You can’t find the right talent. Can you create it?

Some important take aways from my recent meetings and calls with senior executives at some of the leading 3pls in the Middle East relating to commercial activity and talent.

1. Many of them are finding it challenging to identify and hire sales professionals with enough in-depth overall supply chain knowledge and experience who can create and sell end to end supply chain solutions to their clients.

2. A lot of 3pls are struggling to find suitable freight sales professionals with a good enough track record of being able to back themselves and consistently bring the revenues for freight sales in the region

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The first point about supply chain solutions is an ongoing challenge for everyone as many of the people with the level of operational supply chain experience that’s needed don’t have the sales experience or know how (a major skill in itself!) that’s needed to be able successfully sell SC solutions to end users (as they are coming from more operational backgrounds and simply haven’t been exposed to sales).

Those that have the sales ability and experience are commanding very high salaries as they have usually already reached to a senior management level leading the supply chain function for companies in their career to-date (those are the people you need if you could afford them!)

With regards to the second point about freight sales I asked some of the employers what’s more important, the ability to sell and having a proven track record of sales?

Or having the knowledge of freight forwarding?

Most answered that’s it’s easier to teach someone about freight forwarding, the hardest part is having the sales ability in the first place !

So what are the possible solutions?

To get suitable supply chain professionals onboard from client side to logistics service provider then in my view its either a case of upping the budgets for salaries to get the senior people (which is probably not an option in the current market for most 3pls) or alternatively start creating dedicated screening, on boarding and training programs that run on an ongoing basis to first identify potential sales ability amongst mid career supply chain professionals and then ensure they have the tools and ongoing support they need to be successful.

Their are many mid career SC professionals in the market currently who are looking for a move, I am sure a few of them would make excellent SC solutions sellers!

In other words start building talent pools / talent communities and taking a proactive approach to “develop” talent for these types of roles.

For the more transactional high volume / high activity driven sales functions perhaps it’s time to look for experienced sales professionals from other sectors and teach them about the Logistics industry?

Is anyone else experiencing similar challenges, do you agree or disagree?

For my contacts outside the Middle East is this a similar story in your regions?

Any other thoughts or ideas to share?

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

[List Updated 31/01/2019] 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.

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

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

Material Handling & Logistics News – A favourite of mine when it comes to finding global Supply Chain content mainly due to its regular updates and wide range of SC&L focused content  www.mhlnews.com

Supply Chain Management Review – Regularly updated Supply Chain content, covering right across the supply chain with featured topics from Procurement and Sourcing, to Finance, Technology, 3PL, Education and Events to name but a few https://www.scmr.com/

Global Supply Chain Magazine – Long running Supply Chain magazine with digital editions (One of the leading Supply Chain publications for the MEA region) containing excellent in-depth monthly updates, news and insights with a main focus on the Middle East, copies of the digital edition of the magazine are available to read via the website http://globalsupplychainme.com/

Logistics News Middle East – This is also one of the leading websites to look at for Logistics & Supply Chain news and developments in the Middle East, definitely check it out if you haven’t already!www.logisticsmiddleeast.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

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 Brain – A highly comprehensive source of Supply Chain news from around the globe, packed full features covering all aspect of the global Supply Chain. Don’t forget to check out their podcast! https://www.supplychainbrain.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

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 one… ; )


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I’m giving you a blank cheque!

There’s a story behind this one, so bear with me…

A couple of years ago a business partner and I we’re running a workshop in Doha for IATA’s world cargo symposium which was attended by an audience of  “future air cargo executives” the next generation of leaders.

Some of the worlds most important people in air cargo were sitting in the room that day as these are the people who are going to be running the sector in the years to come.

In order to deliver the workshop so it would be best received by this particular generation (See Education… Aligned.) we decided to run a forum using snap polls (a simple show of hands), encouraging some lively discussion along the way.

After debating a range of topics we eventually came to the subject of continuing education and personal development.

We asked for people to raise their hands if they had worked towards a formal degree qualification over the past 12 months.

About half the room shot their hands up.

We then asked who had taken part in any soft skills training in the last 12 months…  just two or three hands popped up.

Ok… so its evident (for whatever reason) that soft skills weren’t at the top of the training agenda.

We were now warming up to the killer question.

“If we gave you a blank cheque that you can use to pay for either a degree course or soft skills training… which would you choose?”.

$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$
$$$ Degree or Soft Skills? $$$

Silence… for a few minutes, then discussion backwards and forwards, the room is divided… and with a final show of hands its a 50/50 split (I guess if you were personally very aware of a soft skill area where you would like to improve then you would be one of the soft skills choosers).

Their was clearly a demand for soft skills training in the room which hadn’t been identified by their employers (remember only 2-3 people had raised their hands earlier).

So is it more important to pay for the degree or better to fine tune your soft skills?

Well if you want to be leading people and growing a business and if you are going to be one of the future senior executives in an industry then you are definitely going to benefit from having highly mastered soft skills.

Ah but hang on though, will you ever get those opportunities without the degree? Could you handle a senior executive post without the hard skills gained whilst getting a degree?

Would qualification by experience also be enough instead of a degree?

There is no real right or wrong answer here as too many different factors are involved, but I would add that in a challenging jobs market you need to have as many strings to your bow as possible to give you the edge on your competition.

If you have the means and ability to get a degree then you should do it…. but also keep on honing those soft skills!

Education… Aligned.

Advances in technology and workplace culture and environment are changing faster than ever before.

Education needs to be better aligned to suit each generation, and this comes down to understanding what makes each generation tick.

The gap in experience between generations is vast and we cannot afford to lose the skills and experience of the mature and experienced professionals or we are facing disaster. With this in mind each generation must be provided for in a flexible way which appeals to their differing learning styles.

The Gen-Y’s (Millennials) should be accommodated  for with their technological and flexibility requirements with online & apps based training, brainstorming, group workshops etc.

For the baby boomers and previous generations classroom based learning may prove more effective.

In my opinion, we must understand that today’s workplace has people working together with vastly differing age ranges, values and experience. One solution which is slowly being adopted by a growing number of organizations is training on generational awareness in order to create a better understanding and more effective internal communication. It’s time to get savvy and adopt technology, build creative brand energy, and be open to new ideas.


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