Future Leaders Take Note!

Here’s some food for thought for those you of reading this who are at the early or mid stage of your career and have aspirations to become a senior executive within the Supply Chain & Logistics sector in the future.

If all goes to plan then in few years time you will be leaders in the Global Supply Chain holding a position such as CEO, Director, VP and possibly with Global, Regional or Country wide responsibilities.

Whether that’s working in Aviation, Shipping, Contract Logistics, or indeed managing Supply Chain functions in Retail, Manufacturing or Distribution etc (the list goes on) there is going to be one common factor which will be a priority for you all… you are going to need people.

The current Supply Chain and Logistics industry leaders are already struggling to bring fresh talent into the sector and this is an issue around the world. The fact that its a global problem was further reinforced to me over the last two weeks as I attended two separate conferences in Asia and Europe. The week before last I was at the Logisym Supply Chain conference in Singapore and just last week the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Berlin.

It was the first time in a very long time that I have attended any Supply Chain & Logistics related events outside of the Middle East yet the same issues around attracting and retaining people in the sector that are discussed regularly across the MEA Region also featured heavily at both of these events. I am sure if I went to similar events in North or South America I would hear exactly the same.

As you are reading this you might well be wondering why I am specifically addressing people in their early or mid-career stage, surely I should be aiming this towards the  current leaders, not the future leaders?

Well here’s the reason.

When you become the next CEO or Global Supply Chain Director you are going to need a ready supply of people just as todays leaders need this right now. The difference is the current leaders have left it far too late and now we are constantly talking about how to make the sector more attractive as there is a huge shortage of new blood.

Those discussions should have already been happening years ago, the current situation is that we are struggling to attract talent to the Supply Chain today but for those of you in your early or mid careers it’s a perfect time too start talking up the sector and getting fresh talent interested because you are going to need those people when its your turn in the driving seat.

In short its essential that you start getting used to being an ambassador for the Supply Chain sector right now! Do everything in your power to gain the interest of school leavers, fresh graduates, and  also anyone else you can think of who may be open to a career change because these people are going to be your talent pool in years to come.

SC brand

Everyone complains about the challenges in finding new people for the sector right now and its a real problem, but lets face it we have all dropped the ball in the past.

Lets not make the same mistake again as there’s no time like the present to give a boost to the Supply Chain & Logistics brand!

Heres a great Chinese proverb which sums this up perfectly.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”


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The People Supply Chain Top 10’s “Top tips for personal LinkedIn leverage!”

However you intend to use LinkedIn its guaranteed that you are going to benefit from increasing the visibility and quality of your profile!

Get noticed

Here are “The People Supply Chain’s” top ten tips for you to get the most out of the world’s largest professional networking site in order to improve your personal profile and stand out from the crowd!

  1. Keep your profile upto date!
  1. Be clear on how you want to be seen by others

Build your personal brand! Take time to write a personal yet professional profile summary that makes it clear who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.

  1. Ensure your career history on LinkedIn matches your CV (Everybody checks!)
  1. But… don’t just use LinkedIn whenever you need a new job!

Make it a part of your daily routine to regularly; Like, Comment and Share Information and Articles, LinkedIn Pulse is a great resource for posting your own articles as it has a wide reach and also makes it easy for other users to interact with you and share your posts. Regular posts, likes and shares will ensure your profile stays ahead of the crowd and remains visible to others, and if you did happen to be on the look out for a move then staying high profile may ensure that new job will find you…!

  1. Use it for research and professional development

Read articles, soak up knowledge and generally aim to stay abreast of what’s happening in your industry. If you work in a commercial role use it to identify key decision makers, organizations and industry groups.

  1. Use a professional photo

No selfie’s or party shots! But do ensure your photo fits with your profile in terms of how you wish to portray yourself.

  1. Complete as many of the individual sections under the profile editor as possible

A complete profile will show up in far more searches than an incomplete one making you more visible! (Dropping in a few keywords is a big help!)

  1. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and contribute to them as often as possible!

Think visibility! You are growing your personal brand and positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.

  1. Continuously work on growing your network of contacts

Focus on quality not quantity, try to ensure that the majority of connections could be deemed as beneficial to you from a professional point of view for example potential business partners, employers, colleagues, customers. (even if they are on the other side of the world it doesn’t matter if they are useful / relevant contacts). Think six degrees of separation!

  1. Upload Multimedia to your profile

Add Powerpoint Presentations, Links to video’s or articles and websites. Think of it as your personal portfolio, its your page and your big chance to showcase your talents!

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Out with the old and in with the… “Who?”

There are tons of highly qualified and experienced Supply Chain & Logistics professionals ready to work for your business immediately.

Yep that’s right, there’s not really a skills shortage, in fact there is an abundance of amazingly qualified and experienced people ready to join your organization today.

These very same people also bring vast networks and business relationships and can not only develop and improve your operations based on their first hand experience but its likely they could also bring new business.

Oh, and that’s all in addition to training their own successor!

Supply Chain solutions experts and Professional Logisticians, Project Logistics experts, Supply Chain Management and Optimization experts, Procurement, S&OP, Demand Management experts… the list goes on and on…

Sounds too good to be true right?

Well these are facts, and the unfortunate truth in this politically correct world in which we live is that whether anyone is prepared to admit it or not there is an entire under utilized Supply Chain work force of senior professionals who often aren’t being given the opportunity to continue working, yet aren’t even close to thinking of stopping work. Add to this that there are only a very limited number of people from the younger generations who could take their place and we have a significant problem.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the more mature experienced people would command only the very highest levels of salary and benefits, but in my experience from a cost to company perspective that is often just not the case, many of these people have minimal overheads and no dependents and therefore don’t necessarily have the need for a package with all of the bells and whistles included. Don’t get me wrong they know the value of their experience and qualifications and would expect fair compensation for their efforts, but it’s a fair yet realistic compensation which they expect.

Of course in the developed countries Anti-Ageism or Age Discrimination laws prevent companies from not employing the more mature workers… right?

So obviously there are no issues there because anyone at any age has an equal chance… Hmmm.

I mean no one was ever rejected from getting a job because of their age were they?

I would bet there are plenty of examples of more senior or dare I say it older applicants who have been told in the past that they just didn’t… somehow… fit the profile of a job they had applied for yet they have worked in the very same type of job for their whole career.

Anyway my point here is not to argue the politics it’s more about encouraging the leaders of organizations to seriously consider how utilizing the skills of older generations could benefit their business whilst we still have the chance.

Bear in mind when these people are completely gone we cannot replace their years of knowledge and experience which translates to major problems in a global supply chain, and that’s a looming disaster!

The skills shortages do exist in the mid age range and below but this will never improve if we don’t get a move on and start training and developing more young professionals whilst keeping in mind that the older generations which should be heavily involved in passing on knowledge are those who are often being asked to sit on the side lines.

We need to stop the brain drain immediately and start utilizing the skills and experience of the experts in order to properly train the next generations of Supply Chain & Logistics professionals.

Brain Drain.jpg

If someone is ready to put in another 3-5 years before they finally wish to consider finishing work then surely that’s plenty of time for them to join a business, take a future successor under their wing and show them the ropes whilst imparting valuable knowledge.

Give it a shot and you might find your business advancing far faster and more efficiently than it ever has before.

There are no substitutes for vast networks and experience!


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The People Supply Chain Top 10’s “Digital Supply Chain Media”

This is a recommendation of my top 10 favourite sources of online media which have a Supply Chain focus, my selection is based on the regularity of content updates, the quality of the content itself and of course my personal opinion.

This list is not in any particular order its just my 10 favourites, they are all number one in my opinion! : )

These are a mix of blogs and websites operated by various individuals and SME’s to multinational organisations… all are committed to raising the profile and improving the development of the global Supply Chain!

Feel free to add links any others that you recommend in the comments below.

Global Logistics Media – A favourite of mine when it comes to finding global Supply Chain content mainly due to its regular updates and wide range of media from photos to videos to blog links, exclusive interviews, and the various articles from its regular contributors who come from the industry. www.globallogisticsmedia.com

Logistics Voices – A dynamic source of Supply Chain content, these guys are also the social media guru’s for the Supply Chain sector with great content and great ideas, its what the industry has needed for a very long time! They will even manage your own organisations ongoing social media activity for a small fee! www.logisticsvoices.co.uk

Supply Chain Digital – I highly recommend this site, there is always lots of great stuff to read in this digital publication which includes an interactive website and magazine. Especially interesting is their regular top 10’s feature which has been running since 2011 www.supplychaindigital.com

Southern Cal Supply Chain – One of my favourite word press blogs as it always has a good mix of relevant information with many interesting posts and articles which are updated regularly, this includes their own content as well as many shared posts from other bloggers www.southerncalsupplychain.wordpress.com

Supply Chain ROSCO – An excellent Supply Chain focused blog with some brilliant insights and its also highly entertaining! if you are wondering who or what a Supply Chain ROSCO is you will just have to click the link! www.supplychainrosco.wordpress.com

Supply Chain 24/7 – A dedicated supply chain website which regularly shares interesting content but its also an ideal source for industry reports, case studies, white papers and research http://www.supplychain247.com

Arabian Supply Chain – I would go as far as to say this is one of the leading websites to look at for Supply Chain news and developments in the Middle East, definitely check it out if you haven’t already! www.arabiansupplychain.com

Warehousing & Logistics International – One of my favourite UK based sites, this is the official website and also magazine of the International Federation of Warehousing & Logistics Associations (IFWLA) the website has fresh content which is updated regularly and also allows you to download PDF versions of previous magazine issues free of charge www.warehousinglogisticsinternational.com

Supply Chain YOU – The ultimate place to go for weekly news and views from the global supply chain, the newsletter is free to subscribe to and features top articles and stories gathered from digital media around the globe, all put together in one easy to read format online or even delivered to your inbox saving you all of the trouble and the time that you would have spent finding it yourself. www.SupplyChainYOU.com

Logistics Executive Group’s “Knowledge Centre” – The knowledge centre was launched in 2015 and has a wide array of information available from its regular CEO newsletter series, to its own media and article’s library, industry white papers and research materials as well as links to acknowledged subscription based services which include the Transport Intelligence Portals, and the daily Supply Chain brief news feed. http://www.logisticsexecutive.com/knowledge-centre/

I hope you found this list of my personal favourites interesting!

online supply chain media

I would highly recommend exploring all of these links whenever you get a chance, although I must finally admit I am a little biased when it comes to the last two… ; )

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Talent Tracking & Traceability

Real time data capture and analysis is a key factor in managing an efficient Supply Chain and making continuous improvements.

Could more organisations benefit from applying similar principles to their People Supply Chain when it comes to recruiting?

Many organisations have systems in place to track lead times from identification of a vacancy through to onboarding, number of applicants, sources of candidates etc. This is useful if you want to speed up the internal recruitment process or identify choke points, but aside from that this information is very limited, especially considering that you will have invested a lot of time in the hiring process and are missing key information which will help with future decision making and ultimately business growth.

With the right systems and processes in place for capturing better data you could place your organization many steps ahead of the competition when it comes to winning the talent war.

Here’s The People Supply Chain list of useful data to track, capture, and analyse for your organisations future hiring benefit!


Candidate Hotspots

Where in the world are the majority of suitably qualified potential candidates based for the specific role you are trying to hire for.

Generating a birds-eye view of which locations in the world are home to the people with the skills you require will save copious amounts of time (and money) on future searches for similar roles.

Applications Vs Approaches

Where did each candidate come from and how many applied themselves directly versus those who were actively approached?

This is great data in order to see how proactive you were at finding people.

It’s also useful to see just how many people want to work for your organization in the advertised role and where they are coming from. Maybe potential applicants have a better impression of your organization in some countries than they do in others, or your organization is more visible in certain markets.

Skills Gaps & Diversity

We live and work in a world where skills gaps are everywhere and we are constantly losing vast amounts of skills and experience across many industries as the older generation retires from the workplace without enough sufficiently qualified people to take their place. By monitoring certain demographics throughout a hiring process organization’s can track potential skills gaps amongst various groups of people for specific functions with the benefit of being able to predict future skills gaps and provide training and development opportunities where necessary.

Industry Verticals

Which industries are the people with the skills you require mainly coming from?Depending on the function this could be limited to just a few verticals or it could be vast… either way this is essential knowledge for future targeted hiring!

Reasons Why Candidates Declined.

Why weren’t people interested in the job when approached? Perhaps the package is below the market rate, perhaps your expectations of skills and experience are too high, perhaps the location isn’t appealing enough or perhaps your employer brand needs improving?

The list goes on, but the point is that if you know the core factors you can work on making changes for the future.

Reasons for Rejection

It’s very important to know why your organization rejected certain applicants, (I am talking about the applicants who had close enough experience to make it through to the later stages of the hiring process, not the hundreds of people who applied but didn’t pass the initial CV screening)  it could be as simple as they lacked specific key skills and experience… but if that applies to the vast majority of candidates then it’s a good indicator that you really are asking for too much in a person.

Perhaps the person with ALL of the skills and experience that you are looking for simply doesn’t exist!

I recently learnt an excellent German expression that sums this up perfectly…

“Eierlegende Wollmilchsau”

Google it, or ask a German colleague!

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The People Supply Chain Top 10’s “Networking Tips”

The majority of people are not natural networkers and many simply lack the confidence to put themselves in a networking environment, so where do you start and how can you get the most out of business networking or even just gain more confidence when attending networking events?

There are many online resources and their is lots of advice available with hints and tips on how to network, you should definitely take the time to read up as much information as possible but remember ultimately at some point you will just need to throw yourself in at the deep end as the best experience will come from getting out there and doing it for real!

I have been attending, supporting, and leading networking events for years now but I don’t believe I was a natural when I started, I just got better at it by ensuring that I was regularly attending as many events as possible and as a result I believe I have done enough networking and have been successful enough to be able to share some of my advice and experience with others.

If my advice helps just one or two people to improve their networking skills or encourages them to get out there and network more then it’s been a success in my view!

Here are my top 10 tips and advice for business networking.

  1. The cardinal rule – always be genuine, effective business networks work on trust so be yourself.
  1. Pay it forward – Don’t just think what can others do for me? Think instead what support you can offer to others, your efforts will be rewarded at some point as it will come full circle one day!
  1. Be clear on what you want to achieve – Why do you want the new contacts? Is it about learning or sharing challenges and issues? Do you just want to stay on top of what’s happening in your market? Is it more about keeping up to speed on regulatory changes etc? It could be all of these or simply that you want to spend time with like minded people who go through the same day to day ups and downs and face the same business challenges as you.
  1. Network in the right places – Once you know what you want to achieve you can think about which types of networking events you would likely get the most benefit from, do your research!
  1. Understand that every group of people and event is different – Bear in mind that the dynamics of networking events and groups of people can be drastically different even in the same industries so try out various events until you find the right group of people for you.
  1. Stay connected after the events – Use your calendar to to set reminder alerts ensuring you keep in touch with the people who you meet where there is mutual value to be gained from the relationship.
  1. Don’t just wait for the next formal event – Aim to catch up in person with people between events for one on one discussions (coffee, breakfast or lunch always works well).
  1. Never sell to, or pressure people – There is nothing worse than going to a networking event to be bombarded by someone looking for commitment right there and then for some kind of product or service.
  1. Be professional – Represent yourself and your business appropriately at all times, its business networking after all and even if the environment at some events may appear quite casual bear in mind that everyone is ultimately there for business purposes.
  1. Be honest and consistent – If your networking efforts are honorable and regular you will ultimately create an ever expanding circle of trusted professional contacts who become your business referral network as well as your support network (See number 1. The cardinal rule).

Networking tips

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The Networked Supply Chain Professional

Ensuring you remain well networked within the People Supply Chain is key to success for many Supply Chain professionals.

Networking experience and ability should be a no brainer for people in commercial management roles, but what if your whole career to date has been focused on operational management functions in the Supply Chain and you haven’t been making a conscious effort to build your business networks.

The truth is that if you are a Supply Chain professional with a pure operational focus you are probably already an excellent relationship builder and networker as your working week will involve dealing with many stakeholders both internal and external, including people from Government entities to MNC’s, local organizations and SME’s.

You will have been regularly building working relationships as well as influencing, supporting, and also challenging people in order to keep your part of the Supply Chain running smoothly.

I am willing to bet that when a Supply Chain professional has made significant improvements to an organisations Supply Chain it has been largely due to their ability to foster relationships and positively influence people from all walks of life.

Facts, figures, and overall analysis provide the visibility to know what needs to be changed or what can be improved but the only way to successfully implement these things is by winning over the people.

If you take the Supply Chain on a local, regional or even a global level I don’t think we see enough operational Supply Chain professionals actively networking with their counter parts in other organizations including those from their competitors in order to understand if they are sharing the same challenges or can support one another to run more efficient Supply Chains.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Supply Chain focused events and conferences going on constantly around the world where SC professionals get together and briefly network during the breaks between presentations and panel discussions, there are also plenty of steering committees and industry bodies which promise to champion the cause of Supply Chain (Only a few manage to do this effectively).

That’s all good, but my big question is this…

How many people in operational Supply Chain management functions make a point of getting together with their counterparts in other organizations on a fairly regular basis just to catch up for a coffee or a bite to eat and chat about the Supply Chain in general?

For the cost of a drink and some of your time I am sure there will be good advice to share and you might also highlight some  challenges which could be overcome through sharing experiences or taking action together.

The more networked Supply Chain professionals we have in the sector the better, and with enough people having these kinds of meetings a bigger picture outcome could well be improvement of global supply chain efficiencies and standards in the future!

So if you aren’t already an avid networker then please don’t just wait for the formal industry conferences and events, I would suggest being proactive and reaching out to some of your counterparts with the aim of getting together for a chat once in a while, if nothing else I am sure you will be able to share some useful information about the market!

The Supply Chain only works because of the people involved!

Networked People

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A breath of fresh air.

Some of you will have read an article I wrote a long time back discussing whether the office environment had a big part to play in an organizations ability to attract, engage and retain employee’s. Today I have had another thought about office environment which I want to share but please bear with me as this is a bit off the wall (you can find my original article here by the way > http://www.globallogisticsmedia.com/articles/view/the-future-is-now).

I have a team of A/C sanitizers at my house today deep cleaning all of the ducts because a dirty A/C system is a major health concern. Dirty ducts =  breeding ground for mold and bacteria  = increased chance of sickness (viruses – flu / colds… or worse etc etc) =  time off work…. which I could do without right now with so many conferences and exhibitions to attend over the next few weeks, and that’s exactly why this is relevant to “The People Supply Chain”  

Imagine an organization which (as part of positioning their brand as an employer of choice) cares about their employees enough that they go one step further than just improving the look and feel of their office’s.

Have you ever seen an employer shouting about the air quality in their offices?

“Join XXXXXX LTD we guarantee you will breathe the cleanest air throughout your working day” (I am talking about white collar offices in countries where A/C is required of course)

I say this tongue in cheek as it probably sounds a bit daft on the face of it but actually there cant be many more things which are important to a person than the quality of the air they breathe, and lets not forget a major key to success in winning the war for talent is about positively differentiating your organization from your competitors in any possible way you can think of.

Maybe I have just been sold on the importance of proper A/C sanitization, but I am not taking any chances and neither should you.

Whose responsibility should this really be in an organization? QHSSE, Facilities Mgr, GM, Directors…HR?

Just as a holistic approach was taken with Supply Chain management the same holistic approach must be applied to “The People Supply Chain” as things like this affect everyone. My A/C duct cleaning example is just a drop in the ocean when you consider all possible areas of an organization which directly or indirectly affect employees

I think it’s apt that i finish with A/C in mind, so here’s my final thought….

“Protect your workforce, become an even more attractive employer, reduce sickness, and stay productive…. clean those dirty ducts!”


Click HERE for some light viewing about why you should sanitize your A/C for those of you who are interested ; )


PS: this is just an observation its not intended as a sales pitch… (although it would have been a very good one!)

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WANTED: Supply Chain Superstars & HR Hero’s

It’s not that long ago when the job of a Supply Chain Manager was largely unknown as the collective function responsible for management of many key activities involved in bringing a product to market.

In the past organizations had an often disjointed mix of Warehousing, Transport, Procurement, Planning, Operations etc with each seen as a specific stand-alone function and in some cases reporting to very different departments or managers. This was the norm until a more holistic approach to Supply Chain eventually became the trend.

One of the best things to have happened for Supply Chain in recent years was arguably the beginning of the global financial crisis when organizations had no choice but look inwardly at cost saving initiatives without causing too much disruption to their business in general.

The Supply Chain Superstars were born…

Once organizations adopted this approach and put in place their Supply Chain leaders they were soon presented with a high level view of all “Supply Chain” activities bringing (in some cases) immediate cost savings and efficiency improvements whilst highlighting other areas where further cost savings and efficiency improvements could be made given more time and focus.

Now seen as one of the most important strategic business functions any company could have, Supply Chain finally took its rightful place in the boardroom, and we haven’t looked back!

A Supply Chain supported by clever software systems and automation, as well as practices and methodology such as Kaizen, and Lean 6 Sigma etc won’t work though unless the combined efforts of all the people involved in the chain actually make it work.

Back we go to “The People Supply Chain” this is where the HR Hero’s come in!


When all of the above can only be driven by people why do we still see many companies with their HR departments purely viewed as an admin function, we see more and more HR business partner titles but are those HR professionals really being brought in as strategic partners to the business, or are they just paper shufflers?

Are they involved in shaping the strategic and operational focus of the company? Are the HR processes, procedures and the overall talent management strategy aligned with the company’s overall vision and strategy.

Has that other empty seat in the boardroom been filled by a Chief HR Officer yet?

Leading organizations have developed all-encompassing talent management strategies which provide support and development throughout the whole employment life cycle of its employees whilst aligning perfectly with the strategic direction of the company.

The era of the CHRO’s and the CSCO’s is upon us!

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Urgent & essential job vacancy! (It’s been open for at least one year)

Here’s an interesting question…do you employ people for jobs or do you build your jobs around each individual you employ?

Where do you draw the line?

I have regular discussions with business owners, senior decision makers and hiring managers who are looking for people to “tick all the boxes” for vacant posts as per very specific (non negotiable) job descriptions and as a result of this they haven’t employed anyone at all and usually tend to have their vacant positions open for months on end.

Imagine having a key position vacant for the past year which is (in a very significant way) going to be impacting the rest of your team, your business, your clients and ultimately revenue and market position.

In the current business climate the majority of the people and the companies which are succeeding are those which continue to be flexible, those which are constantly adapting and innovating in order to keep making money.

The good news is that more and more companies are taking an increasingly pragmatic approach to the job fit vs candidate fit by regularly adapting role profiles.

When they  meet people who they really want in their business they adapt, innovate and simply put…. find a way to make it work!


I would bet that these companies are amongst the leaders in their field.

If they are applying similar principles to the rest of their business its a pretty safe bet in my view.

If you are hiring and have had an open vacancy for a long time yet still cant find the right person then maybe the person with the skills and experience you want simply doesn’t exist or if they do then maybe your business just isn’t an attractive enough option for them to want to join?

There’s actually a good chance you have already met the ideal person for the business need, maybe you just need to find a way to make it work.

Taking a more open and flexible approach and being prepared to build a role around a person enables an organization to utilize more of each employees strengths rather than just the specific skills / experience required for a pre-set role.

The company stands to gain a higher return on investment for each person they employ and as long as the employee is receiving fair compensation for an expanded role they are normally happier as well.

The world has changed, ticking boxes is not enough.

Don’t restrict your business by looking for the obvious or by doing things a certain way just because that’s the way you have always done things.

Be open to new ideas…. be entrepreneurial!

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