I interviewed Dave Malenfant who discussed Bridging the Supply Chain Talent Gap.







It's great to speak with you today, Dave. This is going to be an interesting topic on Bridging the Supply-Chain-Talent Gap. But before we start, could you provide a brief background of yourself?


Great. Thanks, Dustin. Thanks for the opportunity. I sent over 40 years in the industry in various positions in supply chain, starting right from the bottom all the way to retiring as a senior VP in supply chain for Alcon. Then I now am working for TCU, Texas Christian University, as the direct for the Center for Supply Chain and Innovation, where my job is to do outreach and try to look at what kind of students that we can bring into the program, coupled with reaching out to industry to see what the industry needs are, and then helping to come up with a curriculum to try and fill those gaps.So with my industry experience, I think it's a great opportunity to come in and really look at how can we develop the talent for the future by working with a university such as Texas Christian University. So in our supply chain program, which right now is rated number 13 in the world.


What is the supply talent gap, particularly in terms of the digital supply chain?


Well, the digital supply chain is requiring, has changed the way we're looking at supply chain because what we're doing now, our traditional supply chains have been very, very focused on pushing product through our supply chain and then being able to push it into the consumer. So now what's happening is that we're seeing the demand where the consumer is really pulling it through. We call that demand driven. Now how that relates to digitization is that now with the millennial behavior, that Millennials want and [inaudible 00:01:59] for. So if you notice on the iPhone, you've got all these apps. So the Millennial and the consumer buying stuff would like to press an app which would order something and instantaneously want it. That data gets transmitted across the supply chain and it's expected that the shipper responds immediately to that demand. So as you have all these digital points of collecting the data, it gets put into the cloud as a huge data cloud, for lack of better term, big data.


So now what happens from a supply chain perspective, as people are ordering and using that, is how do we pull that down to really analyze the demands?So now the whole skillset has changed from the traditional looking at MRP, MPS, looking at forecasting, to where now we have to go out into the cloud, pull the data down, making it meaningful to do the analytics, to really understand what the demand is and being able to bring it all the way back in the supply chain to the supply or supplier and being able to put all the triggers in each link of the supply chain in order to meet that constant demand.


Is there more you could say about why it's important to bridge this gap?


Partially because the talent does not exist right now, or I should say, not that it does not exist, but the talent is... There is a gap in people understanding how to mine data and how to analyze the data to make it meaningful. So we're just not producing the talent that will fill the gap. The number one skill set that's being required by companies is supply chain analytics. And we're not producing enough people in our university program or in our certification programs that have that data set, to have that skillset in order to fulfill the demand that's out there. The demand is almost two to three times greater than what the supply is to fill that.


So what's happening is that either the companies are going without the data, without this skill set, and therefore, it's causing a huge problem for the companies, or we have to now try to retrain some of our current employees that are in supply chain to see whether or not they can pick up that skill set. Sometimes, what we're finding is that it's just not a skill set that a lot of the existing supply chain professionals can gravitate to very quickly.


So we have a real problem of trying to fill the demand that's being requested in order to meet all the requests that are coming in for this digital supply chain. Does that make sense?


Yes. And how do you fill this gap?


Well, I think right now, by working with higher education, we're trying to develop a lot more curriculum that is going to concentrate on data analytics and data intelligence, trying to continually reaching out to our high schools to try to recruit more and more students in the higher education. At the same time working with some of the big organizations such as Apex, CSCMP, ISM on trying to come up with programs and certifications that will help to put more emphasis on the data analytics, as well as trying to emphasize more and more webinars put on by various organizations that will help to try to educate people on blockchain, educate people on big data, the Internet of things.So it's going to be a constant effort to try and do that.


I've spent a lot of time, for example, organizing conferences or speaking at conferences or chairing conferences where our focus now is on the blockchain, the intelligent supply chain, digital supply chain, where we're not getting executives of organizations coming in to really learn about it. And at the same time, doing a partnership with companies in universities to say, "Okay. I've got this gap. How can we partner together to try to fill the gap through some of the talent that's coming through the universities?" Or, "Can you help us retain our employees to really understand what's going on?" So we're able to provide some certificate programs, provide some education from our professors that can actually work with companies to try to re-educate their workforce.


Thanks, Dave. Do you have any final recommendations?


Well, my recommendation is that if you have not yet looked at what you need and you've not completed your skill assessment, I think you have to. I think every company that's around, whether it be retail, whether it be business to consumer, or the consumer to consumer, you really have to do a skillset analysis. There are two things I think are happening in our supply chain.And we the uberization of our supply chain, which means that pinpoint data and data accuracy is becoming more and more in the now atmosphere, the Amazon effect, which is that, "I want it now, within hours." That has a great impact on our supply chain. So instead of saying, "It's not going to work," or, "I don't want to look at it," it's coming. It's coming very quickly. And those companies that ignore it and don't do this skill assessment to understand what my gaps are and how I'm going to fill those gaps are companies that I'm afraid are not going to be around in the next few years.


Those companies that are proactive and say that I'm doing my skillset. I'm going to partner with the university or college or with some of these organizations to really help to try to re-educate my workforce and try to bring up new talent within my workforce and coming up with a professional development program that's going to help to develop the skillsets that are necessary to meet the new supply chain are the ones that are going to be the most successful.And I encourage everyone to really, really work ******* trying to understand that talent, the people, are the number one priority. Having the right talent at the right time is very important. And having a strategy of how I'm going to bridge that gap is going to be critical for success.


Thanks, Dave.



About Dave Malenfant






Dave Malenfant



Global Supply Chain & Operations Executive | Procurement | Distribution & Transportation |CIP | Risk Management | S&OP


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