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March Madness is aptly named. With more than 70 million brackets filled out every year, college basketball's championship fills America's schools and workplaces with an intense sense of competition. While the office pool is often a boon to workplace culture, it's less helpful where productivity is concerned.

WalletHub reports that American businesses can expect to lose more than $4 billion as employees turn their attention court-side. That's not to say watching basketball is a total waste of time. This year's top-seeded coaches have a lot to teach Procurement professionals about effective leadership and talent development. Check out some of their thoughts below:

Duke University - Coach Mike Krzyzewski 

"The most fundamental thing about being a good leader is the ability to communicate in a trustworthy manner. You only establish that when you look each other in the eye and tell the truth."

With nearly forty years of success behind him, Coach K is often as easy to dislike as he is to admire. After all, even Duke fans probably get tired of seeing the Blue Devils excel every year. You don't have to like someone, however, to learn from them. Anyone who's ever conducted competitor research will understand the importance of borrowing insights from their adversaries. 

Speaking to Championship Coach's Network, college basketball's all-time wins leader revealed that one quality in particular has contributed to his success: trust. He trusts his players and they trust him

When team members trust their leaders, they are willing to fearlessly embrace change and identify opportunities to innovate. When they don't? Results tend to grow stagnant and culture tends to suffer. While leading through fear or intimidation might help secure a single victory, long-term success depends on transparency, honesty, and mutual respect. 

Coach K shows off trust by letting his captains and assistants speak their minds. You could do the same within your business. Recognize that leading is as much about listening as it is about providing direction. Welcome team members from across Procurement (and the organization as a whole) to offer constructive feedback and share their expertise. It will create a culture where ideas are freely exchanged and creative solutions are an everyday occurrence. 

Gonzaga University - Coach Mark Few 

"Sometimes this thing becomes bigger than life itself. It isn't."

College basketball's biggest month tends to inspire heightened emotions. Even casual fans sometimes find themselves overcome when things don't go their way. Coach Few reminds players and fans alike that it's important to keep things in perspective. Even a loss on the championship stage isn't the end of the world. 

His words should appeal to veterans and emerging professionals alike. Countless surveys have suggested that employees of all ages are eager to improve their work-life balance. Respondents cite a balanced lifestyle as advantageous to their relationships, their mental health, and even their productivity. While this thinking still strikes some as lazy or entitled, leading businesses are increasingly willing to shake things up. 

Part of becoming an effective leader is recognizing that your team members have a life outside of the office. Rather than treating flexible work options as a privilege for a select few, consider making your entire team's well-being a part of your mission. 

University of North Carolina - Coach Roy Williams 

"Don't halfway do somethingIf you're going to be a basketball player, be the best player you can be. If you're going to be a defensive player, be the best you can be. Don't cheat yourself."

You can easily apply Williams advice to Procurement. If you're going to work as a Procurement professional, be the best you can be. Failing to do so isn't just going to hurt your organization. It's going to stymie your own professional development and ultimately keep you from reaching your full potential.

While everyone defines success differently, Roy Williams suggests every team should pride one KPI over all others: effort. If every member of your team is working to the best of their ability, you'll not only win big, but your culture will benefit from an influx of enthusiasm and energy. 

From interns to the c-suite, everyone within an organizations should assess their performance honestly and work to distinguish themselves as a model of hard work. When anyone cuts corners or makes excuses, the entire business suffers. 

University of Virginia - Coach Tony Bennett

"Be thankful certainly when there's great success, but also be thankful for what you've learned through the hard times, because there's great wisdom in those experiences."

Any great leader will speak to their formative successes. More importantly, they'll speak to the lessons they've learned through disappointment or failure. There's a reason so many coaching cliches revolve around the value of losing graciously, of getting back up after getting knocked down. 

Devising innovative strategies is nothing if not an exercise in constructive failure. Even perennial number one seeds don't win every game. They do, however, look at wins and losses alike as opportunities to learn and grow. 

In Procurement and Supply Chain Management, it's the leaders duty to ensure no one on their team is afraid to fail. When failure occurs, each and every team member should feel empowered to regain their composure, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and collaborate to ensure success in the future. 

It's also the leader's duty to remind everyone of their own fallibility. When a leader communicates an air of perfection, they do little to inspire confidence. Recognizing their own shortcomings, on the other hand, encourages team members to put aside their fears and communicate with one another in a vulnerable, transparent way. 

In this week's edition of Mentorship Monday, we're taking an unconventional approach to the way we think about leadership with Jan Griffiths and a couple of our own stars here at Source One.

Professional Development is like Skydiving

When it comes to thrilling experiences few top that of skydiving. Imagine the exhilarating and eye opening ability to transition from sky to earth at incredible speeds. Through it, you’re forced to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, push your limits, and trust the people around you. There are parallels to be drawn between skydiving and professional development. 

The truth is, without knowing you have a trained professional behind you, or a properly functioning parachute to rely on, you're not going to have the guts to jump out of a plane. Your confidence and comfort comes from knowing you have reliable support. The thrill and lessons learned by taking that leap are halted without that feeling of safety. The same is true when it comes to innovation and taking risks in the workplace. A culture of safe and confident risk taking, one where no one’s afraid to take a leap, begins at the top with strong leadership.

According to Jan Griffiths CEO and Founder of Gravitas Detroit – a leadership consulting firm focused on helping companies nurture the next generation of innovators – and moderator of ExecIn, the premier executive-level supply management subconference at ISM2019, great leadership means providing a safe environment for encouraging employees to grow and innovate. 

Innovation is what keeps businesses and supply chains especially, alive. No supply chain professional should operate in fear of failing, since innovation is "by definition," says Griffiths, "trying and failing and trying again." It is every leader's responsibility to ensure employees feel the support they need to try new things, that's how companies succeed and grow. 

According to Gallup, one in two employees have left a job to get away from a bad manager, and just two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Managers play a huge role in an employee's daily experience and engagement level, so they should be great motivators.

Ahead of ISM2019, we caught up with Griffiths, as well as Elizabeth Skipor and Kaitlyn Krigbaum, two Source One Consultants who’ve earned spots on ISM’s 30 Under 30 list. We asked them to identify the leaders who have had the biggest impact on their professional development. Here's what they had to say:

Remembering Formative Leaders 

“My first boss believed in me and threw me into new and challenging situations at every turn, he supported me and always had my back. He made me feel unstoppable.” --- Griffiths

“My mom. She is crushing it in a male dominated industry as a biomedical engineer. She's brave and a free thinker.” --- Skipor

“An external consultant I used to work with in a past role. He was just so engaging and has an uncanny ability to connect with people that I respect and aim to emulate. He once told me that he wants his tombstone to read 'Here lies Marshall. He never met a stranger.' and that is so him.” --- Krigbaum

True leaders leave a lasting impression on their teams - even if their team members move onto new positions in new organizations. The right advice from the right leader has the potential to resonate throughout the life of an employee’s career. That’s why it’s so imperative for the leaders of the future to remember the power they hold. By functioning as mentors and coaches rather than managers, they’ve got to power to fundamentally change lives.  

Griffiths recalls the moment she realized just how much a great leader can do. "Leaders don't always think about the impact they have," she says. "I once had an employee say 'you’ve changed my life.' He had a manager that made him miserable and depressed. So much so that it was affecting his home life. I gave him the opportunity to lead a team in a particular category and the opportunity and success he experienced changed his life."

Innovation drives business, but all creativity is stifled by fear of failure. In addition to great power, Griffiths suggests leaders have an equally great responsibility. It’s their duty to provide a safe environment for professionals to make the leaps and bounds necessary to advance. Without this support, they’ll remain stagnant and so will the organization.  

Join Supply Chain Leaders at ExecIn

Not many leaders consider the legacy they will leave behind, but a truly excellent leader always thinks about the impact they have. Long-lasting legacies are one of the many topics Griffiths will discuss with Supply Chain leaders at ExecIn next month. Senior-level executives from non-consulting organizations with an annual revenue of over $1.2B are encouraged to contact Carole Boyle ( to express their interest and learn more about this exclusive opportunity.

ICYMIM: March 18, 2019

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.

Latest Procurement Technology Not Adopted Very Fast, LevaData Finds
Tom Cosgrove, Spend Matters, 3/18/2019
LevaData conducted a study proving most procurement professionals understand the advantages of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), but seems to drop the ball when it comes to implementing or adopting these tools. LevaData, a cloud-based cognitive sourcing platform that offers market intelligence and supply chain cost management solutions, reports statistical findings from their study on how companies are underperforming using old methodology and where they should be. Visit Spend Matters, as Cosgrove breaks down key takeaways from their study.

How Time Critical Does Your Transport Need to Be???
Michael Lamoureux, Sourcing Innovation, 3/13/2019
Lamoureux is motivated to revisit time-critical transport after the promotion of real-time logistics visibility by some vendors. He explains the few cases where it is necessary to expedite shipping, like JIT (Just In Time Manufacturing) and the circumstances in which the need is low. Click and find out if your supply chain is equipped to avoid time-critical transport.

Potential Pitfalls of the Food Supply Blockchain
Staff Writer, ThomasNet, 3/13/2019
As blockchain's already large footprint continues to grow in the food industry, it is important for professionals to examine some potential pitfalls and keep them in mind to ensure efficient use of the technology. Blockchain has thusfar provided safer, speedier and more efficient food supply chains, but to increase the longevity of its success, workers throughout the process must learn to leverage the technology--from supplier, processor, to truck driver, and so on. Visit ThomasNet to learn more on the future of blockchain's place in food supply.
Over the last decade, Elizabeth Skipor has distinguished herself as a uniquely flexible and collaborative Procurement professional. With a diverse background and an uncommon ability to drive savings in the Marketing category, she's emerged as an asset to Source One and the consulting space as a whole.

Recently, Elizabeth's expertise helped earn a pair of prestigious awards. In February, she was named a Procurement Pro to Know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive. Just a few weeks later, she earned a coveted spot on the Institute for Supply Management's 30 Under 30 list of Supply Chain Rising Stars.

She sat down with the Source One Podcast to discuss her journey from purchasing to consulting and offer some of the advice that's proven especially meaningful over the years. Subscribe on iTunes today or check out a transcript of the conversation below.

Bennett Glace: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Source One Podcast. I'm here today with one of ISM’s 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars - Elizabeth Skipor. How's it going, Liz?

Elizabeth Skipor: Good, how are you?

BG: I'm not too bad. I’m glad to have you on the podcast and super excited that Source One earned not one, but two spots on the 30 Under 30 list this year.

ES: Yeah, it's definitely an exciting time.

BG: And even more exciting with the ISM conference almost underway. So, to jump right into things, the theme for this year's ISM conference is ‘Spark.’ I'm hoping you could speak to a few of the sparks from your career in Procurement. When did you determine that this was the field for you.

ES: Of course. My career started in retail and I quickly grew interested in getting to the bottom of how and why consumers purchase their products. I thought the best way to do that was to explore things from the retailer’s perspective, to learn how and why they provide what they do. To get these insights, I transitioned into the role of a buyer.

That’s when I started to get a taste of supply chain management. Following my interest in apparel, I joined a private company that sourced fabric from designers. I got to travel the world sourcing for a lot of major brands and, from there, I moved into category management. That enabled me to handle the actual purchasing while gaining a more holistic look at our supply chain.

I found that I was pretty good at identifying what our clients needed, how to make those purchases, and how to market these products effectively. It was a constant learning experience, but it only made me want to learn more. 

BG: I’m also interested in the moment that spark really started to become a flame. Is there a key milestone or big win from early in your career that sticks out as formative?

ES: So, that was probably when I was traveling for work. You have a lot of time to think when you’re on a plane flying over to China. I don’t know if I can explain the feeling, but I felt that I was on my way to being where I was meant to be. I wanted to keep following the path I was on. More specifically, I wanted to broaden my expertise and learn more about purchasing products other than apparel.

I started moving into more CPG categories and I think the experience played into a natural interest of mine. I really love examining why people do what they do. That passion has been a real asset. I think it provides fuel during the information gathering process and it encourages me to consider multiple perspectives. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment, but flying to China was when I realized I had a passion.

BG: And could you relate any advice, any words of wisdom, that have helped shape your approach throughout your career?

ES: The best advice I’ve ever gotten is just be honest. If you’re honest with your work, if you’re honest with your suppliers, if you’re honest with your team, then can you collaborate to drive the results you need and sustain mutually beneficial relationships. Without everything on the table, you can’t expect to find success.

BG: So, as part of our Communications team, I’m often writing about the changing face and shape of Procurement. In your decade in the space, I expect you’ve seen a lot of those changes and maybe played a role in bringing some of them about. In a nutshell, how would you say the Procurement space has evolved throughout your career?

ES: Sure. Simply put, I think people are purchasing on a more holistic level. They’re looking at the full picture and seeing things from the top-down rather than the bottom-up.

We’re starting to apply more strategy to purchasing rather than just purchasing and dealing with the repercussions later. Professionals are going into engagements with a clear plan and a definite goal in mind. That’s been a huge change.

BG: Is there anything you would credit with bringing about those changes? What’s encouraging organizations to think differently about how they source and procure their products?

ES: I think a lot of it is just simple economics. A lot of organizations have seen the commodities they need get more expensive. They can’t afford to just reduce headcount or ship labor overseas either. The best companies are responding to changes by nurturing the talent they’ve got and encouraging them to approach purchasing more strategically. They’re recognizing that cutting costs isn’t just about identifying a lower price. It’s about seeing things from end-to-end – identifying the best suppliers, carrying out effective events, and working to enforce compliance.

BG: Have changes in the Procurement space helped change the definition of what it means to excel as a Procurement professional?

ES: Yeah, I think it’s only become more important for Procurement professionals to stay ahead of the trends and keep their eyes open to whatever’s coming next. You’ve got to have that vision in you’re going to adapt to disruption and set your clients up for success in the long term.

BG: And are there any new skills you see becoming more important as Procurement continues to evolve?

ES: Obviously we all know that Procurement professionals need to be well-versed in math and finance, but I think the human aspect of Procurement is becoming more and more important. You’ve got to be able to interact with people and communicate expectations and recommendations effectively.

It’s especially important for consultants in the space. Assessing the client’s needs and delivering on their objectives involves a ton of communication and people skills.

BG: So, as we’ve sort of implied, it’s a particularly exciting year to discuss the future of Procurement and its professionals. 2020 is right around the corner. For what seems like forever now, we’ve been talking about ‘Procurement 2020’ – it’s come to represent our idea of the future. I’m interested in learning how you’d advise a professional who’s just getting started in their career during this exciting time. In your opinion, how can an emerging professional set themselves up to mature into a rising star of the profession.
ES: Earlier, I spoke to the importance of staying ahead of trends. I want to reiterate how important that is for emerging professionals. You want to make sure that whatever recommendations you’re providing to clients is informed by what’s going on today as well as your expectations for the future. I’d also recommend they make an effort to attend presentations and industry events that are relevant to their category or vertical. That’s the best way to make yourself a part of the conversation. It’ll also give the next generation of professionals an opportunity to make connections and start to broaden their expertise.

BG: And what can organizations do to ensure they’re nurturing these rising stars?

ES: I think they should do everything they can to encourage their employees to attend these kind of conferences and give them every opportunity to learn from veterans within the organization.

BG: Well that covers it for my questions. Congratulation again, and thanks for taking the time.

ES: Thank you. 

March 15, 2019

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!

New Podcast:
Becoming a Supply Chain Rising Star
In this week's podcast we catch up with Elizabeth Skipor, a Source One Consultant in the Marketing category. She was recently recognized as Institute for Supply Management's 30 Under 30 and named a Procurement Pro to Know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive. In this interview she brings us on her journey to becoming a rising star in the Supply Chain industry and offers advice that has proven useful to herself over the years. Visit our channel to listen and subscribe so you don't miss a beat.

Upcoming Events:

ISM 2019 | April 7 -10 | Houston, TX
Less than a month until ISM 2019, Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Annual Conference, sponsored by Source One! Mix, mingle and learn from thought leaders and your peers in the Supply Chain industry. Get engaged in multiple breakout sessions and discover new solutions that are available with over 100 leading industry suppliers featured at the event.

ExecIn | April 8 - 9 | Houston, TX
The premier Supply Chain leadership experience is less than a month away! An exclusive sub-conference for C-suite Supply Chain professionals taking place the second and third days of ISM2019. This event entails elite keynote speakers, collaborative and thought-provoking discussions and insights on the relevant industry topics. If you have interest in this invite-only event be sure to reach out to Carole Boyle at
Bulk material handling began toward the end of the 18th century. America's coal-powered Industrial Revolution took place a few decades later. Lean Manufacturing emerged in the 1930s and entered the mainstream throughout the 1990s. Today, new technologies are powering another new generation of manufacturing. What changes can we expect to see in the coming years?

Rapid Growth and Innovation 

The last two years have seen Adidas AG make real strides. Trailing behind its rival Nike for decades, the German apparel company closed the gap throughout 2017 and 2018. They owe much of this progress to a new emphasis on the North American market. They've doubled their business in the region over the last three years.

While the company has long relied on endorsements from athletes, it stepped into new territory by naming Pharell Williams a spokesperson in 2014. Sporting a pair of Adidas Superstars across a series of ads, the music icon brought about a surge in sales. 15 million pairs left shelves in 2015 alone. They accounted for almost 10% of the company's revenue throughout the year.

2018 saw an even more rapid and dramatic up-swing thanks to a more controversial superstar: Kanye West. Over Q4, Adidas experienced 8.6% percent growth across the North American market. This was a 31% increase over the same period in 2017 and resulted in an additional 1.3 billion Euro in revenue. SGB Media suggests the speedy growth was due in large part to West's line of Yeezy apparel.

Speaking to GQ, CEO Kasper Rorsted remarks, "Kanye has repeatedly stated his aspiration to democratize the Yeezy brand. We share his aspiration and we are working hard to bring his vision to life." Their efforts included reducing prices and dramatically ramping up production for the embattled rappers line of products.

A Turn for the Worse 

Unfortunately, last year's enthusiasm is starting to look premature. 

This week, Rorsted told stakeholders that supply chain concerns have slowed his company's growth throughout the early months of 2019. Suppliers, he suggests, are having trouble keeping up with the organization's rapid expansion throughout North America. Asian suppliers in particular have lacked the volume to meet demand for the organization's mid-priced offerings. 

"The volume," he reports, "grew quicker than anticipated and we didn't respond quickly enough to that demand signal." These concerns are expected to eliminate between 1-2% of sales growth over the rest of the year. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Adidas' new concerns have come at a particularly distressing time. The world's second-biggest sportswear company is already contending with stalled revenue throughout Western Europe. Low demand for athletic clothing has already forced the company to remove merchandise worth more than half a million Euro from store shelves.

What's Next? 

Rorsted and company intend to double-down on their new Yeezy-centric business model. While they will continue to produce certain products in deliberately limited quantities, they will also introduce more and more to the mass market. "In a normal year," Rorsted says, "we'll have between 20 and 30 launches of Yeezy products, where it used to be around two and three."

He goes on to suggest the company will address its European concerns with a renewed focus on Marketing. They will not, however, divert their focus from athletic apparel. Rorsted elaborates, "We want to be the best sports company in the world, not the best fashion company." The company recently inked a sponsorship deal with Arsenal and is eager to establish additional partnerships.

Adidas stock has dropped by just under 3% since Rorsted delivered the bad news to shareholders. Investors and executives hope they'll pick up the pace and take the lead back from Nike before the year comes to an end.   

Companies improving their inventory management, data shows

Much like the weather, the supply chain is an inexact science. Regardless of the industry, businesses must walk an ever increasingly fine line in order to ensure that they have enough product to deliver to satisfy demand, but not so much as to lead to monetary losses caused by unsold inventory.
But thanks to advancements in technology, it appears that companies are getting a better read on their buyer behaviors, and establishing a more well-oiled distribution supply chain as a result.

"The nation's inventory-to-sales ratio has progressively dwindled over the past several decades."
The nation's inventory-to-sales ratio has progressively dwindled over the past several decades, according to data collected by Supply Chain Dive from the U.S. Census Bureau. This ratio traces the value of sales on a monthly basis versus unsold inventory. The lower the number, the more efficient the supply chain is presumed to be. For example, a ratio of 2.3 at a computer goods and accessories store is an indication that the company has around two months and three weeks' worth of merchandise to satisfy the rate of demand.

Scott Scheleur, assistant division chief for the Census Bureau's retail and wholesale indicator programs, told the online publication the inventory-to-sales ratio serves as a barometer of how adroitly companies are maintaining their supply chain.

"It's been a measure we've tracked for years to give an indication of how much inventory [retailers] have on hand," Scheleur explained.

Ports saw more container volume in November, December
The ongoing tariff dispute between the U.S. and China, among other major countries, has made the inventory situation a bit more difficult to assess, given the unknowns and various price fluctuations that trade wars typically create. However, retailers have largely been able to find the proper balance. According to the most recent month for which data is available, U.S. trade ports processed around 1.9 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit cargo containers) in December, based on estimates from the National Retail Federation. That's up close to 9 percent in comparison to the previous month and a near 14 percent increase on a year-over-year basis. The growth was largely a function of December serving as the height of the holiday buying rush for retailers and improved consumer sentiment.

Much of the inventory delivered was snatched up during the Christmas and Hanukkah buying blitz. Indeed, sales rose just shy of 3 percent last year compared to 2017, based on the NRF's data. That was lower than anticipated, but economists attribute the somewhat underwhelming growth to the partial government shutdown, the length of which was longer than originally suspected.

Businesses are better leveraging technology
Of course, when merchandise doesn't get sold, it goes back into storage for the time being, but the advancements in logistics and computational analysis has given companies more insight into buying trends, thus making better use of what space they have.

Mark Cohen director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, said the declining inventory-to-sales ratio is evidence of this.

"Technology has enabled the retailers and suppliers to shorten the supply chains to enable retailers to hold less inventory at any moment in time," Cohen told Supply Chain Dive during a recent interview.
Cohen added that while an insufficient amount of supply is certainly inadvisable, an overabundance of product is inherently risky because most things have a shelf-life - in the literal and figurative sense of the term.

"Inventory is frangible," Cohen further told Supply Chain Dive. "It's obviously perishable if you're a grocer, but it's also perishable if you're a fashion retailer."
Speaking of which, grocery items as well as clothing and fashion accessories have fared well in recent months. Clothing retailers witnessed a 4.2 percent uptick in sales during the all-important

Christmas holiday shopping season, and grocery store locations also experienced growth in customer traffic on a year-over-year basis, up just shy of 2 percent, the NRF reported.

Cohen said that so long as technologically continues to improve and retailers maintain a constant flow of communication with manufacturers, they should be able to optimize their supply chains even further in the months and years to come.
From her earliest days as a Supply Chain professional, Elizabeth Skipor has had an interest in the big picture. Working in the retail space, she began to consider the 'how' and 'why' of the consumer's purchasing decisions.

She recalls, "I thought the best way to see those insights was to move into a new role as a buyer." The position enabled her to gain insights from both the retailer and consumer's perspective.

The ability to view projects through a number of lenses has served Elizabeth well throughout her time with Source One. She's widely recognized for her collaborative approach to negotiations and the unique skill set her time as a practitioner has helped her develop. Recently, these qualities helped her secure both Supply and Demand Chain Executive's Pro to Know award and a coveted spot on ISM's 30 Under 30 list of Supply Chain Rising Stars.

Elizabeth is especially commended for her success in bridging the gap between Marketing and Procurement units. While the two aren't typically known as allies, she has continually excelled at helping them speak each other's language and invest in one another's success.

She credits her success to passion, a diverse set of experiences, and a helpful piece of advice she received while working as a buyer. "The best advice I've ever gotten," she says, "was just be honest." Honesty - even during uncomfortable conversations - has powered her through a decade of professional success.

"If you're honest with your suppliers, if you're honest with your work, if you're honest with your teammates, you can collaborate to produce the results that'll keep relationships mutually beneficial."

Honesty and transparency, she remarks, are an increasingly essential part of success in Supply Chain Management. The old days of strong arm tactics and keeping customers in the dark are long gone. Consumers expect their preferred organizations to provide insights into their business, and employees demand their managers offer feedback consistently.

Elizabeth suggests these uniquely human skills are the ones that will come to define the Procurement world's rising stars throughout the next generation. "While it's always been important for consultants to possess human-facing skills to assess client needs, I think you can expect to see these qualities grow more valuable in each area of Procurement."

Another ongoing change, Skipor suggests, is that leading companies are looking at Procurement as a more holistic process than ever before. "We're seeing a shift from a bottom-up approach to a top-down one."

She concludes with a reminder that the next set of rising stars need to ensure they're prepared to get out ahead of these trends and take quick, strategic action. Where they can they start to build their expertise and assess Procurement's direction?

Elizabeth recommends they seek out opportunities to attend industry events like ISM's Annual Conference. Next month, she'll attend ISM2019 and be formally recognized alongside Kaitlyn and the rest of this year's 30 Under 30 winners.

Headed to Houston? Don't forget to stop by Booth #483 to learn more about how Source One has nurtured a team of supply chain rising stars.

Earlier this year, a group of investors worth more than $6.5 trillion distributed an open letter to McDonald's, Chipotle, and other giants of quick-serve dining. They chided the restaurants, all active participants in the agricultural supply chain, for failing to address their outsize contribution to climate change. Unlike other "high-emitting industries," they asserted, the agricultural sector has neglected to establish a clear plan for addressing and eliminating pollution.

Citing staggering water pollution and land use statistics, the investors issues a series of demands. They insist the organizations develop clear, transparent plans for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as well as that of their supply base. Most importantly, they call on the fast food providers to share their progress with investors and consumers.

Their deadline for these changes? March. As if on cue, another high-powered group of investors is calling for changes to the world of agriculture. This time around, the letter's recipients are unknown. Its distributors, however, are revealed to include "57 investors representing approximately US $6.3 trillion in assets." Ceres, a sustainability non-profit, is spearheading both initiatives. 

Soy and Deforestation

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports that deforestation and the accompanying fires generate 10% of all global warming emissions. Soy is one of just four commodities (along with beef, palm oil, and wood) that drives the majority of this destruction and pollution.

Though the Brazilian Amazon has long stood as a "poster child for the global forest-conservation movement, and has enjoyed increasing protections," Bolivia's stretch of the world's largest rainforest is decidedly less secure. UCS estimates nearly 500,000 hectares of forest fall prey to soy farming every year.

In 2017, The New York Times reported that the country has lost a Rhode Island-sized stretch of forest every year since 2011. Accompanied by satellite imagery, the exposé found that much of this "large-scale forest-clearing" was carried out by farmers who trade soybeans with companies including Cargill. 

At the time, Cargill's CEO David MacLennan expressed a desire to take action. "If there's something there, if it's substantiated, we'll do something about it." Cargill announced last month that it is committed to sustainable soy and pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2020.

The type of satellite tracking employed by the Times has grown increasingly familiar to environmentalists and destructive corporations alike. Providing real-time insights into deforestation, it likely inspired this week's news.  

Investors Demand Action

Based on current trends, global demand for soybeans is expected to increase by between 70 and 80 million metric tons over the next decade. This suggests the deforestation epidemic will grow far worse if the soy trade's major players don't act now. 

The letter from investors acknowledges that soy represents an essential cash crop for farmers across a number of developing countries. They express concern, however, "that the environmental and social issues associated with unsustainable soybean production could have a material impact on companies that source the commodity." 

They go on to enumerate the risks associated with continuing to source soy traditional methods. In addition to damaging the environment, the soy chain's key stakeholders risk damage to their reputation as consumers begin to associate them with deforestation as well as "land and labour rights issues." These companies could also soon play a role in diminished agricultural yields and even face backlash from regulatory perspective as the situation worsens. 

Julie Nash, Ceres' Director of Food and Capital Markers, suggests recent findings on the scope and severity of climate change has inspired the investors to action. 

"In light of the latest IPCC report urging the limiting of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees," she remarks, "addressing the emissions impacts from deforestation will be critical." 

A (Non-Negotiable) Call to Action

Like January's investor letter, this week's culminates in a list of demands. The investors write, "We expect companies to demonstrate commitment to eliminating deforestation within their entire soybean supply chain, and will seek evidence of this on multiple levels."

While they do not include a timeline - or identify any potential consequences - they break their expectations into four sections:

1. Awareness and Governance
- Gain insights into sustainability and deforestation at the board level. 
- Develop and disclose a commodity-specific, time-bound plan for addressing the issues across their entire supply chain.

2. Risk Management and Traceability 
- Disclose processes for identifying and addressing risk factors. 
- Commit to traceability across all direct and indirect supply networks. 
- Provide evidence of a transparent system for monitoring supplier compliance. 

3. Strategy and Risk Mitigation 
- Disclose the percentage of soy sourced from compliant suppliers. 
- Disclose protocol for addressing non-compliance. 
- Disclose time-bound strategy for reducing emissions. 

- Disclose metrics used to identify and address risk factors. 
- Disclose emissions as calculated through industry-recognized methodologies. 

What's Next?

With numerous investor groups demanding quick and comprehensive action, it's clear the agricultural sector can no longer afford to lag behind its high-emitting peers. Coffee, cocoa, palm oil, beef, and tea providers all face a new level of scrutiny. Which commodity group will find itself in the spotlight next? 

A combination of low unemployment and high expectations from applicants mean it's harder than ever to secure leading talent. The situation also makes it especially painful to lose a top-performing team member to a competitor. 

Unfortunately, the sting of losing these star players has become an increasingly familiar feeling for Procurement and Supply Chain leaders. Gallup suggests American businesses are facing a "crisis of engagement." In its most recent Employee Engagement survey, the organization found that a whopping 87% of American employees are not engaged. 

Even more troubling, they found that high-talent employees were just as likely to feel disengaged as their struggling peers - just as likely to feel disengaged, and just as likely to quit. 

When an employee - particularly a high-performing one - decides to walk, it's always a stressful time. Worse still, the process of off-boarding and saying goodbye is rarely a transparent one. Employees who will freely, constructively air their grievances on the way out are as hard to come by as world-class resources.

We asked Source One's supply chain recruiting expert, Andrew Jones, why his candidates say they left past positions. He also offered some thoughts on how businesses can change things up to keep their most effective employees engaged and productive.

1. No Opportunity to Grow
"Truly world-class candidates," says Jones, "don't view professional development as a series of escalating salaries. They're hungry to mature in their role, embrace new opportunities, and serve their organization as a valuable resource." He's right to suggest that advancement trumps compensation for many professionals. Gallup's most recent engagement survey saw 32% of respondents identified a lack of opportunity as their reason for calling it quits. That's 10% more than cited salaries.

Veterans and emerging professionals like want to know they've got a voice. It's important for managers to devise and communicate career paths. With regular check-ins, they can display their level of investment and ensure top performers are moving through the ranks at the appropriate pace.

2. No Flexibility
"It's often tagged as entitlement," Jones remarks, "but employees expect a healthy work-life balance and a schedule with built-in flexibility. More than half of employees told Gallup they would switch jobs to improve flexibility." Whether it's providing opportunities to work remotely, customize schedules, or take paid time off - a small concession to employee happiness and well-being often goes a long way.

3. No Recognition
"Here's another one that's often mislabeled as entitlement." Jones continues, "I think that's way off base. There's nothing wrong with expecting recognition for a job well done." Star performers and struggling employees alike want reminders that they're valued. These reminders don't have to come in the form of pay raises or other expensive incentives. A simple public thank you is generally enough to let your team know you care.

4. Toxic Company Culture 
Jones says it's not just toxic bosses who push employees out the door. "A negative workplace can manifest itself in needless competition, cliques, and other kinds of office politics." Businesses that let toxicity get out of hand may as well be encouraging their top performers to jump ship. "I've certainly heard some stories," Jones says. More often than not, a bad workplace culture is also one where transparency is discouraged. This means no one is offering feedback and no positive changes are getting made.

Making the necessary changes to retain and engage talent will take time and effort. Even sweeping reforms, however, won't take as much of your business as losing your most promising talent. Where to start? Why not consider administering a survey to your team to gauge their engagement. "Honest feedback from your team," Jones suggests, "will provide the most effective path toward better engagement." Why wait?

ICYMIM: March 11, 2019

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.

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