What’s Inspiring Supply Chain Leaders Now

Stephanie Buck
Stephanie Buck
Content Marketing & Storytelling Manager, Coupa

Stephanie is passionate about storytelling and helping leaders, businesses, and organizations transform the way they connect with their customers, prospects, and others. At Coupa, she leads storytelling and content production efforts for supply chain. She brings over a decade of experience supporting marketing and communications with impact-oriented enterprises and mission-driven organizations. She earned her Master's degree from the London School of Economics and her Bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University. She grew up in the Chicago area, but currently calls Washington, D.C. home.

Read time: 4 mins
What’s Inspiring Supply Chain Leaders Now

“People thought supply chains were like electricity: they just run! True. Until the power runs out. And the power did run out!” The crowd laughed as Madhav Durbha, Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy at Coupa, addressed a full room. These supply chain professionals were ready with insightful questions, listening ears, and engaging enthusiasm at Coupa’s Inspire Americas 2022 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

More than 2,200 leaders from supply chain, procurement, finance, and IT came together for this event to discuss solutions to today’s fast-moving supply chain challenges, learn from and with each other, and gain practical insights to start optimizing their supply chains now. If you wished you could have attended, there’s still time to join us in Berlin for Coupa Inspire EMEA from 16-18 May! Learn more

If you couldn’t attend, here are some key takeaways and themes that are inspiring today’s supply chain leaders: 

Supply chain resilience and sustainability are core business differentiators 

Supply chain leaders see resilient and sustainable supply chains as essential to meeting changing customer demand, providing value to key stakeholders, and optimizing their supply chains. Participants discussed how not including an ESG focus can pose a risk to the brand and can reduce the effectiveness and value of supply chains. But ESG can also help businesses stand out. 

So where do leaders start to build resilient supply chains that can withstand disruption while meeting key sustainability goals? 

Cassie Wang and Jonathan Allen from Microsoft spoke about the importance of data and incorporating carbon emissions as a core metric. Good data helps them make fact-based decisions so they can reduce their carbon footprint while ensuring profitability. For example, by shifting from wood shipping pallets to pallets made of alternative materials, they significantly reduced shipping costs and carbon emissions. Learn more and watch an interview with Cassie and John here1, where they also talk about how digital technologies helped them navigate pandemic-related disruptions. 

Digital supply chain design technology is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have 

Before COVID-19, most supply chain decision makers could make assumptions based on their supply chain design outcomes that would last them about a year. Supply chain design projects happened on an annual basis, and sometimes less than that. But all participants in the supply chain breakout sessions agreed: the world is changing at a faster pace than ever before, and the only way supply chains can avoid the worst damages from continuous disruption is by embracing digital tools and engaging in ongoing, continuous supply chain design. 

Several Coupa customers shared their stories of moving from ad-hoc design efforts to a streamlined, digital, democratized approach. They spoke about moving from a reactionary position to a proactive one that allows them to seize opportunities and turn around scenarios faster, all of which has saved them time and money. 

“Coupa makes it easy for us to make the most out of our global supply chain optimization plans,” Robert Wang, Principal Supply Chain Optimization, Nestle USA said. “[The] app we developed using Coupa’s App Studio allows us to run specific scenarios outside of our analytical group. It expands our user capability.”

The future of supply chains is collaborative, dynamic, eclectic, and integrated 

Another theme that emerged was that, to build resilient supply chains, we need platforms that can support collaborative networks, that embrace artificial intelligence, and that improve supplier value management. To support this goal, sourcing, procurement, and supply chain must work together. In addition, companies must create dynamic teams, nurture talent where it exists, and develop it where it could exist. 

A key to making supply chains resilient and agile is shortening the time from question to answer and to address multiple strategic areas in your supply chain in parallel, as Nick Banich of Miebach Consulting2, a Coupa partner, said. Other participants from companies like Cisco Systems, Grupo Bimbo, and Ipiranga all noted that working across business teams, creating executive buy-in, breaking down silos, and sharing good data, are all important to building and sustaining supply chains now and in the future. 

What’s next? 

Join Coupa in Berlin from 16-18 May for Inspire EMEA! Make meaningful connections and get the insights, inspiration, and product knowledge you need to make your supply chains even more resilient, sustainable, agile, and dynamic.


1Microsoft uses data to overcome COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, Victor Dabrinze, SiliconANGLE Media Inc., 07 Apr 2022.

2Miebach and Coupa partner to digitize continuous supply chain, Amy Roberts, SiliconANGLE Media Inc., 07 Apr 2022.