The Rise of Human Capital in Supply Chain Performance
Author: Kimble Winter, Chief Executive Officer, Logistics Executive Group
This month, Logistics Executive Group, Group Chief Executive Officer Mr Kimble Winter reflects on celebrating 16 years of company operations. This has included changes in HR business practices, along with the increasing importance of supply chain people in driving business performance.
This month, Logistics Executive Group celebrates our 16th year in business serving the supply chain and logistics sectors; it is a great opportunity to reflect on how the industry, our customers, and our own operations have evolved.
In 1999 we were a small team of supply chain executives who decided to apply a white collar, professional approach to what up until that time was perceived by many to be a blue-collar industry sector.
As a start-up based in Sydney, we focused on mid to senior level supply chain and logistics executives, who had previously been serviced by the larger ‘generalist’ recruitment companies, mainly headquartered offshore. It took 5 years to build trust and credibility as a local specialist human capital partner and after successfully opening business units in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, we began serving customers in Europe (Amsterdam) and Asia (Singapore).
As we expanded organically across the main logistics hubs of Asia (Hong Kong and Shanghai), the Middle East (Dubai) and India (Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai) it was clear that the complexity of the markets and customers we were developing was matched only by the diversity of economic environments, cultures, business practices, and the talent we found ourselves working with.
Our mantra was “the only thing we now about tomorrow is that it will be different from today”, to say life became exciting, as the Global Financial crisis hit in 2008, is an understatement. Throughout this period of massive economic challenge and change, our customers’ requirements were continually evolving as the pressures of transformation influenced all businesses in one way or another. The need to adapt, realign, reshape, and restructure organisations was manifest across all markets and verticals.
In our case, this included increasing our investment in our Asia operations as a defined growth market and exiting the Australian contract labor market to focus our resources and expand our Executive Search and Recruitment business on the Australian East Coast. In 2014, we opened our UK business unit with the West Australian office opening Sept 2015.
Where many had sought specialist talent from us previously in a high demand low supply market, new requirements for advice including organisational re design, rightsizing, talent development, retraining, reskilling, coaching and other retention strategies became prevalent. Many leaders realized that irrespective of economic conditions, securing and empowering new or existing human capital was essential to business unit competitive survival and growth and they invested accordingly.
As well-known global Hong Kong based supply chain thought leader Mark Millar writes in his recently released bestselling book Global Supply Chain Ecosystems (Published by Kogan Page, June 2015) “Few if any other industry sectors are still so utterly dependent upon people to design, operate and manage its systems and equipment as the Supply Chain”. Millar reflects on his 20 years in Supply Chain leadership, using examples and case studies to identify and highlight the relevance of human capital within the multi-dimensional touch points across the complexity of supply chain ecosystems.
Many who did not grasp the cross-functional significance of their most valuable asset during the GFC struggled, with many businesses failing altogether. During this turbulent time, some customers appreciated the connections we had developed across the markets we had evolved in and reached out for support to make acquisitions or to sell parts of their business. This led to the emergence or our Mergers & Acquisitions business unit.
Many customers who came through the Global Financial Crisis, having made tough decisions to collaborate, reshape, and improve their business operations, were ready to take advantage of the renewed market stability. This included the APAC, Middle East, and Africa regions in particular. By 2011/12 many agile organisations sought to explore emerging markets for new opportunities. We were able partner with them by leveraging our private sector and Government relationships across our global footprint. Our Trade Facilitation activities have developed from strong associations with Australian, New Zealand, South East Asian and the Middle East Government and industry trade organisations, assisting our clients to expand across borders into mainly emerging markets.
The constant demand for knowledge, training and human capital development led to our creation of a new training platform. This resulted in the launch in 2015 of our Logistics Academy platform, providing daily industry newsfeeds, an extensive range of publications, industry events, and a comprehensive suite of Educational and Training Programs that cater for all levels of professionals looking to further enhance their supply chain and logistics skills and careers. With a range of online quick courses, specialized short courses, certificate based and diploma e-learning products through to MBA’s with a focus on Supply Chain Management, Logistics Academy and our partners bring together cutting-edge Supply Chain and Logistics training and development.
Human Resources thought leader Mr Wayne Beel in his LogiSYM magazine article (July Issue) highlights the significance of the HR learning pathway for employee evolutions and the value of linkages between industry bodies, specialist learning partners and enlightened Human Resource professionals in ensuring successful human capital and business outcomes. Mr Beel is a strong advocate of organizations that understand the benefit of positioning senior Human Resources Executives above the transactional partner model (prescribed by internal and external policy and regulation) to strategic business partners. As strategic collaborators, they would not only fulfill traditional aspects of HR but also actively anticipate organizational leadership needs, lead the alignment of business life cycles and interweave stakeholder requirements and relationships.
The increasing demand for assessment and evaluation tools as part of talent selection and career pathway planning process has led our development of a range of Talent Management Services which we have integrated into our online technology platform. These include Executive Search and Talent Acquisition, Career Transition / Outplacement services, the latest Job Search functions, Online Behavioral Skills Assessments, Psychometric Evaluation and Candidate portal tools. The ability of our clients and candidates to draw on these services and access tools remotely provides a wider flexibility in which to engage these services to meet their requirements. In other words, it empowers them with the latest HR business tools.
Since 2008 Logistics Executive Group has been providing corporate advisory services, our Corporate Advisory platform offers Human Capital, Business Performance and Supply Chain consulting, M&A, Knowledge Centre, Research & Whitepapers, and Organisational and Executive Coaching services. We have designed these tools to offer industry specific experience, based on a commitment to partnering with customers, boosting their transformational journeys in order to drive measurable, sustainable business performance and results.
Increasingly we have seen supply chain ecosystems becoming more complex, and the supply chain function being recognised as the centerpiece of the organisation. According to Mark Millar, “Supply Chain management has become an essential topic across all spheres of management and a strategic agenda item in every boardroom. Today’s supply chains are evolving to reflect the increased complexity of world trade and a volatile, super connected, global environment which is progressively more difficult to predict” (Global Supply Chains. pp.1) Millar continues “Human Capital could be considered the most important topic (of the entire book), as every other aspect of operating a productive supply chain organization equipment, systems, IT, finance, risk management, market and sales, operations, administration and legal, are all dependent on how well staff carry out their tasks” (pp.169)
An organizations’ ability to align its upstream and downstream supply chain in harmony with its customers and markets whilst developing and empowering its leadership team and workforce is what will ultimately drive future organisational success and profitability.