The AWESOME Transformative Leadership Panel held on January 21 featured leaders from top companies providing supply chain services, who described 2020 as a year when everything changed and opened new possibilities for their companies and their customers in 2021 . The panelists were Tami Allensworth, SVP Customer Experience, J.B. Hunt; Kelly Blacker, SVP Global Air, Expeditors; and Jen Theisen, VP North American Surface Transportation, C.H. Robinson. The moderator was Natalie Putnam, CEO, DeliveryCircle, and an AWESOME Advisor/
The unexpected circumstances of 2020 caused what one panelist called a “freight cliff.” People stopped traveling so air freight had no planes to fly on. Costs shot up. Some companies stopped producing. Then a lot of medical products were being moved.
After a busy start to 2020, business basically stopped. Then demand came back with a vertical spike. Networks were out of balance and capacity was tight.
Panelists explained how their business – and their relationships with shippers who are their customers – changed as a result.
Some insights from the conversation:
- Some positives have resulted. Communication took so many forms and there was a need for greater transparency and more proactive thinking. Sometimes, for the first time, contingency plans were developed. And through all of this, it was possible for partnerships to grow stronger and for customers to gain confidence in their provider.
- Panelists agreed when capacity is tight, tough decisions need to be made. Communication and collaboration become more important than ever, providers have modal options that potentially have not been considered in the past. Providers are constantly “refreshing” their scope of services and technology solutions. Customers need to include providers in conversations about changes they are making in their own supply chain and identify pain points, because providers may have a potential solutions or will work with the customer to engineer a new solution. look at what’s possible that maybe they haven’t considered before.
- The more a provider understands their customer’s goals, the more they can offer creative solutions.
The panelists were asked what leadership attributes they “leaned on” to get through these times. Their answers aren’t just for providers or others in a similar situation, but also offer broader lessons about keeping teams together and looking out for employees’ well-being through challenging times.
The complete program is available on VIDEO