A team of four high-flying supply chain management professionals from South African aviation industry supplier Aerosud Aviation will take the hopes of Africa to a global industry competition in Lisbon, Portugal in September.
The group recently took the number one spot in the ‘international’ pool of the Fresh Connection Global Challenge, a unique supply chain management simulation game in which teams compete online to save a virtual fruit juice company from financial ruin.
Members of each team choose a particular discipline – supply chain, operations, sales and purchasing – and together they make strategic and tactical choices that affect their success.
Created and managed by Netherlands-based supply chain learning specialists Inchainge, the simulation generates results that are analysed by sophisticated software at the end of each round, to calculate the effects of each teams’ decisions and to rank their positions.
In Aerosud Aviation’s case, they were up against not only other South African companies but teams from other parts of the continent and elsewhere in the world. When they get to Lisbon, the team of Andre Tustin, Lee-Anne Slabbert, Ofhani Magabe and Eugene Nel will face the winners from the US pool, the Russian pool and the Dutch pool, among others.
“We were very surprised and extremely pleased to hear that we had won our round and would be competing in the global final,” said Tustin, who manages supply chain synchronisation and continuous improvement at Aerosud Aviation. “This was the first time we had participated – and found it challenging but also good fun and a real learning experience.”
He said the most useful aspect of the simulation was the way it could ‘speed up’ the time between cause and effect – making the consequences of decisions much more immediate and instructive.
“In the real world of supply chain management, we often make decisions that take a long time to show any results,” he said. “In a simulation game like this, the advantage is that you see consequences quicker and it brings home the learning process.”
Inchainge director Hans Kremer emphasised that the Fresh Connection is really a hands-on training tool, focused on aligning the different functional units of a business at the strategic and tactical level.
“Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in business is for people to align their tasks with those of their colleagues in other ‘silos’ of the organisation,” said Kremer. “This simulation game not only gets participants to do that more effectively, but allows them to practice doing this in a safe environment where the consequences of their actions are quickly realised. The power of experiential learning makes these lessons stick.”
He said all participants in this – the seventh – Fresh Connection final can look forward to a demanding but enjoyable day at a stylish venue in Lisbon on 28 September, where Inchainge will host the event.
“It is incredibly exciting for a South African team to be in the final, and we wish them all the best of luck,” said Tonya Lamb, business development executive at SAPICS – leading supply chain association and the South African partners in this global competition.
“It is always heartening to see the high level of expertise in our local supply chain sector, and this is sure to raise interest among other companies and supply chain professionals for next year’s event – which starts in March 2018.”