While this year has been one of the most testing ever for the supply chain management profession around the world, SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management) has announced that the Southern African supply chain community will end 2021 on a high note. The association reports that it has added massive impetus to its drive to professionalise supply chain management in Southern Africa and to support and develop the increasingly important supply chain profession.
“The VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world in which we are living right now has thrown supply chain management into the spotlight across the world. Supply chain agility and transparency have become critical to ensure our customers are served,” says SAPICS president MJ Schoemaker. She notes that the year has been a challenging one for supply chain practitioners all over the world and commends them for their achievements.
“Many countries have had to manage issues and challenges that compromised their economies. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for a long time. Organisations like SAPICS are well positioned to tackle these challenges and draw from the expertise of our diverse membership as we professionalise supply chain management across the continent.
“SAPICS is an extraordinary organisation made up of individuals who are genuinely passionate about supply chain management and have seen firsthand how the contribution of all supply chain professionals can truly save lives and change the world. Many of our members volunteered to support businesses through the disruption of the pandemic, which shows how dedicated SAPICS is to keep the supply chain community strong,” Schoemaker stresses.
Looking back on an eventful year, she says that the numerous virtual events hosted by SAPICS brought the supply chain community closer together and created a strong support structure for everyone. “It was critical to keep connected, and to keep learning and sharing knowledge, to strengthen supply chains amid the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. The 43rd annual SAPICS Conference was a great success, with excellent speakers and good attendance. With the pandemic putting unprecedented pressure on supply chains, it was one of the most important ever, and saw hundreds of supply chain professionals from Africa and around the world come together online to learn, share knowledge and network.
“The 7th SAPICS Young Professional and Student Conference was interactive, informative and underpinned by a mentoring programme kick-off. SAPICS understands the importance of supporting our young professionals and looks forward to seeing the outcomes of the mentorships that have started. This event is part of the SAPICS Youth Development programme through which SAPICS aims to
address youth unemployment in South Africa, the skills deficit in the supply chain field, and to ensure that young professionals are industry-ready for job opportunities in the dynamic and increasingly critical supply chain management field.”
Schoemaker says that the SAPICS training and support programme for SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises), which was launched this year, is gaining momentum. “SMMEs have a crucial role to play in the national economy as major sources of employment and drivers of inclusive economic growth. However, they are not supported, and their growth is hampered by a lack of capital and limited access to skills development. A major contributor to the growth and development of SMMEs is an understanding of operations and supply chain management best practices. SAPICS’s SMME programme is geared towards boosting SMMEs by building their skills in the important area of supply chain management,” she explains.
This year saw SAPICS share its experience and insights to support supply chain professionals and reassure a panicked public during the riots and looting that rocked parts of South Africa. “During this year, we were also proud to share the inspiring and educational stories of supply chain community members involved in the fight against COVID-19. These included Bridget Barnard, Pfizer’s Supply Chain Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, who has facilitated the logistics and supply of the COVID-19 vaccine into Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Looking ahead, Schoemaker says that the professionalisation of supply chain management is well on the way and SAPICS looks forward to the first designations being awarded soon. “We have six professionals who will now hold the professional designation of Supply Chain Management Advanced Practitioner,” she reveals.
“With the end of another difficult year in sight, I would like to recognise the SAPICS board, which is made up of a wonderful mix of professionals who are excited to drive SAPICS’s future successes while ensuring that we stay abreast of the changing times so that our members are always well supported. SAPICS and our supply chain community have shown incredible resilience and creativity in managing the uncertainties in 2021, and I would like to thank them all. The 44th annual SAPICS Conference will take place from 12 to 15 June 2022 at Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, under the theme “Purpose Driven Supply Chains”.
There will be some online elements; but we are hoping that the supply chain community will be able to gather in person again to learn, network and share knowledge,” Schoemaker concludes.