The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic put unprecedented pressure on supply chains, forcing many companies to re-evaluate and recreate their structures and their commercial strategies. At Michael Page, we have worked closely with our clients to ensure that they have the talent necessary to maintain, streamline, and improve their supply chains, as the market continues to change and develop. 

To further investigate the challenges associated with supply chain resilience, Giuseppe Borsellino, Business Director for Supply Chain at Michael Page, recently interviewed Ashley Naughton, Managing Partner for Supply Chain in the UK, Ireland and the Nordics at Tata Consultancy Services. 


Interview with Ashley Naughton, Managing Partner Supply Chain UK, Ireland & Nordics at Tata Consultancy Services

Ashley has over 25 years of experience in global supply chains and experience in influential roles at various companies, including at Aerospace and Automotive. Since joining Tata, he has focused on re-skilling, using his new technology-savvy environment to develop his ‘Digital 4.0’ capabilities, delivering supply chain transformation for his clients. Ashley routinely speaks in an advisory capacity at industry events and contributes to publications, including IDC, Forrester, and The Manufacturer. 

What exactly is supply chain resilience?

“I would not give a standard definition to this question. I think it differs for each organisation: businesses are becoming far more customer-driven and persona-based, and each organisation may therefore have its own set of priorities and needs. 

“That said, I think there are some common themes. Organisations are re-evaluating what is important when it comes to their supply chains. Is it to be as lean as possible, as it has been in the past? Should you aim to carry as little inventory as possible to meet service? Recent events have led many of us to reflect on the importance of securing essential products and services. It is clearer than ever that we need to focus on availability, stability of service, and now sustainability. The interesting part for me is how we achieve this.” 

Where has this focus on supply chain resilience come from?

“The concept of business resilience has been around for decades. Business continuity planning is mostly understood, but for supply chain resilience, it goes further than just reacting to problems. It relies on an ability to predict, to learn and to take automated actions that allow the value chain to self-heal. The emergence of supply chain resilience as a priority is simply an acknowledgement that ‘supply chains matter.’” 

“We have all felt the impact when supply chains become distressed, whether it is a shortage of a product at a supermarket, a late arrival, or an increasingly expensive commodity. If there’s a positive that has come from global issues such as Covid-19, Brexit, and even the recent Suez Canal blockage, it is the increased appreciation of the importance of supply chain issues.”  

Why is supply chain resilience so important? 

“With more technologically developed supply chain resilience, much of the disruption associated with the events I’ve just mentioned could have been predicted. It is better to see a big problem coming and plan accordingly than to react after it has already emerged. This will mean something different for different companies: it could mean carrying more inventory, changing manufacturing locations, or investing in technology to gain better insights through digital platforms and involving the entire supply chain partner community. Ultimately, assurance of supply is the goal.” 

What processes should be put in place to achieve supply chain resilience?

“Technology will drive achievement in this area: AI, cloud, and automation will all be common enablers. There's no one solution. Organisations should, however, focus on their digital strategies. Do they have one? What needs to change in order to deliver transformation? Ultimately the C-Level needs to drive this change across functional domains such as supply chain, HR, IT, operations, and others. My advice would be to form a trusted partnership with an expert who can offer technology services and advice. It's a programme of change, so it needs experience, learnings, and above all organisational empathy.” 

Do you have any case studies or examples?

“There are many case studies I could give. We are working with some of the most prestigious automotive and aerospace clients in the UK right now. As I mentioned earlier about common challenges, I'd suggest that there are common attributes in most of our solutions that help make businesses more adaptative. Connectiveness, collaboration and cognitive capabilities bring immense value to a customer centric, non-linear supply chain and we are working to enable exactly that. It's certainly an exciting time to be in supply chain, as technology changes the traditional role of the supply chain practitioner. I don't see this slowing down - only accelerating.” 

At Michael Page Logistics, we have a wealth of experience in hiring for supply chain roles, and access to a huge pool of high-calibre candidates looking for the right next step in their career. If you are looking for top talent in today’s competitive market, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants.

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