If supply chain pros can secure a seat at the table, it becomes easier to to share insights, challenge processes, support the business and be part of strategy creation – ultimately delivering value.
Laura Faulkner, CPO and Director Supply Chain Management for Nationwide Building Society, is truly passionate about developing the profession in order to raise its value and reputation within the business.
“As a fellow of CIPS I really am very keen to take on an active role in working across all industries; sharing best-practice and learning from the best of who’s out there.”
Laura is a firm believer that Supply Chain functions act as an extension of the organisation as a whole and in her role at Nationwide Building Society she has led by example, “leading a team that supports the delivery of our business strategy but doing so in a really collaborative way with stakeholders and suppliers. Our suppliers and partners are simply an extension of our own firm . We have the ultimate responsibility and the actions of our suppliers reflect on us.”
Recent events have truly tested this mentality. The collapse of Carillion, one of Nationwide’s biggest suppliers, in January 2018 hit particularly hard.
“When [Carillion] collapsed on 15th January we really did have only two areas of focus. One was to secure the services which was everything from security, reception, data centers and maintenance.
“But we also had to do the right thing by all of the Carillion staff that had served Nationwide for a number of years. Within six days of the collapse we in-sourced all 300 members of staff and directly contracted with the 160 sub contractors.
“To me sharing this kind of story shows how we can add value not only to our own organisation but also in sharing it across other industries. We’ve all got things we can learn from each other and it’s very key that we play a pivotal role within our organisation. We are that link to the supply chain, we do not outsource the risk that the supply chain brings and we have to take full responsibility.”
Getting (and keeping!) supply chain’s seat at the table
We were really interested to hear Laura’s thoughts on how supply chain professionals can secure a seat at the table.
“Well it’s easier said than done ,” she admits, “and at all the firms I’ve worked with it’s been something we’ve pushed for. We really do need a seat at every relevant table whether that be the investment boards or the strategy committees – you need to be part of the discussion not someone brought in and brought up to speed outside of the meeting.
“It’s easier when you’re sitting round the table to give your insights, to challenge, to support and really be part of either the decision making or the strategy creation.”
But, as Laura points out, it’s always easier to get that first invite to a meeting. It’s keeping the seat at the table that’s really challenging. “If you want to be kept at the table,” she suggests “you need to be able to add something and bring some unique, different types of thinking. [Supply chain management teams] are one of the strongest links to the outside world. Use it and you can bring insights and innovation.”
“We’ve just announced at nationwide that we’ll be investing a further £1.3 billion of investment into our new strategy and we are fully engaged in making that happen.
“I’ve been working with the CTO – we’ve been holding meetings and strategy sessions with all of our key partners and investigating new possible supply chain partners and it’s that engagement and listening to what our suppliers have to say that will really help us develop the strategy further and ultimately deliver it.”
Laura Faulkner is speaking on Day Three of Career Boot Camp 2018. Sign up here (it’s free) to listen to his podcast now.