The Future of Work in Supply Chains

Mahatma Gandhi famously said that “The future depends on what you do today.” ― and for the organizations of tomorrow to be successful they already need to start establishing the right set up and supply chain operating model. We’re delighted to welcome Markus Leopoldseder and Knut Alicke from McKinsey to discuss with us which capabilities organizations should be focusing on, and what the future of work in supply chains may look like.

Markus is Senior Supply Chain Consultant as well as Director of Knowledge of McKinsey’s Supply Chain Management Practice. He has been with McKinsey for over 20 years, where he focuses uniquely on supply chain projects. Previously, he spent 10 years at IBM working on production planning.

Knut has a background in mechanical engineering and undertook a PhD in logistics before doing a post PhD in supply chain management. After university, he began a start-up creating planning software for consumer electronics companies. He joined McKinsey 16 years ago, where he is now a Partner, focusing on various supply chain topics, including digital solutions. He also lectures in supply chain at the University of Cologne.

We can say that supply chains are moving towards a more analytical and quantitative mindset when compared to the past. This evolution brings with it new roles. We discuss just how important programming language knowledge, such as Python, SQL etc. is for these roles and within supply chain in general, and how much more accessible programming languages have now become. Nowadays, it’s practically impossible to even obtain an engineering degree without learning any programming. Yet, there is often a gap between what academia is providing and what the supply chain industry actually needs.

We also deliberate the pros and cons for the important question of centralization within companies and its impact on supply chain. Centralization can be extremely effective when it comes to core IT infrastructure. For example, Amazon successfully built and implemented their own internal cloud system.

To wrap things up, we discuss one unexpected positive point of the COVID pandemic: how it has significantly increased the importance of supply chain as well as its visibility. CEOs and senior managers are now talking about supply chain and better understand what their supply chain departments are actually doing. In addition, we discuss the various exciting developments that are on the horizon for supply chains.


00:00 Introduction

00:36 Markus, perhaps you could start by telling us a little more about your background?

01:28 Knut, perhaps you could introduce something about yourself as well?

03:00 Joannes, how much do you see organizations in the future changing the way their supply chains are managed?

05:18 In your experience, do companies have the right capabilities in place to meet the challenges of the future?

06:37 What are the new roles that the supply chain will need?

07:58 What skills will the Supply Chain Scientists of tomorrow need?

10:36 Would you say that there is a gap in the way we are educating students compared to what the market needs?

12:12 Is there a best practice we can follow in terms of organizational structure?

14:06 How do you see the division of work in the future?

17:58 Do you think that the supply chain department could become more dominant in the future?

19:17 Do you see the responsibilities and the scope of the supply chains of the future changing?

21:28 From an IT perspective, will supply chains take on more responsibilities?

24:41 As a final word, what excites you the most about the future of work in the supply chain?

27:25 Is supply chain just for nerds?