can be our own worst enemy during change." Her biggest challenge, she says, was having the confidence that "although this was a new endeavor and a new field with new experiences, I was equipped and had the knowledge to lead transformations in sales and operations planning, advanced analytics and supplier collaboration."
She adds, "Switching professions is only as difficult as you allow."
"As I transitioned to other roles with other companies, I clearly saw the benefits of my previous jobs. With advances in supply chain technology, it’s critical to understand which investments add the most value in an organization. It’s also critical to understand and articulate speed-to-value and financial incentives in adopting a new way of working."