Supply Chain Matters highlights for readers insights and key observations from the recently published Korn Ferry 2023 Supply Chain Talent Study



In our prior Supply Chain Matters commentaries, and specifically in our most recent commentary, Renewed Importance of Production Planning and Scheduling- The Talent Challenge, we addressed the growing importance of securing and retaining needed talent for companies who are considering, or who have invested in supply chain digital transformation or in more responsive Cloud based software applications supporting tactical and operational planning processes.

Any technology enabled transformation or process augmentation effort has some form of change related to exiting and future skill needs. Forcing planners to build constant workarounds outside the existing tech stack and standardized information flows needlessly creates an overly complex process that is even more difficult to understand, harder to master and likely highly challenging to recruit for.

Younger, more experienced, or tech savvy professionals often seek an organization that can provide meaningful career growth and additional skill areas to build upon. New entrants into the workforce seek to work with advanced tools, grow their skill levels and not utilize untimely paper, Excel spreadsheets or legacy applications in order to adequately plan or anticipate plan changes. It requires that planning process needs be augmented by talent that provides a broader complement of skill levels for embracing business driven changes, while leveraging advanced or changed technology tools.


Added Resource

Global organizational, human resources and recruitment management consulting firm Korn Ferry recently published an annual study, 2023 Supply Chain Talent Study.

This study polled CEO’s, Chief Supply Chain or Operations Officers, Vice Presidents and Managers. Surveys were distributed during a period from December 2021 thru April 2022, and have been periodically updated.

Key takeaways of this latest study are communicated to be that “organizations must prioritize supply chain talent initiatives and investments” especially as “organization’s work to address changing needs of today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving supply chains.”

This study’s Executive Summary addressed challenges in recruiting supply chain leaders, and indicated in part:

Supply chain leaders need a wide range of skills to be successful, but the skill most cited by respondents is an agile mindset. They also need effective communication ands respondents report looking for new hires with end-to-end supply chain experience, effective communication, and experience building a team or with organizational design.”

Regarding specifically cited hiring challenges, the four top areas that survey respondents indicate as key required skills were:

  • End-to-end supply chain knowledge (57 percent)
  • Supply chain transformation experience (operations and process improvements) (43 percent)
  • Data analysis and reporting capabilities (41 percent)
  • Integrated supply chain experience (36 percent)


Noted in the area of new supply chain roles: “The new roles being created within supply chain are altering the traditional supply chain architecture, further demonstrating the need of those within the industry to be adaptable and agile.”

The study addressed what is described as “digital engagement gaps that exist within their workforce todayand specifically indicates a lack of digital knowledge and skills among upper-level employees, “especially toward ensuring digital tools are used effectively.”


Importance of Corporate Culture

The report authors indicated that when a company’s culture aligns with purpose, strategies and business goals, it can accelerate growth, improve employee engagement and reduce risks. Respondents in this survey reportedly indicated their observation of an ongoing shift in supply chain culture. The top four factors influencing ongoing supply chain culture shifts are noted by respondents to be corporate strategy (56 percent), the competitive landscape (42 percent), digital innovation (35 percent) and the need to prioritize more agile behaviors (29 percent).

An insight we found to be rather insightful came from Kristen McConnell, Director of Supply Chain Talent Strategy for large dairy cooperative Land O’ Lakes. Regarding the challenges for finding specific skills that can only be garnered from external hiring, McConnell noted: “You attract by having an amazing (organizational) culture. Part of that culture is being a company that invests in its people.” McConnel further observed that given the current labor market availability: “We need to really think about the fact that we have people in place who are already committed to us, and we can develop that talent.

We recommend that supply chain leaders considering undertaking these forms of transformation review this rather interesting and timely Korn Ferry study. The report can be downloaded from this web link.


Bob Ferrari

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