I interviewed Cherylann Welch who discussed Leadership in Supply Chain.
Can you provide a brief background of yourself?
Sure. No problem. My name is Cherylann Welch. I've been in the logistics industry for the last 15 years, plus. I currently have an MBA in global supply chain management, and I really enjoy the fast-paced, excitement factor in regards to logistics. I think it's very interesting. I think it really pushes your thinking, and it really encourages you to become a detective sometimes.
But overall, I'm really excited to speak to you.
Thank you. My first question is how do you define leadership in the supply chain?
Leadership on a whole, from my perspective, is that ability to lead from behind. What I mean from lead from behind, you should be able as a leader, in general, to be able to relate to the needs of your clients, as well as relate to the needs of your staff, and as well, to relate to the needs of the industry. You should be privy enough and knowledgeable enough as to the ever changing changes that we have in supply chain management.
It's all about innovation, creativity, but also humbleness. And the reason I say humbleness is because, while it's a fast-paced business – we're always on the go. Shipments are moving left, right, you're sending, you're trying to make that flight, you're trying to come up with the most cost-effective way to provide the level of service that you want for your clients, as well as still provide service.
At the end of the day, you have to understand that you're trying to meet the need of a client, both internal and external clients. So, you have to have a balance when it comes to leadership and not just focus only on the day-to-day operation, but also be willing to sometimes getyour hands dirty. At the same time, sometimes try to really look at the trends and see what the challenges are and how you can really develop your operations from a holistic point’s perspective. That's how I see it.
Why is leadership important?
To me, leadership is very, very important. In order for you to be successful in anything, in general, in life on a whole, you have to have a goal. You have to have some type of strategic plan where you want to accomplish the goal. A lot of the times, we often say that there's different reasons why we provide a service. It could be for quality. It could be a brand. It could be innovation. I would stick to that.
Basically, what I'm saying is that when you have strong leadership within an organization on a whole, your team tends to follow suit, and that can be seen by how you treat your clients, how you treat your employees, and usually, that allows organizations to always take themselves to the next level.
So, it's all about having that differential edge that a lot of organizations tend to try their best to have.
For example, I just recently read AT&T's CEO said that one of his focuses x– [audio cuts out]
Why is it important?
Why leadership is important...it's really about taking your organization to the next level. It's all about differential advantage. It's all about having a great understanding of the industry and leading by example. One of the things that I just recently read was AT&T's CEO stated that he wanted to focus on continuous learning for his team, for his entire organization. I found that to be really, really interesting.
It made me smile, and the reason why I said that is because a lot of the times, organizations do not invest in their key people, which is their staff. And I think a lot of times we fail to realize – and this also stems from leadership – the people that are working the day-to-day operation for your organization have a higher chance of providing solutions and innovative solutions for the good of your organization. However, sometimes they are not focused on, because sometimes the organizations focus more on either the profits, or they focus on trying to meet client needs. And I think it's about balance.
So, when you have strong leadership, where they cover all the key intricacies within the organization from operational cost to employee development to client development to seeing the clients' needs, meaning what the client's expectations are.
They tend to look at the organization from a holistic point of view. And then everything works more seamless. But sometimes, unfortunately, we think leadership is about just working in our own little silos and someone is just dictating how things should work. And there's no harmony within the organization, and I think that's something that a lot of the companies lack.
So, to see a CEO realize that we're in a changing time where technology has grown so fast... You can get anything online in a split second, and being about to compete with other companies and organizations worldwide is key to ensure that your staff is highly developed, as well as ensuring that your clients are educated.
That's one of the things that I've seen working in this industry for the last 15+ years, is that a lot of times there's an imbalance in how information is shared and how people lead. And that's just my personal feeling.
How is it done effectively?
I think leadership is done effectively by one having everyone on the same page in regards to what exactly is the ideal goal. For example, currently I work for Worldnet, and they are based in New York, and they're focus is the fashion industry. And they have key core values, and they instill the key core values within every staff member. They actually spend an exhaustive amount of time training and developing their staff in understanding that the most important two components within the company is the clients and the employees.
And this message is carried throughout the organization, from the cleaning guy– he's aware of the core values; he's aware of what the goals are of the organization. And I think that's one of the things that a lot of the times, it’s not done effectively. I always believe you should be able to pull aside the lowest ranking employee in the organization and inquire what is the goals of this organization? Where do you think the company is going in the next five years? And they should be able to at least be able to say confidently at least five key things. And that's because it was trickled down from the top down to the bottom.
A lot of times information stays at the top, and then employees are doing their own thing, and then we lose sight. So, we find companies facing a disparity and trying to understand what happened. Where did we go wrong? But I think it's all about communication. I think it's about dedication. I think it's about showing everyone is on the same page in regards to the strategic plan and understanding what your key role and responsibilities and how your role impacts the good of the organization.
To me, that's where you have greater opportunities to grow as an organization because everyone is able to relate and understand exactly what the main goal is and what the strategic is going forward to accomplish those goals. That's just how I see it.
About Cherylann Welch
Logistics & Supply Chain Manager