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Heather Sheehan opens SMC3 Connections 2018 as Honorary Chair

AWESOME’s Executive Director Heather Sheehan gave opening remarks at the recent SMC3 Connections event in her role as the event’s Honorary Chair. Heather’s remarks focused on the importance of supply chain leaders being connected to the top-level strategies of their organization.

SMC3 is an annual conference giving shippers, 3PLs, carriers and technology providers the opportunity to explore emerging trends, current challenges and new innovations in the supply chain. The 2017 Honorary Chair was AWESOME Advisor Shari Boston, Vice President, Global Sourcing & Supply Chain, ConvaTec Inc., a global medical device company.

In Heather’s 2018 remarks, she polled the group on how they achieve continuous improvement in their organizations – and cited possible priorities such as equipment standardization and/or upgrades, process standardization, hiring practice improvements, technology upgrades, cost reductions or performance improvements from suppliers/labor.

Drawing from her three decades of supply chain leadership, including being Vice President Indirect Sourcing and Logistics for Danaher Corporation before taking on responsibilities at AWESOME, she suggested that one critical reason a supply chain may not be achieving optimal performance is that “our supply chain professionals aren’t involved in strategic decision-making.”

Heather suggested participants assess how connected they are by asking themselves six questions:

  • Execution without effective strategy is chaos. Have you eliminated the chaos from your department so that you can execute every day without getting pushed and pulled in different directions by other functional areas?
  • Are you personally involved in cross-functional strategic planning activities?
  • Are your annual objectives directly linked to your organization’s top-level business strategy?
  • Are you coaching new supply chain professionals about how to link their daily activities to the overall business strategy and objectives?
  • Can you and each of your staff members name your organization’s top-level objectives for this year, and for the coming three years?
  • Have you earned the respect of the other functional areas in your organization so that they understand the value you create?

Heather then made specific recommendations about what leaders can do if they had to answer “no” to any of those questions. Based on her experience and hard research showing better decisions are made by diverse teams, she said the key to continuous improvement is for supply chain leaders is “being involved in strategic planning, hiring strong, talented problem-solvers, and creating diverse teams.”

Read Heather’s full remarks, including her specific recommendations.

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