The Manufacturer chats with Janet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at Warwick University, about WMG’s upcoming Global Supply Chain Debate 2015 event and why raising the profile of supply chain is so important.
“Supply chains are everywhere,” Janet Godsell explains. “They touch every part of our lives and we don’t see them until they go wrong.”
A perfect example is the recent Volkswagon scandal, which ironically Godsell herself has been affected by.
After a cumbersome trip home from the TMMX Awards judging day in October, the Warwick University professor came back to a letter informing her that her Audi was set for recall.
Her relatives asked her why an Audi was implicated in a Volkswagon dilemma, and the question could not have been more perfectly apt for someone so knowledgeable and passionate about supply chain.
Godsell’s supply experience is vast. The academic first studied as a mechanical engineer but very quickly moved into manufacturing, working for Zeneca (before the merge with Swedish Astra) and Dyson, and she explains that her experience with both companies but particularly with Dyson ignited her fervent interest in supply chain.
“When I moved to Dyson, it was transitioning from an SME into a larger organisation. Because of its size, it forced me to look beyond manufacturing, to the other operational functions: planning, procurement, logistics and how they create connectivity with customers and suppliers.
“Dyson is a supply chain success across customers, its supply base and its internal operations.”
During her tenure at Dyson, Godsell studied at Cranfield and completed a funded project examining how to make end-to-end supply chain customers more responsive.
She explains; “Up until 2008, we could get funding to help organisations with their supply chain strategy, which is an integral part of business strategy because essentially you develop supply chain to support the customer value proposition.”
Godsell emphasises the importance of this by using a major retailer as an example; “The demise of supermarkets like these is a strategic misalignment issue.
“All of the promotions sound wonderful, but instead of creating value, they trigger instability in the supply chain at the front end.”
This instability cascades down in a bullwhip effect so areas of the supply chain have to buffer against uncertainty with excess manufacturing capacity, inventory, raw material inventory and cost.
And through Global Supply Chain Debate 2015, Godsell hopes to raise its profile and support business, policy makers and academics to apply a more holistic approach in supporting a proactive involvement in the global network.
The Global Supply Chain Debate is an annual event hosted by WMG. It brings together senior professionals from a range of backgrounds to discuss and debate perspectives on the supply chain, and the role that the UK can play as part of a network of global supply chains.
Several big names from manufacturing and engineering will unite at the event, including Sir Michael Arthur, president at Boeing; Dame Julie Moore, University Hospitals Birmingham; and MP Chuka Umunna, to incite change in how we view the supply chain.
Aside from the big, crowd-pulling names, Godsell has been running another project to make the topic more accessible to the masses.
“Through MyChainReaction.co.uk we are encouraging everyday people to share how they contribute to supply chains in different capacities.
“It was launched in June 2015 and we now have 160 stories. As well as this, we have commissioned some artists to try to make supply chain more accessible.
“Also, Unfold artists will make a physical representation using data from two companies, exhibited in a 2 sqm frame.”
Godsell hopes the event will continue each year and build on changes already beginning to take place, the professor explains; “Ideally I’d like to see the inclusion of a supply chain orientation into our industrial policy, as well as increasing the presence of people in operations with supply chain expertise at board level.”