From Source to Sold: supply chain stories for seasoned pros and budding leaders

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Last week, the feeds of the logistics and supply chain community on LinkedIn were dominated by images of Radu Palamariu and Knut Alicke's new book ‘From Source to Sold'. Indeed, I admittedly got in on act too, having gladly been one of many to receive a copy in time for the October 4th launch. What is the fuss about though? Who is the book for, and what can be gained from it? In this brief review I'll answer those questions and more.

From Source to Sold: supply chain stories for seasoned pros and budding leaders

For those unfamiliar with the new book, in its own words, it seeks out to “amplify the voices of leaders running supply chains of businesses that touch millions of lives every day.”

The work was inspired by the question of why we are not seeing more supply chain leaders become CEOs. It contains intriguing, thought provoking and insightful stories from a diverse cast of 26 supply chain experts and leaders.

Those 26 persons are as follows:

  • Yossi Sheffi, Director at MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics
  • Ivanka Janssen, Chief Supply Chain Officer/EVP at Philips
  • Ernest Nicolas, Chief Supply Chain Officer at HP Inc.
  • Sandra Macquillan, EVP and CSCO at Mondelēz International
  • Jim Rowan, CEO and President at Volvo Cars
  • Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer at PSA International (PSA)
  • Thomas Netzer, Global COO at Wayfair
  • Lynn Torrel, Chief Procurement and Supply Chain Officer at Flex
  • Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President (Worldwide Food & Beverage Group)at Dole Sunshine Company
  • Sami Naffakh, Chief Supply Officer at Reckitt
  • Tommy Rahbek Nielsen, Executive Vice President & COO at Vestas
  • Essa Al-Saleh, CEO and Board Member at Volta Trucks
  • Deepak Garg, CEO & Founder at RIVIGO
  • Ken Allen Board Member at DP DHL
  • Virkam Agarwal, Chief Operations Officer at Danone
  • Beatrix Praeceptor, Chief Procurement Officer at Mondi Group
  • Michael Corbo, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Colgate-Palmolive
  • Andreas Krinninger, President Industrial Trucks & Services EMEA at KION Group
  • Jay Le, Former Foxconn Vice Chair
  • Bonnie Fetch, VP and Head of Supply Chain and Manufacturing at Cummins Inc.
  • Achim Dünnwald, Board Member, Advisor and VC Investor
  • Dirk Holback, CSCO Beauty/Laundry & Home Care, CSVP, MD at Henkel
  • Donna Warton, CVP Supply Chain and Sustainability at Microsoft
  • Sascha Mengers, CEO at TTS Tooltechnic Systems Holding AG
  • Chouaib Rokbi, Executive Vice President – Digital Transformation and IT at STMicroelectronics
  • Claudio Strobl, Senior Vice President Operations at Cargotec

Before unravelling those stories, however, the book begins in earnest with a podcast-esque chat between authors Radu Palamariu and Knut Alicke.

It is this discussion that very much sets the tone for the rest of the book. While the subject matter is highly professional, there is a welcoming informality and groundedness to the dialogue that continues during the individual supply chain stories and conversations.

This arguably isn’t surprising, as co-author Radu Palamariu has interviewed a number of the contributors before. Indeed, the close rapport is telling throughout.

It’s long been said that a lot of supply chain professionals end up in the sector almost by accident. This is something that’s very much apparent once you get stuck into the stories told in the book. The likes of Bonnie Fletch, Dirk Holbach, Ivanka Janssen, Sascha Menges and Andreas Krinninger, to name just a few, all ended up in the supply chain field having worked in other market sectors.

Each contributor thus had their own unique experiences, knowledge and skills that they brought into their new roles. This makes for some diverse perspectives and observations, such as Dirk Holbach’s belief that interdependency is something those outside the supply chain struggle to grasp and appreciate.

For someone like myself who only started reporting on logistics and supply chain a couple of years ago, it’s stories and takeaways such as these that prove to be especially enlightening. Meanwhile, for those supply chain managers who have been there and done it, the same stories and learning points will likely prove to be most relatable.

In a nutshell, this is what makes Radu Palamariu and Knut Alicke’s work both a good read and a great asset.

Besides the specifics of supply chain strategies, the book offers a myriad of business insights that would be of interest to any graduate keen to accelerate the development of their professional career.

Tan Chong Meng, for example, advises readers not to prioritise chasing promotions. Meanwhile, Sascha Menges believes the best leader would make himself or herself unnecessary and fully replaceable. These tips and pieces of advice can be invaluable to ambitious professionals – irrespective of the sector they work in.

On a personal note, before becoming a full-time logistics and supply chain journalist, I spent a great deal of time conducting business English training for a variety of different companies. The many business discussions that occurred during this time, including what managers had learned from their mistakes and achievements, proved to be something of an unintended fountain of knowledge.

When reading From Source to Sold, the conversations between the authors and the 26 contributors prompted those memories to come back. Although there may be more concrete academic texts from which to draw one’s supply chain methodology and approach from, there is something genuinely invaluable about the personal experiences told in From Source to Sold.

To absorb the same amount of know-how and leadership experiences contained in From Source to Sold would likely a take a gargantuan amount of time and networking.

The key value proposition of From Source to Sold is thus the ability to digest these industry takeaways via a book that is both a leisurely and enjoyable read.

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