What challenges await our Supply Chain Managers?

What challenges await our Supply Chain Managers?

The HR dimension of the supply chain function is growing. Now recognized, integrated into the company’s board and carrying numerous responsibilities, the supply chain manager faces many challenges and must now prepare for those to come. Modus operandi for these managers of the future.


What challenges do companies and their supply chain managers have to face? And above all, how can we respond to them? These are major questions that the École des Ponts ParisTech Supply Chain Chair launched in February 2019 raises. This four-year chair, supported by different groups like Casino, Renault, Michelin and Louis Vuitton, aims to advance training, innovation and research in the field of supply chain management. During the 2019 international supply chain meetings organized by ASLOG, Aurélie Delemarle, academic director of the chair, Stéphanie Rott, director of supply chain and group manufacturing at LVMH, James Rebours, director of innovation and supply performance at Cdiscount and Aimé-Fréderic Rosenzweig, leading supply chain expert for Renault, spoke about the supply chain of the future and those who make it.

A pool of ideas and best practices

In recent years, the number of opportunities and topics in supply chain has increased exponentially. No one can say anymore that they know everything about it,” says Aimé-Fréderic Rosenzweig, supply chain expert leader for Renault. In view of this observation and this increasing complexity, the creation of a forum made up of four manufacturers, each leader in one aspect of the supply chain, should make it possible to acquire new angles of reflection, new points of view, to mature more quickly. “We have almost all the same issues, often the same ideas. This pooling of resources therefore enables us to deploy our actions more vigorously,” he continues.

Because the challenges are manifold and significant, the major groups, manufacturers and distributors are joining forces around the subject. For groups such as LVMH and Renault, talent, digital transformation, omnicanity, innovation and sustainable supply chain are among the most important issues. “We are all in contact with the same start-ups, have similar ideas in mind… This chair allows us to build bridges between the different subjects, to bring an academic and scientific eye that qualifies the tools and objects. This is a great strength. For us, as a company, getting involved in this type of approach is also a CSR act that contributes to the training of future generations of supply chain managers and will enable us to anticipate the need for tomorrow’s challenges“, assures Aimé-Fréderic Rosenzweig.

Relying on feedback and concrete initiatives

Cdiscount is a good example. As member of the chair via the Casino group and a major French player in e-commerce with nearly 20 million parcels shipped from its warehouses every year. Today, Cdiscount stands out as an IT platform that connects tens of thousands of partners with millions of customers and users. In order to remain efficient, the company has implemented an open innovation approach and created an ecosystem in which it shares and exchanges with start-ups, partners and employees around tomorrow’s solutions. “In addition to the creation of the POC Factory with start-ups, we give our employees a voice through training sessions and innovation competitions in which they can express themselves and generate ideas beyond their comfort zone and skills,” explains James Rebours, director of innovation and supply performance at Cdiscount.


In sight? Societal and environmental objectives and, of course, the optimization of the customer experience. “Within the Chair, we come to share R&D, knowledge and best practices. We are in a world where there is not just one solution that suits all needs, but a multitude of solutions for a multitude of needs. Relying on the best industrialists and leaders in their sectors is essential. We bring a lot to each other. This sharing on common issues allows us to move forward faster, further and to build tomorrow’s supply chain“, insists James Rebours.

The supply chain manager, future CEO?

In the end, they all have common objectives in mind, major challenges that are essential for the smooth running of the company as a whole: “Our supply chain organizations exist within our companies to address this complexity and enable us to develop in a sustainable manner,” says Stéphanie Rott, Director of Supply Chain and Group Manufacturing at LVMH. “As a result, we need to support the managers of tomorrow. They must be able to cultivate their supply expertise and in particular their business management skills. But they must also be able to develop cross-functional leadership in order to be, more than actors of the transformation, butinitiators of the latter“, she continues. Beyond their own organisation, within the COMEX and with CEOs, the skills of supply chain managers are growing in importance. This is why the Chair of Civil Engineering has set itself the task of preparing them to assume this central function in the organisation of companies. Built on a reference framework comprising four main skills: understanding the competitiveness of companies & the transformations of today’s world; using R&D tools to meet these needs; innovating throughout the chain and leading projects and working with people, the Chair also seeks to enhance certain essential characteristics of the supply chain manager: “namely: realism, flexibility, adaptability and resourcefulness. Admittedly, this is a familiar word, but it is nonetheless an essential skill. We want to make our students employees capable of adapting to their environment everywhere,” says Aurélie Delamare, Director of the Chair. She believes that, tomorrow, “supply chain, operations and logistics managers will be able to become CEOs”.