The C-suite contains a prolific and varied number of positions. Each of these comes with its own areas of focus, duties, responsibilities, and of course, its own acronym.
Some top-level positions, like CEO and CFO, are iconic. Others are newer, though still common across most industries, like the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
One position that has come into the spotlight more recently is the role of a Chief Supply Chain Officer or CSCO. Here are a few thoughts on why this previously obscure position has risen to C-suite prominence in recent years.
The world spent the years running up to the COVID-19 pandemic operating on increasingly fragile supply chains. Leanness and efficiency were the name of the game—until the global crisis upended the entire system.
It should come as no surprise that the initial lockdowns and quarantines of the pandemic had a huge negative effect on supply chains. From shipping backlogs to aerospace disruptions to China’s zero-Covid policy, the world wrestled with a variety of disruptions to supply chains throughout the initial months and years of the emergency.
As the dust settled, it became apparent that the trouble was just starting. In the three years since the pandemic began, one challenge after another has hit the supply chain sector with startling irregularity and unpredictability.
The Great Resignation, sparked by the pandemic, throttled supply chain momentum across nearly every industry. In early 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, further exacerbating the flow of things like grain, automotive parts, energy products, and computer chips.
Most recently, California’s Senate Bill 1 came into effect. The long-brewing law outlawed 70,000 big rig trucks from operating on the state’s roads due to emission regulations. Looking forward, the possibility of a recession still looms, threatening to stir the pot even further.
Suffice it to say the sources of supply chain disruption have been varied, unpredictable, and nearly continuous since the pandemic began over a thousand days ago.
The net takeaway of all of this supply chain chaos is that companies in every sector are moving toward more robust supply chain management.
One recent EY survey of senior-level supply chain executives at billion dollar companies bears this out. The consulting and strategy firm reported that post-pandemic goals for many of these executives include strategies to make supply chains more resilient, sustainable, and collaborative. The data adds that things like visibility, efficiency, and reskilling will become priorities moving forward, as will the acceleration of supply chain digitization and autonomy.
While necessary as precautions against an uncertain future, all of this change will require a lot of time, effort, and resources to carry out. It will also require plenty of oversight and a firm hand at the tiller, not just on a broader scale but on a company-by-company basis, too.
Queue the rise of the chief supply chain offer or CSCO.
As the supply chain has continued to negatively impact businesses’ collective operations, many companies are opting to hire a full-time CSCO to bring some stability and oversight to the inflow and outflow of resources from their enterprises.
The world is waking up to both the importance and fragility of the supply chain as it pertains to their day-to-day operations. The rise in importance of the CSCO is a reflection of that new reality.
The importance of the supply chain and the need for a top-level leader to guide supply chain flow are positive evolutions of the 21st-century C-suite. However, this has left many leaders scrambling to define the position and, more importantly, find the right talent to fill it.
“The importance of the supply chain and the need for a top-level leader to guide supply chain flow are positive evolutions of the 21st-century C-suite.”
Many are turning to executive recruitment firms to help define, locate, and hire the right talent for their vacant CSCO positions. At Stanton Chase, our team of recruitment experts has already placed many CSCOs across multiple industries. If you’re struggling to find the right talent for your CSCO, our tools and talent network can be the difference between a mediocre and a great hire.
Leaders continue to place a growing value on steady supply chain management—and with good reason, too. The past few years have taught us that the supply of materials and goods to and from a business is anything but certain. The new shift in supply chain importance is a trend that isn’t likely to change any time soon as both the U.S. and global markets brace for more change and disruption in the days ahead.
Peter Deragon is a Managing Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. He is also the Global Practice Leader of our Supply Chain, Logistics, and Transportation Practice Group. Additionally, Peter is active in the CFO Practice Group and financial services, where he started his career.
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