Beyond Disruptions: Building the Next Generation of Resilient Supply Chains

Gain insights into building flexibility, agility, and resiliency in supply chains, featuring a panel with HBR, Beiersdorf, and Coupa.

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Alex Clemente, Managing Director, HBR-AS, Harvard Business Review
Alex Clemente
Managing Director, HBR-AS
Harvard Business Review
Arjun Varma, Director, Strategic Capacity Management, Beiersdorf
Arjun Varma
Director, Strategic Capacity Management
Madhav Durba, Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy, Coupa
Madhav Durba
Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Managing Director Alex Clemente discusses highlights of the recent HBR whitepaper with recommendations on how to  make supply chains more resilient. The panel discussion also includes Arjun Varma, Director of Capacity Management at Beiersdorf, and Madhav Durbha, VP of Supply Strategy at Coupa.

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    Among the topics discussed are:

    • How supply chains are evolving
    • The increase in urgency in supply chains, and the need for faster decisions
    • The best ways for organizations to adapt to these changes
    • How to implement continuous supply chain design
    • How creating a supply chain digital twin can help
    • Recommended changes to organizational culture to respond to the new supply chain environment


    Why is supply chain so important today?

    From Alex Clemente, Managing Director, HBR-AS, Harvard Business Review: "The global supply chain is where the best capabilities of organizational management are tested, and they can be tested by virtually any kind of problem that can happen around the globe. During the pandemic, as we've seen, organizations all had their mettle tested by an unprecedented level of disruption. And in response, they had to be resilient, they had to create more resilient supply and distribution ecosystems. And, as a result, we've seen supply chain go from being a a peripheral area of focus for business organizations to really now one that is central to their business strategy."

    What can organizations do to be better positioned for the new challenges in supply chain management?

    "There is so much riding on supply chains. Organizations are learning the hard lesson that to build resilience in today's environment, they need to improve supply chain flexibility and agility, starting I think with greater visibility into the risks and the vulnerabilities that they faced throughout this far-flung and distributed supply and distribution ecosystem. But it doesn't end with visibility, you also have to get better connected -- and that's better connected internally as well as externally. And to do so really requires greater collaboration between functional areas, and the important ones, of course, are procurement, finance, and supply chain. And then you have to find the right balance between both resiliency and efficiency, and that's an important challenge that every organization will have to resolve for themselves.

    What are the top concerns of supply chain professionals in recent days, and how has the pandemic changed the way companies view their supply chains?

    Supply chains were built on the model of efficiencies for the longest time. It was always about cost-savings and inventory tradeoffs. Now increasingly, there is a focus on sustainability, ensuring product availability, and retaining talent.

    The pandemic exposed the single points of failure within our supply chains. And if you layer that on top of the inflationary environment we are living in, as well as the geopolitical conflict that is going on in the world, it really makes the job of supply chain leaders very tricky.

    I do see some good coming out of this. One is that organizations are accelerating their digital journey and digital transformation. The second thing is this notion of building optionality into the supply chains: whether it is in terms of having multiple options in terms of the sources of supply, having multiple options in terms of modes of transportation, and an increase in optionality for how you flow the product to the market. And last, but not least, there is an increased focus on the human talent and retaining that talent, as well as a greater acknowledgement of the talent of supply chain professionals.