One Piece of Supply Chain Advice

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Andrew K. Reese, Editor, Supply & Demand Chain ExecutiveIf you happened to get on the elevator with, say, Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines; or Sharon Allen, chairman of the board at Deloitte; or even Mae Jemison, retired NASA astronaut, and you happened to strike up a conversation on the way up to the 57th floor, you might ask them for some insights into their respective fields, some perspectives on their paths to achieving the pinnacle of their professions, or perhaps some thoughts on where they are looking for their next challenges.

If you happened to be Patricia Moser-Stern, on the other hand, you'd ask them for just one piece of advice. Moser-Stern, a former Supply & Demand Chain Executive Pro to Know, built a successful career in the supply chain, with stints as chief procurement officer at Rogers Communications and vice president for procurement business services at EDS, before launching her consulting business, i3 advantage (www.i3advantage.com). Earlier this year Moser-Stern teamed with her co-author (and cousin) Barbara Moser to release their book 1 Piece of Advice, which offers up single-serving pearls of guidance solicited from four dozen trailblazing women across the fields of business, science, the arts, sports, public service and education.

The recommendations range from the practical ("Emphasize networking" — Maha AlGhunaim, chairperson and managing director, Global Investment House, Kuwait) to the spiritual ("Whatever I'm doing...I put a little God in there" — Della Reese, entertainer) and everything in between. As a whole, the book is meant to provide "an antidote to the 'glass ceiling' assertion" by highlighting women who have "made it" in their careers, as the authors write in their introduction.

When I spoke to Moser-Stern about the book, which garnered a Bronze Medal at the 2009 Independent Book Publisher Awards, I asked her what single piece of advice she might offer to supply chain executives during these difficult economic times. Instead — breaking her own rules — Moser-Stern offered two pieces of counsel. First: "Always dream big, otherwise you'll always achieve small" — her own advice included in the book. And second: "Remember that you only fail when you stop trying."

Moser-Stern explains further: "When you're in supply chain, you will constantly hit 'road closed' signs — people don't want to deal with you, they want to do it their way, and you won't be able to get traction. So what you have to do is find another way of attacking the problem, because there are always a plethora of different approaches. A true leader finds what motivates different people, and in supply chain, that's your job: find what their business drivers are, and then demonstrate how you can assist them in meeting their goals. That's going to let you build partnerships throughout the organization."

You can find 1 Piece of Advice (a phrase that Moser-Stern and Moser have trademarked, by the way), at www.sdcexec.com/1piece (which will take you directly to the book on Amazon.com), or visit the site for the book at www.1pieceofadvice.com. In the meantime, what single piece of counsel would you offer to your colleagues in Supply Chain? Write me at areese@sdcexec.com, and once I get a critical mass of entries, I'll publish them through the magazine. I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Personal Note: The current issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive is the first in nine years to be produced without Sarah Murray, our now-former managing editor. Sarah joined the magazine nine years ago, and her diligence, intelligence and patience have all contributed to making each issue better than the last. We wish Sarah all the best in all her future pursuits, even as we welcome Stacey Meacham, who brings more than a dozen years of experience as well as fresh eyes and perspective to her post as the new ME. We'll miss Sarah, but we're glad that we have Stacey on board with us.

— Andrew K. Reese
Editor, Supply & Demand Chain Executive