Supply chain responses in a pandemic (with Cédric Hervet and Stefan Gstettner)

00:08 Introduction
00:34 Why was the shortage of PPE, and particularly masks, such an issue worldwide?
02:24 Do you think we are too reliant on China and overseas trade?
04:10 In terms of organization, what have you observed in the way businesses are changing in order to react to this situation?
06:23 There has been a lot of criticism concerning the way many companies responded to such an emergency scenario. Should companies have stockpiled more? What would have a been a better approach to take?
11:11 Would you say that there has been poor visibility over the supply chains in the last few months? How can we improve the visibility for the future?
13:50 How has home confinement impacted upon deliveries?
17:35 Can technology still help in times which are so hard to predict?
21:55 Stefan, how do you prepare your clients at BCG for these rare scenarios like the tsunami, 911 and the Coronavirus?
26:00 Are there any positive side effects we can focus on? Which are the companies who did particularly well during this period of difficulty?
28:27 Will we return to some sort of normality or are there any long-lasting consequences which you can see fundamentally changing the way in which we operate?
31:37 Stefan, what are your thougts on the same topic?
33:55 Cédric, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the world economy would shrink at its fastest pace in decades. How can companies prepare for this?
39:29 What is your advice to a company to best prepare for the next months?


Covid19 has unleashed havoc for supply chains worldwide. Supply chains have recovered fast, but most realize they could have done better. In this episode, we are joined by Cédric Hervet (Kardinal) and Stefan Gstettner (BCG), to discuss how supply chains can fair better during a pandemic crisis.

Cédric is the Co-founder and Head of R&D at Kardinal, a route optimization software company, and Stefan is Partner & Associate Director at the Boston Consulting Group.

One of the the most pressing supply chain challenges highlighted during the crisis has been the worldwide lack of masks and PPE. We discuss how these shortages are the product of multiple causes and how these issues have highlighted the various shortcomings of a safety stock approach. In addition, we expand upon the strategy of stockpiling and investigate how well prepared organizations were.

We talk more about the role of digitalization and data in supply chains and how this can help to increase overall visibility, something that has been critiqued recently by experts due to the crisis. We learn more about the role of AI and discuss how it can help navigate volatile situations which exhibit so much uncertainty.

With Coronavirus demonstrating how dependent the globe’s supply chains are on single production sources, we debate how supply chains are likely to evolve. We ask whether companies will begin to shift their focus to more local supply chains and how this will impact upon their existing structure.

To wrap things up, we summarize the longer term and, more notably, economical impacts and how the situation is likely to evolve once stores and business start to open again.