Last week, this supply chain industry analyst attended the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) 2016 annual conference held in Indianapolis. This is the conference where global purchasing and supply management professionals from large and smaller organizations alike gather for added learning, education and insights related to supply management and in particular, its role in contributing to required business outcomes.

Readers can view ISM 2016 conference highlights in our prior Part One and Part Two postings.

During our second day at the conference, this author had the opportunity to participate in a press conference and hear from five of this year’s 30 Under30 Rising Supply Chain Stars, a program introduced by ISM and ThomasNet last year.  In previous postings, we have shined a light on this program along with its designees.

During the special press event, ISM CEO Tom Derry indicated that the organization could not be more pleased with the success and visibility has garnered among the purchasing and supply management community. Representatives from program co-sponsor ThomasNet expressed similar equal praise for the ongoing visibility of this program. With an average age of 27 and delivering more than $10 million in cost savings from just a single individual, this year’s recipients span industry settings ranging from manufacturing to education, medical devices, IT and government.

During the interactive press conference, the panel of five recipients who attended the conference indicated that their generation is less concerned with an 8 to 5 work week structure favoring more a flex time schedule that allows for required family and personal time.  I asked the panel whether mentorship from an older or experienced generation was considered important. The response was that this is absolutely essential, but clarified as to sponsorship rather than mentorship. Having a sponsor to be able to bounce ideas or ask open questions was noted as very essential to their current accomplishments in their roles. They further described themselves as a generation without borders, not encumbered by organizational barriers.

On the topic of technology, the panel indicated that often, their biggest challenge is access to data, particularly involving resident ERP systems that are “older than me.” They articulated that timely information is needed to make informed decisions, that current information cycles are far faster requiring more timely data and information which is often frustrating to find.  The panel further indicated that their generation prefers knowledge on-demand, utilizing micro-learning and E-learning on the fly to gain knowledge of unfamiliar processes or product areas.  They therefore seek and expect an environment that provides such forms of knowledge management tools.

We continue to be impressed and blown-away with the scope of responsibilities being managed by these Millennials.  Job responsibilities of all 30 of this year’s designees include roles as Contract Administrators, Managers, Program Managers, Buyer and Senior Buyer, Sourcing Managers, Team Leads, Improvement Leader, Category Analyst, Logistics Support Supervisor or Director, Global Change Management Lead, or Director of U.S. Operations among others.

Readers can gain an overview of all of this year’s 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars by clicking on this dedicated program web site.

 

This Editor had the opportunity to once again conduct an interview with ISM CEO Tom Derry. Our conversation touched on a number of today’s burning topics for supply management professionals. Derry noted that the procurement role has indeed become more strategic to businesses and ISM continues to work on continuous learning and training programs that include more strategic business and broader supply chain management competencies.

He reiterated the announcement at this year’s conference, of the ISM launch of an online learning initiative termed eISM, a program designed to support the increasingly busy lifestyles of today’s procurement professionals. The offering features a number of distinct learning options, varying from self-led learning modules to guided learning sessions with instructors, fostering more convenient learning in a way best suited to personal learning style.

From a broader skills perspective, our interview included the need for added competencies in driving environmental and social supply chain sustainability efforts and we both touched upon efforts shared by PepsiCo, Fed Ex and others at this year’s sessions.

We discussed this year’s J. Shipman Award winner, Tim Fiore, one of the most prestigious ISM recognition awards for procurement. This year’s recipient provides an example of a role model beyond cost savings, which Derry believes is becoming more desired across various industry settings. He reiterated that Mr. Fiore holds two masters degrees along with life-long learning in procurement transformation which he believes is becoming more of the model among today’s leading chief procurement officers.

Unfortunately, because of the schedule constraints involved with last week’s array of simultaneous conferences, I was forced to miss the final day of presentations at ISM 2016.

We encourage readers who attended this year’s ISM 2016 to share their own perceptions as well.

Bob Ferrari