Global disruptions have brought huge change to the realm of supply chain management. But how are professionals within the industry keeping up? And what positives are emerging?

As part of the ITN Business news-style programme ‘Resilient Supply Chains’, leaders within procurement and supply chain management discussed some of the key changes within the industry — and how training and upskilling professionals is a crucial part of that change.  

Alison Barto, Chair of Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) spoke to ITN Business Presenter and Reporter Shannon Thomas about how sustainable and ethical practice has become integral to the profession. 

Alison Barto, Chair of CIPS

“With everything that’s happened – with the Ukraine war, Covid, and inflation, the role of the professional within procurement and supply chain has changed dramatically,” explains Alison. “Starting to think about resilience of the supply chain, contingency, how we source, where we source from, is really important. Sustainability is now critical to everything that’s happening.”  

Most organisations have set net zero targets — whether that’s for 2030 or 2050 — but the only way to drive that down is through managing the supply chain, she adds.  

“For some organisations, that carbon footprint is 90% of the goods or services that they source. So, it’s about being able to influence your supplier’s footprints, and their suppliers, and their suppliers.”   

“You have to understand every part of the supply chain if you are going to influence the sustainability output of your organisation. And now a lot of organisations have combined their procurement division with their sustainability departments because they realise that they go hand in hand.” 

So how are professionals within the sector adapting to this, and other regulatory changes? 

“Whether it’s on modern slavery, sustainability or other regulatory issues, professionals need to be skilled up,” Alison explains. “They need to understand them and be compliant.” 

Which is where the work of CIPS and its role in the sector plays a key role. CIPS, the world’s largest professional body serving procurement and supply, with over 60,000 members, sets standards within the industry and offers support through education and training programmes at all career stages. 

“Last year we facilitated 100,000 exams in 185 countries,” Alison says. “We do everything from initial qualifications to continually educating people on hot topics. In some cases, we don’t always have the answer, so we build partnerships with other organisations that can help us support our members as well.” 

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The Power of Collaboration 

CIPS partners with a range of organisations; from BAE Systems — to develop new training programmes — to charities like Action Aid and Health Procurement Africa (HPA), to ensure medication is sourced and distributed in the most ethical and efficient ways. 

“Sustainability is not a competitive issue. It’s a collaborative issue,” says CIPS CEO Nick Welby, who also features in the ITN Business programme. 

“Africa — and particularly healthcare in Africa — is an area where we have been working with donor partners to upskill the procurement and supply professionals, ensuring they can provide healthcare supplies in a more efficient way,” he explains.  

Communities across Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria are already benefiting from CIPS’ partnership with HPA, with more people getting access to life-saving medication and supplies.  

Supporting Real World Issues 

Through CIPS training and guidance, a local pharmacist in Kenya was able to source medical supplies more effectively and cut down turnaround times by reducing waste and delays. As he looks after 100 facilities, the training created a ripple effect, meaning more patients could benefit. 

“Working with external agencies allows us to support real world issues and work towards resolving real world challenges,” says Nick. 

Through ongoing education and smart collaborations, organisations are finding new practical solutions to help them navigate global societal change — and ultimately build a resilient, sustainable future.

Watch the ‘Resilient Supply Chains’ programme to find out more.