Supply Chain & Procurement: 2020 Predictions Vs Reality

    Kerry Consulting

    Supply Chains continue to undergo almost unparalleled change. Whilst their historical focus on productivity, quality and service is still relevant, digital transformation promises to herald a widespread evolution.

    2019 saw many businesses invest in and pilot new technologies with the goal of supply chain optimisation. This resulted in the hiring of specialist talent to support these initiatives.

    Similarly, US-China trade tensions and Brexit led to apprehension around how and where to source and manufacture products, and cost. Amid this uncertainty, consumers continued to demand greater transparency across the supply chain. Therefore, organisations needed to deliver on this – or lose out to competitors. The main hiring activity in 2019 was concentrated in sectors such as FMCG, retail, food and nutrition, and healthcare.

    At the start of 2020

    By contrast, many companies started 2020 with caution, with concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Covid-19 exposed the insecurity of global supply chains, throwing into disrepute the previous focus on efficiency and reducing costs.

    Whilst always known, it became alarmingly apparent how many companies are hugely reliant on production and supplies in China (accounting for 60% of global consumer good exports) and other low-cost Southeast Asian countries. More than 200 of the Fortune Global 500 firms have a presence in China. Being the first to be hit by Covid-19, the impacts of a disrupted supply chain hit global shores even before the virus did. It is inevitable that future supply chains will need to begin factoring in resilience, responsiveness and adaptability to build stronger long-term operations.

    Business executives and procurement leaders are having to maintain business as usual, whilst fulfilling urgent demands (such as healthcare and life sciences in particular) and contractual obligations, and also managing supplier challenges. On the other hand, e-commerce-based businesses and logistics providers have seen a surge in business and demand which have led to new hiring needs.

    Hiring outlook for Supply Chain & Procurement Roles in Singapore

    The skills expected to remain sought after in 2020 include:

    • Internal/ external stakeholder management skills. Helping to drive changes to processes from design to operations and the convergence of new technology to enable a more intelligent supply chain, as part of the push towards a ‘circular economy’
    • Good understanding of the manufacturing process
    • Ability to bring and embrace new technology to support better optimisation

    As a result, the top roles in 2020 in this space include:

    • Supply Chain Management
    • Operational Excellence
    • Demand/ Supply Planning
    • Strategic Sourcing/ Procurement
    • Project Leadership
    • E-commerce/ Online Supply Chain

    Part of the challenge for hiring managers stems from the fact that a number of candidates will have found themselves on the wrong end of structural reorganisations, which impacts their feeling of job security. This requires employers to invest more time in sharing their longer-term plans and strategies to assess how these can align with the career development goals of a candidate. Further, hiring managers need to ‘sell’ the opportunity of working for their company since individuals with the skills and attributes in demand have options.

    While core and essential replacement hires are taking place, many longer-term strategic hires have been delayed until later this year, should market conditions allow. Some opportunities should, however, emerge from the ongoing need for organisations to restructure.

    Overall, critical hiring is still happening during this unusual time. This hiring is largely for supply chain management, demand/ supply planning, procurement/ strategic sourcing. We are cautiously optimistic about hiring in coming months of 2020 within the supply chain function in the Asia Pacific region.


    Take a look at the 2020 Predictions vs Reality mini-series so far: